Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How To Be Successful

One definition of success is "having succeeded or being marked by a favorable outcome."

Seems like a very simple statement for a such a complex subject. I think of success differently, "the understanding that your purpose is to be successful continuously, not just momentarily."

The meaning of success is changing. It's no longer one thing that defines being successful. It's a continuous trend of doing things successfully. Think about some of the athletes. In the spotlight, in the press, in every other conversation that people have. In a moment being unsuccessful in character, they lose everything. Are they still successful? Guess, it depends on who you talk to.

Success isn't a get rich quick scheme or a moment of doing something good that gets attention. It's a way of life and it's a part of a person's character. Some of the most successful people are good at being steady at balancing the most complicated parts of being a human being. Not all can do this. Few will do this.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

How to Make Six Figures a Year

People often ask me what it takes to make six figures a year. My answer: When hard work meets opportunity. Notice that I said didn't say luck or falling into things.

True story: I remember the day my world changed. The bus fare changed from $0.40 to $0.75 and I had no idea how I was going to get to work. I didn't have a car and I made $2.13 an hour plus tips. To top it all off, I was a high school drop out that earned a G.E.D. because I knew it was better to have that than be a high school drop out. I mean, my thought process was why even graduate high school? I thought it was a joke. Full of people who fit a mold or category and conformed. Why did I want to do that? They didn't understand me. I was forced to understand them. Why be a part of a system I didn't believe in?

So, there I was trying to make bus fare; deciding my life and what I was going to do. I moved out early in life and after a couple of years had nothing to show for it. I had no medical, no car, no house, nothing. Just my paycheck to paycheck living. How frustrating is that after two years?

Something had to change. I couldn't keep living like this. I couldn't just work and not believe in what I was doing. I decided to go to college. I had to take a placement test where I found out I needed take remedial courses and didn't meet basic education requirements; meaning, I had to take remedial courses that wouldn't count as credit towards a degree. I had a high school freshman education and entered into college as such. It was so tough. I felt so behind. I mean, the pressure was on. I was receiving financial aid and completed almost 38 credit units in one year. To do this, I completed 12 credit units in a single summer. Very tough to complete that much curriculum in that short of a period.

Many of my friends came back the second semester with a tan and well rested and here I was, a sophmore and already exhausted. To add to it, I became part of a student worker program and had to work 20 hours a week to start.

My father was suddenly stationed from San Antonio to California and I made a tough decision to stay behind to finish school. That didn't last long before I realized that life was starting to get harder for me and I needed my family. Nearly four months to the day, I moved to California and started to work on educating myself. I started to work full time in the clerical field (at the time I was making more than minimum wage and thought I had finally made it).

It felt good to start making a steady income. Something I could count on. Something I could hold on to. I worked up the ladder in the financial field, then budgeting, then program management, then contracting. All in all, I spent nearly 10 years of working full time to get an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree and then finally a master's degree in business administration. Some weeks I had to work 60 hours and also had school assignments due. Talk about tough.

Each time I achieved a different degree, I applied for a job that required more responsibility. Soon that paid off when I went to apply to be an adjunct instructor teaching business. Varying view point than what I experienced several years prior. I didn't want to graduate high school, but now I wanted to teach? How ironic is that?

Truth is, I believe in teaching with all of my heart. That is because people had chosen that profession and I chose to learn, which ultimately has led to my success.

I noticed that there was a Director position available at an educational institution and thought to myself, I may qualify, but will they give me a chance?

To my surprise they did and I accepted. I never could have placed myself here, but it fits. I get to collaborate with the smartest minds and value the educational process more than I could have imagined. We are all life long learners and the moment we humble ourselves and realize it, the more we might be able to reach our full potential.

So how to you make six figures year? You work hard, never give up and never settle. Most importantly realize that you determine your potential and your potential isn't what people tell you your capable of. Your potential is up to you.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Balancing Responsibilities

When I grow up, I want to be a ballerina, gymnist, dancer, singer....
The response: You have to pick one thing and be good at it. There is no way you can be all of those things.

Fast forward to 30 years later, I'm a wife, daughter, sister, friend, leader, athlete, manager, planner, collegue, teacher, singer, chef, author...

It is in us at a young age to want to do more than one thing. Why not plan big? Why not be all of the things that you are capable of? Why not push the envelope everyday?

I remember being frustrated trying to be all of these things. My time seemed to go from task to task and then I'd fall asleep and do it all over again the next day. Looking back, it was because I didn't balance all of the responsibilities that make me who I am. When would I have time to fit in writing or singing or the things I really enjoyed in life? When did I get so busy?

I had to start making some changes. I had to start thinking differently about things. Especially, about how I manage my time. I also had to realize a few things that I hadn't faced before, like maybe not being the best at everything, but good at several things. Here are some lessons learned that I would like to share:

Lesson #1: YOU control what you spend your time on. Pretty powerful words. Some may say, what do you mean? I have so many responsibilities, how do I get to choose? I have to pay bills, I have to change diapers, I have to... Yes, there are some things YOU have to do and somethings you don't need to do. My first order of business. Writing out the things I need to do versus things I need to have done. I realized that I was spending at least four hours a day every weekend cleaning my house. Is this something that I really need to be doing? What about having someone else do it? How can I afford to have someone else do it? I pay about $50 every two weeks to have my house cleaned. The in between weeks, I do a light cleaning, maybe about a half hour. I started to look at my services. Do I really need Direct TV's ultimate package with all of the channels? Do I really need a cell phone and a home phone? It's amazing where you might be able to squeeze out $50. I figure, if I can spend $50 on a tank of gas, I can figure out how to spend $50 getting four hours of my life back per week. For those who think they are the only ones who can clean their house good enough, it's not going to be perfect. Let it go. We are talking about 4 hours a week to help balance other responsibilities that you may have.

Lesson #2: Realize it's okay to be good at lots of things and you don't have to be the best at everything. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: "Sometimes your best is not enough. Sometimes you must do what is necessary." This is one of the hardest lessons I had to learn. I am programmed to be the best all of the time. Truth is, it's not going to happen. If I spend less time trying to be excellent and more time trying to be good, I have more time to spend doing other things. Sometimes good is good enough.

Lesson #3: Do things that are fun. Life is full of demanding responsibilities and it doesn't get easier with the more you take on. When I am working loads of hours and am not taking the time for my other responsibilities, like singing, writing and cooking, I feel unhappy. The pleasures that you have in life are your responsibility. We tend to get programmed to just be productive. We are not robots. There are other sides that require attention also. As a mentor once said to me, "Do something everyday that expresses yourself." It could be singing in the shower when I'm getting ready for work. It could be writing just a little bit everyday, but I always make time for the things that let me express myself.

Lesson #4: Attitude is everything. I firmly believe this. There are situations that are challenging, but they can be turned into something positive. I work in a profession where I get to hear a lot of negativity. I mean, I control funds for a living. I'm the person that has to say no sometimes and I get to hear the brunt of that. People don't like to hear the word no. Even though it is challenging, it can be positive. How you perceive things is critical. You can let the negativity get to you or you can be the driving force to change negative behavior by setting an example. It's not easy and it's not going to be. I am accountable to myself for how I let things affect me.

Lesson #5: Reflect, reflect, and then reflect again. Reflection is important in order to really understand what is going on in life. I sometimes plan situations out in my head and think about how I might have done things differently or a better way to do things. Sometimes when I reflect, ideas pop in my head. In order to become self aware, you need to reflect on your actions, your responses, your attitude and your perceptions. Even a simple 30 minute meditation exercise may help with this. It is a time to be still, but sometimes I use that time to reflect.

As my responsibilities continue to grow, I will have to adjust how to balance them. I have to believe that I am capable to do all things that are in my heart. That they are there for a reason and that is because I am meant to do them.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What Does Leadership Mean?

Recently, a team building consultant asked a group of people, "Who here likes to be managed?" Nobody raised their hand. "When asked, who likes to be led?" This seemed a little more acceptable. Truth is, people need to be inspired. People need to be motivated. People need to be trusted and people need to be led. This is not to devalue a manager or supervisor role, but to reach deep into what motivates people, what inspires people and what helps them to become great at what they do. It's not the role of a leader to micromanage this process. It's the role of the leader to provide the pathway and up to the team member if they choose to go down the path. Ask any leader, "What inspires a leader?". The good ones might say by inspiring others, they then become inspired. It's a relationship. It's a common purpose. That people become the best at what they do and develop into the leaders one would hope they become.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Finding Inspiration

I looked around my office the other day and thought, this place needs some personality. Sure, my achievements are on the wall, but when I look around how do I stay inspired? Because of past achievements? Ever heard of making your work space or office a place of inspiration; a place you can have variety; a place you can reflect pieces of your personality.
Slowly, I brought in pictures. I let parts of my interests and things I can use to find inspiration and keep my motivation. It's now full of diversity. From the focus of what I do to pictures of my family to fun office toys to a wall of inspiration. It's a variety that reflects a space of inspiration. It's about creating an environment, a space, where you can create a haven that focuses on your personality, that blends with what you do, that helps you find inspiration in everything around you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Appreciating the Day

It's easy to get caught up in the responsibilities in life. To get into a routine that can numb the normal individual. But why live life this way? Why not sit and think about the things we should be greatful for. Thanks to the day I get to wake up and live. It's full of adventures, but thank goodness I get to live it.

I wrote a life plan to document first what issues I think I need to overcome in life. Secondly, I wrote down the things I am appreciative of. When ranking them, I noticed that the issues I thought I had to overcome meant nothing to the things I appreciated. That if I lost the things I appreciated, I wouldn't even think about the things I needed to overcome. Funny thing is, I would spend more time on the things I thought I needed to overcome, instead of the things I really appreciate. If you think we're going in circles, it's because we are.

Truth is we spend so much time on things we THINK are important instead of the things that really are important to us. It's time to spend time on the things that are really important to us. It's time to appreciate each day that we have to live. Everything else is secondary.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Promoting Successes

Ever notice how easy it is to focus on what went wrong instead of what went right? The negative seems to trump the positive. For some, a person says or does something wrong and it can linger. Someone does or says something right, it becomes standard or not under the microscope.

It's time to change that way of thinking. No matter how big or small, there is something that can be said about celebrating successes fully the way that we might dread failures or mistakes. Appreciating successes can lead to more successes because it's better to feel good about something than not so good. No more focusing on what is wrong with things or what went wrong in a situation. Let's appreciate what is right in this world and what makes us successful and happy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Building Blocks of Life

Sometimes the experience we may might think is our worst situation might be the turning of the propeller that enables us to fly. I regret nothing. Sure, knowing what I know now, I might have changed a few things. But, sometimes going through these tough times, builds someone up to the person they are supposed to become. Not having these experiences as a building block would have made tough experiences much more difficult, if not impossible to overcome.

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." ~Eleanor Roosevelt. I have learned I am who I am. I am on a path. This path is not free of debris. But realizing you are able to get past any situation creates a champion mentality. It's not easy. But it does build you for the other challenges that life has to offer. The building blocks of life that you choose how to accept.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Overcoming Adversity

Sometimes life is like running an obstacle course, but with a lot more hurdles. If you are flexible and steady, you have a good chance of winning the race. Anything else can create more hurdles. Success is not a matter of events or circumstances playing out perfectly. It's a matter of these things not playing out perfectly and rising to the occasion. Heard the saying, "It's easy to steer the ship, when the waters are calm." It's true. How many can steer it when the waters are rough? Right now, the economy is tough. Things are changing rapidly. What we will end up as will not be what we started with. Leaders are born or developed during these changing times. Watching and observing or directly affecting strategies that will pave the way to how we operate in the near future. It's a stressful time. But's it's also a unique time. A time to demonstrate your ability. A time to show others what you are made of. A time of leadership. So, are you ready to run the race?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Teaching Leadership

It's not about the disagreement but the facts surrounding the argument that determines if someone is viewing things objectively or has made up their mind before hearing a particular point of view.

I have observed the good leaders are able to sometimes change their thinking based upon a valid argument and of course, there are others who think that they already know the answer, so why have the discussion? It is hard to fill a cup which is already full. Yes, I got this from Avatar. And yes, I'm well aware that it was said before the movie.

So how do you change that thinking? The thinking in which someone knows the answer before the question is asked or discussed? Well, I don't have the answer because I'm still learning. Maybe trial and error is the key. To let one try it out and figure it out for themselves. It's the hardest way to learn, but at least you learn.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Value of Good Mentors

There are those who are fortunate and those who are less fortunate. Throughout my career, I have been able to excel, been able to see things from different perspectives and been able to accomplish much. I do not take the credit for this. It is because I have worked with some of the greatest minds I know. In every career move I've made, I have had the fortune of recognizing and listening to those who knew the path, followed the path and now are teaching the path.

I had what felt like an out of body experience earlier today. I viewed something differently than I would have several years ago. I was being asked for advice where I might have taken the same approach that was proposed. It seemed liked the right approach at the time, but when factoring other aspects, wouldn't have accomplished what was intended. I don't know when this transition of thinking happened to me.

I do know, left to my own devices, I wouldn't have been able to distinguish this or it might have taken many more years. The point I'm trying to make is that I am very appreciative of my mentors. Of those who take the time, of those who teach and of those I get to learn from. "Good leaders create other good leaders and not followers." Words I read years ago and know that experiencing good leadership does change how a person thinks.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Carving the Path

Often times I observe others afraid to take risks. Afraid to go against the grain. Afraid to take a chance. My advice: Do it. Take the chance. Take the risk. I have a story that I feel defines my personality.
My husband and I were car shopping several years ago. I found a red brand new mustang that I absolutely wanted. The problem: It was standard. I had never learned to drive standard. Needless to say, I bought the car anyway. I didn't even know how to drive it home. My husband had to. So why did I use this to define my personality? Because even though I didn't know how to drive the car, I knew, I'd learn how to. What better motivation, but to take it home. I had no other alternative. If I didn't learn how to drive the car, I couldn't go to work. The pressure was enormous. Sink or swim.
I take this same approach in my career. I'm a young, successful person and am often asked "Aren't you afraid?" Of course, it's scary. I'm not superhuman. But I don't let fear interrupt my progress. I let it challenge me. Being out of your comfort zone is not easy. Just the opposite: It's quite difficult. But the lessons you learn are carried with you while you carve your own path.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Practicing Forgiveness

Practicing forgiveness is an on-going evolution of a person who is able to tolerate transgressions because there is progress that can be made. I find myself in this lesson often. Either I am in the position of practicing it or engaging with someone who must practice it with me.

I have noticed that the more I am able to get past certain situations and forgive others, the more content I am as a result. It is not the situation that defines you, but the response you have in those situations.

Allowing your experience to trump your immediate response can be difficult, but is necessary. I won't pretend to not have those same feelings or emotional responses to situations that would make your blood boil, but it is you who chooses how to react to them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Valuing Diversity

Strength lies in differences, not in similarities. ~ Stephen Covey

Often times I have come across people that cannot comprehend why people might view or do or even see things differently. If they do not fit into the box that they can comprehend; they must be doing something wrong or indifferent or have something left to learn. How often are people really appreciative of diversity? We speak it, we train about it, we are well aware it exists, but how many people really understand and value it?

Being confident in your beliefs, in your values and your morale compass means that you value the fact that other people might have different view points or beliefs. That you accept others because they are unique and have something to offer. That even though there are differences, there are a common set of goals.

Valuing people on all levels means you understand that people are unique and have something valuable to offer. The key may be finding what that is or guiding people to discover it for themselves or discovering that you might be learning from someone else.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Work/Life Balance

For years my life revolved around work and school. My routine started with breakfast, work, lunch, dinner, (meals are important) a drive to school, a drive home and bed time. Weekends were breakfast, homework, more homework, an hour or two of free time...did I mention homework? Fast forward to eight years of doing this and the routine changed, but not much. Breakfast, work, lunch, dinner, work. Weekends were breakfast, work, more work, an hour or two of free time...did I mention...you get the picture.
Yes, that is what happened. Homework prepared me for more work. After a few years of doing this, I've decided to change things a bit. Now it's breakfast, work, lunch, dinner, well whatever happens next. Weekends... breakfast followed by well, whatever happens next. No more spending free time doing work. Free time is meant to be....well you get the picture.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The New Business Manager: Change Leadership

There are various leadership styles that I have learned over the years. While some choose one approach, the most effective is the situational leadership style. This means constantly evaluating decisions for the situations that are before you. How you approach one situation may be different than how you approach another due to several factors and your experience in these circumstances. In order to quickly be able to adapt to change, it is important to keep this style because it creates a flexible leader. At times, a manager who chooses a “fixed” style of leadership tends to either get frustrated or is unable to quickly adapt to the change.

Jack Welsh said it best, “Change before you have to.” I am beginning to understand this concept. Either you can change and adapt to the situation or choose not to and painfully have to get there or never do and that has its own tensions.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Leadership in Tough Times

Anyone can lead when the waters are calm. True leaders are defined when they can lead through a storm. Are people willing to step up and be leaders when it's not convenient for them, when there is no prize or recognition for their efforts? Are people willing to step up if they also must feel the pain? Good leaders do what is responsible because that is what is required. Hopefully, others follow suit and, if not, then their leadership ability is defined in the storm. Those who are team players may not get the convenience, the prize or the recognition in the short-term, but in the long-term, they demonstrated what it really takes to be a leader and sometimes that means sacrifice. Those who cannot sacrifice are short-term thinkers wanting immediate satisfaction as opposed to what truely defines a person's character in the long-term. Good leaders demonstrate selflessness and not selfishness. It is much easier to serve yourself instead of others, but good leaders prefer challenges.  Which are you?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Comedy in the Workplace?

Dealing in high stress environments, I've learned how important it is to keep a sense of humor.  Some situations are serious and warrant critical thinking, but we all need a break from that sometimes.  Lightening the mood can help people think more clearly and more relaxed. The result is that people feel more comfortable to provide input to be a part of the solution. I've been in some meetings where I thought a person's face might crack if I saw a smile.  I look at it this way, you can be serious all the time at work or you can take the time to enjoy what you're doing and still be serious about it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Learning To Pace Yourself

I've spent years working at this momentum like a snowball turning into an avalanche.  I feel a poem coming on.  Grow, Grow, Grow while you can has been my motto.  It still is, but now I'm learning how important it is to balance yourself.  What I mean is growing in different directions; for some it's personal, for others it's professional, for others it could be their mid-section.  Gotta add humor.  I've spent many years growing in one direction.  I think at times when someone is focused, that this can happen.  I am understanding how important it is to broaden your focus, so when it comes down to it, you are able to be flexible.  Who knows what life is going to throw at you and so many people put all of their eggs in one basket.  When the basket drops, what's left but a bunch of broken eggs and a mess to clean up.  The key is to never end up with egg on your face or on the floor for that matter.

Monday, March 15, 2010

To See Them for What They Really Are

In my journey of raising pitbulls, I’ve noticed a couple of things. These creatures are pretty black and white. They can either be really good or really bad. It’s such a line and there are no gray areas. I see both sides when I deal with a pitbull, however, I chose to focus on one side: the good. I can tell you in raising four different pitbulls, I’ve never been let down. I see the good in these animals. Now granted, there are some that are beyond recovery. I am telling you my experience with four different pitbulls all who have been saved or rescued. Most wondering in the wilderness. Many people tell me to be aware. That any day one will snap. After eight years and four dogs, I am fortunate to say that I have not seen this behavior. But I believe it’s because I do not see this in the dogs that I raise. I see fierce strength that is unmatched beyond any dog breed. But I also see a vulnerable, caring creature that just wants to be accepted for who they are. They are black and white. They can either be good or bad, which is what intrigues me about them. They require a strong individual to guide them to their true self. If you think I’m over analyzing these dogs, you couldn’t be further from the truth. To think that I have never encountered a bad pitdog I’ve taken in, is a testament to the capability of the breed. They can be what you see them as. I take risks every day I kiss the dog that has been estranged. I treat them the way that I want them to be, not the way they could be. I just show them love. It has taught me a lot about myself and a lot about the capability of love. They are magnificent creatures that deserve a chance.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Responsibility to Others

I've been thinking a lot lately about how important it is reach out to others. I can remember having a rocky start in my earlier years and all of the people that kept trying to help me along the way. Even though they didn’t get to see the immediate results, they planted the seed. They never gave up on me. Here it is 12-15 years later and I am considered successful. I have an M.B.A, 12 years of business experience, am a director and I’m only 31. I look much younger than I really am by about 7 years. I work in a community college so I often get mistaken for a student, which is kind of fun.

Someone asked me the other day, "Where did you graduate High School?"  I said the truth: "I didn't.  I have a G.E.D."  She looked at me and said, "Are you serious?"  No one today believes that when they first meet me.  People I work with see me as focused, direct and I’ve often been told that I’m “intimidating.” I think it’s because I know exactly what I want and it if I don’t, it doesn’t take me long to get there.

I still feel like that person who had a rocky start. It’s like it was yesterday to me. Now, I know why. It’s my turn. I’m starting to feel like my purpose is to help others, not to pay back the people that helped me, but because it is the right thing to do. Before I get too deep here for some, please understand that this is a breakthrough for me. I always help others, but feel that my capacity is greater and what I can do to help others could be greater. It would be good to show those who took the time to help, that it does pay off, that there is a reward and that people can become great if you just take the time to plant the seed.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Value of Continuous Learning

Jack Welsh said it best "Change before you have to." Once you stop learning, you stand still while everything around you is changing.

Continuous learning is a part of everyone's life.  Whether it's a hobby, education, relationships; there is value in applying yourself to learning.  One way to do this is to set a goal on something you would like to get better at or understand differently.  My perspective on learning has changed over the years.  It used to be very simple: I want to learn something, I study it and I learn it.  Then I move on to the next thing I want to learn.  How about changing the way you do things, even how you view things?  This is not so black and white at times and definately not easy.  Opening up your perspective is a way of learning about yourself and about others.  It is an actualization process.  I sometimes open up discussions with someone who may view things differently than me.  After the discussion, I either have a sense of whether I stand even more firm as a result or whether or not I can be flexible on this issue because I may not have considered the opposing side's valid arguements.  By engaging with others, I learn more. 

I have heard many people say, "It's who you know."  But then that's too narrow.  The only people that survive with this thinking are those who make "friends."  I used to think "It's what you know."  But then that's also narrow.  You put yourself in a vacuum and limit your ability to learn from others.  Now I think: It's who you know, what you know and who knows you.  You can apply your knowledge, make connections and still be an individual.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Relational Manager

Talent wins games. Teamwork wins championships. ~ Michael Jordan

Relationship management is a critical skill in all executives. Talent will get you promoted, but without understanding relationships you will only go so far. It is unavoidable. You can be the best at whatever you are doing, but if you don’t gain the support of others, you are limited in your success. I’m still learning this so I’m not going to pretend that I have the answers. I’m naturally a straight shooter and not a politician type. But then that’s seeing it in only two ways. I’m either one or the other, but can I be both? I see value in the ability to have both task management, while being a relational manager. My mentor has seemed to master this.

Steven Covey states it best in the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. There are different focuses: dependent, independent and interdependent. Going from independent to interdependent is what separates a task manager from a relational manager. I don’t care what it is you are doing, you are going to need to work with others eventually. Operating by yourself is operating in a vacuum and you are not gaining the benefit of the experience of others.

Also, there is a process to management. It seems that the longer you do it, the better you get at relationship management, so I look to people that have more experience than me on the matter. They’ve been through the process so why not gain more by asking questions about the process. If I get stuck, I ask “How would you handle this?” It creates a relationship between you and the senior manager. Experienced people like to share their experiences and new people like to share their “new” way of thinking. Both gain the benefit. Both are interdependent.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

You Are a Millionaire

A human life is priceless, but ever heard of the $6 million man? Guess what? To determine the value of a human life, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reviews what people are willing to pay to avoid certain risks and how much employers pay employees to take certain risks. This number is anywhere between $6 and $8 million. The point of bringing this number to your attention, is that at times people can feel less valuable than they really are. When looking at yourself in the mirror in the morning know that you are priceless and also consider yourself a multi-million asset to those who are coming up with these estimates.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Art of Letting Go

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” Anon

Letting things go is a process. It’s about learning where to spend and focus your energy. Years ago, I’d let things affect me that have little or no meaning to me today. As I think back to those times, I remember tension, frustration, animosity and negative feelings. In present day, when I think about how miniscule some of those issues were, I sit back and think about the progress that I’ve made.

Letting go doesn’t mean being complacent or not taking action when necessary. It means that you learn that having negative feelings isn’t productive, constructive or progressive. It means that you determine what is necessary and what isn’t. Learning to not focus on the “what isn’t” part is a form of letting go.

As my schedule started to get more complex and the issues I was involved with got more in depth and greater, I started to gain an understanding of how critical this skill is. Not having this skill means that it will be difficult to progress to a higher level.

I consider it a form of art because there is a self-actualization that occurs when you start doing this. You learn about your strengths, you learn about your weaknesses, you learn about where you are and where you want to be.

Stepping back from situations and ranking them on the scale of importance helps to determine whether or not it really requires your attention and focus. If it doesn’t, let it go. It’s about choosing the right battles to win the war.

Tipping the Scales

“Know what's weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change, but pretty soon...everything's different.” Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes

I’ve often wondered how transformational change comes to fruition. What is it that tipped the scale? Rarely is it something that just happens overnight. It is the outcome of small progressive changes that lead to something significant and profound.

One definition for change is to make the form, nature or future course different from what it would be if left alone.

Change occurs through persistence and hard work. Take the pyramids in Giza. It is estimated that there are 2,300,000 stones in this pyramid and that it took around 20 years to build. I can’t imagine laying the first stone and thinking only 2,299,999 left to go. This structure is one of the seven wonders of the world and still baffles some of the smartest minds on how precise it is in terms of astronomy, math, science, positioning, engineering and construction.

When I think back to starting my first college course, I didn’t focus on the other 20 classes I’d need to take in order to get an associate’s degree. I didn’t think about the other 40 courses I’d need to get a Bachelor’s degree and I surely didn’t think about the other 52 classes I’d need to get to get a Master’s degree. I set the course to obtain a degree and focused on one class at a time. It took about 8 years and thousands of dedicated hours to complete. It has completely transformed me in terms of marketability, options, salary and overall quality of life.

These are the slow everyday changes that one day equate to success and transformation. When applied to an existing business, change can sometimes seems slow or the outcome not as we had hoped.

Persistence: the continuance of an effect after the cause of it has stopped. The pyramids aren’t being built anymore, but are still one of the most astonishing structures known to man. I’m not going to school anymore, but I’m still gaining the benefits of the work that’s been accomplished.

Think about how you can apply persistence with small changes to tip the scales that lead to transformational change.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Effectively Multitasking

Multitasking can be challenging and tricky. It requires you to have a pulse on several moving parts and takes practice to develop this skill. Here are some tips I’ve found useful.
  • Be organized. Create folders, a filing system, binders or simply a notebook containing meeting highlights. Make sure this system is easy for you to retrieve information quickly when needed.
  • Put everything in its place. Spend some time each day to file, organize email, and check messages. These things tend to snowball quickly. Deferring this can create a bigger job and dedicated amount of time to do later.
  • Delegate or seek help. Learning to delegate is a necessary skill. If there is no one to delegate to, there is no problem asking a colleague or friend to help you. If they do, you will be able to divide and conquer.
  • Outsource tasks that may not be necessary for YOU to do. This could be in the form of hiring a consultant, having someone else clean your house or mow your lawn.
  • Follow up. One thing that I’ve learned is that it’s okay to delegate, but you are still responsible. Following up and knowing what the status is will be critical for you to “get your arms around everything”.


Reducing Stress by Setting Boundaries

Taking on the world can be a bit of a challenge. I do believe in stretching your limits every day, but sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. This is an area even I can do better in because I tend to take on more and more. Even though it’s part of personal growth, it’s important that boundaries are set and adhered to in order to keep your balance. Otherwise it’s like a teeder-todder…too much weight on one side will cause other areas to go unbalanced. Here are some tips to help reduce stress.

  • Know and set your limits. It’s hard to stretch your limits if you don’t know what they are. Being a young manager, sometimes I think I can do it all. I’ve had to learn where I need help, and where I should be helping.
  • Delegate or Push Back. Maybe this isn’t your responsibility. There are times where someone comes to me with a problem and I want to solve it. Leadership is about getting other people to think about the problem and offer solutions. If you are doing all of it, other people won’t learn.
  • Let some things go or defer them. To me this is one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn. I’m a natural multi-tasker that likes to get things done quickly and move on to the next thing. It’s a critical part of my job. In a time when resources are limited, not everything will get done on the timeline that you would like. All you can do is your best.
  • Determine what you need to focus on. Looking broadly at the big picture is necessary, but execution is key. Try to focus on realistic and measurable goals.
  • Pick your battles. There are so many issues that we think need attention, but separate issues that require attention versus issues in general.