Keys to well-being

 Master farmer (and brother-in- law) David with a small part of his herd of naturally grown beef cattle.
Photo Courtesy of ohnemusbeef.com 

 

Leading Like a Farmer

I have an abiding relationship with the land. I grew up in farm country. Both my parents came from active farming families.

We lived in a small rural town where life revolved around the seasons, the soil, the crops, and the herds.

My dad started out in farming, but successive years of  prairie drought forced our family to move to the concrete jungle.

There, dad finished degree work and pursued a career as an educator.

A recent visit to my sister and brother-in-law’s cattle farm brought back a flood of childhood memories.

The old adage is true.

You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.- Somebody

Having that rich rural upbringing in my background helped shape my pragmatic, optimistic worldview.

(a little bit country, a little bit rock n roll)

Farming is a firm belief in the future. A belief that things will happen according to plan. That growth and change will come in due time.

As I followed my sometimes perplexing early adult career path, the profound common sense lessons from my rural upbringing stood me in good stead.

It helped bring things into sharper focus.

It wouldn’t hurt to think more like a farmer to be a better leader.

Yup, farmer. Just think about it for a bit.

They are faithful stewards of the land, working hard to produce everything that feeds us daily.

Here are five ways to approach your Leadership as a farmer would:

  1. Prepare the field (Master the context)

Farmers would never try to grow crops or herds in a barren place.

They do whatever is necessary to prepare nutrient-rich soil for growth.

Similarly, you can’t grow your career—or the careers of those you lead—if you’re in an uninspiring, stagnant or hostile work environment.

As leaders, we need to consciously create a safe place for others to flourish. We’ll foster trust and collaboration by modelling vulnerability, leading with empathy, actively listening, and encouraging open communication. To nourish our own careers, we need to adopt a growth mindset, allowing our curiosity to fuel lifelong learning.

  1. Begin with the end in mind. (Have a vision, strategy and plan)

A farmer would only plant a crop or start a herd with a plan that includes a clear understanding of their desired outcomes.

In growing your career, having clarity on what you want is critical to achieving it. Maintaining focus will help you do the things necessary to expand your experience and skill set.

When you can articulate your goals, you’ll have an easier time aligning your attention and intention to plant the seeds for continued growth.

The same approach works for helping your team grow, too. When you ask what each member wants to achieve, you’ll better understand their goals and create a plan to accomplish them.

  1. Having started – Let things grow

Micromanaging doesn’t work with plants, herds, or people. If you hover or over-control, you’ll impede progress.

Work teams respond in much the same way. Once you’ve helped plant the seeds and ideas for growth, certainly monitor, but avoid getting into the minutiae of every task. Empower your people to make their own decisions—even if they differ from those you might make.

 As a leader who steps back yet offers support and resources, you send a message of trust—and allows others to thrive.

Just as a farmer must be patient and allow their crops to mature before they can be harvested, a leader must be patient and allow their team members to develop and grow before expecting them to produce results. Remember that leadership growth happens steadily over time.

  1. Removing weeds.

Farmers know they must keep their fields free from weeds that threaten to invade and choke out their valuable crops or harm the animals.

When managing a team, one toxic employee can quickly destroy the morale of the most productive team. If you’re a solopreneur, unreliable partners or even over-demanding, taxing clients can take their toll if left unchecked.

Sometimes, the “weeds” you face aren’t people but outdated processes, services, or activities that drain your precious resources and prevent you from focusing on what truly matters.

When you say no to the people and things that don’t support your goals, you make room for those that do. It’s up to you to proactively assess the fields of your career and take action, pulling the pesky weeds early and quickly.

  1. Work real hard and learn from previous harvests.

Farmers know that forecasts can sometimes be wrong and that some form of setback will strike sooner or later. But when it does, they don’t give up. They use this knowledge to be better prepared.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work!” Thomas Edison

Every leader makes mistakes, but the ones who view their failures as learning opportunities thrive. The next time something doesn’t go as planned, set aside time to review where you went astray, what you learned, and what you can do differently in the future.

By thinking like a farmer, you’ll sow the seeds of Leadership and reap a bountiful career harvest.

Until next time- Lorne

Credit Acknowledgement: Adapted from a Forbes Article with a similar theme by Amy Blaschka 

 

 

Shift Happens!

If you been in leadership for any length of time, something egregious takes place and you are impacted. You get that “run over by a bus feeling”. Trust is lost.

Trust breaches come in all shapes and sizes. You never quite know when and how it’s going to show up. Regardless of the cause or circumstance, it hurts. Eroded trust, causes rifts in relationships, and stymies effective teamwork.

You can’t control when you get thrown under the bus, but you can choose how to understand and respond.

Trust Shattered, Trust Rebuilt: A Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Betrayal in Professional Relationships

Trust is the silent force that creates a harmonious and productive working environment. A fragile yet crucial element binds teams together, driving efficient collaborations and forging strong professional relationships. When that trust shatters, the echoes of the fall can impact every facet of work dynamics, leading to an atmosphere filled with suspicion and doubt. As a leader, comprehending the roots of such breaches and the road to restoration can help heal wounds and revive the organizational spirit.

Delving into the Roots: Why and How Broken Trust Occurs

Trust is violated when actions defy expectations, leading to a betrayal that can occur for several reasons in the professional world.

Inconsistency is often a prime suspect. Leaders who do not “walk the talk,” fail to honour commitments, or do not consistently enforce policies breed an environment of distrust. Colleagues who fail to fulfill their responsibilities can also tarnish the reliability factor, causing the trust to falter.

The stark violation of ethics, such as dishonesty or hiding crucial information, also significantly fractures trust. Such actions are deemed as betrayals because they don’t just strain the professional relationship but attack the personal integrity of the parties involved.

Power misuse or authoritarian behaviour can further poison the trust well. When people in positions of authority misuse their power, subordinates may feel exploited, leading to resentment and a breakdown of trust.

Any Powerful Emotion Can Be the Cause Behind Betrayed Trust

Emotions can cloud judgment and fuel irrational behavior. Sometimes a perceived situation isn’t based on reality. That doesn’t matter. As long as a person believes they can benefit in some way, and their benefits are greater than the damage they’re going to cause in their mind, they can rationalize taking action.

Common biases like over-optimism, conviction bias, or superiority bias often kick in and fuel the process

Forgive, Remember, and Overcome: The Pathway to Trust Restoration

Overcoming the consequences  of broken trust necessitates a healing process involving acceptance, understanding, and mutual efforts.

Recognition is the first crucial step. The offending party must admit their misstep and its implications. This openness can clear the fog of misunderstandings and exhibit a sincere commitment to mend the strained relationship.

Subsequently, the act of forgiveness takes centre stage. The injured party must be able to forgive the offender without necessarily erasing the episode from memory. Remembering is not about holding grudges, but rather, it serves as a reminder of the lessons learned.

Creating a Safe Path: Guardrails and Tips for the Trust Restoration Process

A few healthy guardrails must be set in place to navigate the terrain of trust restoration successfully.

Constructive Communication: Open, honest, and empathetic dialogue about the incident, its consequences, and how to move forward is crucial. This channel can resolve misinterpretations and set the right expectations for future interactions.

Consistent Actions: Actions speak louder than words. The party that broke the trust should consistently exhibit reliable and trustworthy behaviour to reaffirm their commitment to change.

Shared Objectives and Responsibility: Identifying common goals can help to realign focus, uniting both parties towards a larger purpose. Setting defined roles, responsibilities, and accountability mechanisms can bolster trust along with shared goals.

Transparent Practices: A transparent work environment minimizes misunderstandings and potential trust violations. Regular status updates, a culture of feedback, and open-door policies can promote transparency.

Defined Professional Boundaries: Clear professional boundaries can prevent future conflicts and trust breaches. These include setting and respecting expectations about job roles, work etiquette, personal space, and workload.

Here are six personal tips on how to respond to broken trust

1. Remember that your response shapes your reputation – Above all else, remember this point: how you choose to respond to the situation will significantly shape your reputation. Take the high road and respond with integrity, empathy, and professionalism. Don’t let someone else’s unprofessional behaviour goad you into responding in kind. Trusted leaders know that at the end of the day, all they have is their integrity.

2. Don’t react defensively – Defensiveness only escalates the situation and lends weight to unjustified criticism. Getting heated up over friendly fire gives emotional control to the other party and limits your ability to respond rationally and thoughtfully.

3. Listen to understand, not to refute or defend. Our most common instinct when we experience broken trust is to zero in on the fallacies of the other person’s comments and formulate a response to protect ourselves. Instead, resist the urge to focus on the micro elements of what’s being said.

4. Consider the source – Probably the sagest of all advice regarding betrayal. You can rest easier if the betrayer is prone to dramatization, criticizing others, being egotistical, or other unpredictable behavioural patterns. However, suppose the perpetrator is known as a steady, stable, trustworthy professional who has personally supported you in the past. In that case, you should take stock of their feedback and explore it further.

5. Understand the circumstances– It’s helpful to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand their motivation for unfair behaviours. Is the person unhappy? Stressed? Insecure? Vying for power or control? Frustrated? Is there a significant amount of change happening in the organization? Criticism increases dramatically. Criticizing and blaming others is a defence mechanism to deal with the fear of being asked to change. Even though you’re the target, remember that unfair criticism is often more about them than you.

6. Remember that you are more than this event – It’s easy to get down on ourselves when we experience the fire of criticism from colleagues. Most people strive to perform well and do what’s right, and when a boss or colleague criticizes our efforts, it hurts deeply. Depending on our personality and emotional makeup, it may lead to anger, bitterness, stress, resentment, self-doubt, and pity, to name a few. Remember that this too shall pass; in the big scheme of things, this is probably just a blip on the radar. Keep focused on all the positive things in your life, such as the people you love, those who love you, the successes you’re having at work, the joy you experience from your hobbies, your spiritual faith, and the support of your family and friends.

As the American writer Elbert Hubbard said,” the only way to avoid conflict is to do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing”.

Getting wounded by a breach of trust stinks; there are no two ways about it. But remembering these principles can help us keep things in perspective and maintain a strong defence when we’re thrown under the bus.

Until next time..

 

Photo by Johan Godinez on Unsplash

Saying “yes” to something significant in life or business can be downright daunting.

It requires a leap of faith, a willingness to face the unknown, and an inner conviction that it is the right thing to do. It can be scary, especially when we are accustomed to saying “no” to opportunities that push us outside our comfort zones. However, when we muster the courage to say “yes,” we open the door to a range of possibilities that can transform our lives in ways we never imagined.

Here are five transformative  things that happen when you’re inspired to say “yes” to something significant in life or business:

Overcoming the Predominant Human Tendency to Say No

The first and perhaps the most significant thing that happens when you say “yes” to something important is that you overcome the predominant human tendency to say “no.”

We are predisposed to seek comfort, security, and familiarity. We avoid risks and stick with what we know. Communicating “yes” requires stepping out of our comfort zones and facing the unknown. It is a powerful act of courage that can be transformative in itself.

Overcoming Misgivings and Fear of the Unknown

Saying “yes” can also help you overcome misgivings and fear of the unknown.

Of course, it is natural to have doubts and reservations when facing something new and unfamiliar.

However, saying “yes” means acknowledging and facing those doubts and fears head-on. It requires a willingness to take risks and push through the discomfort. By doing so, you can develop resilience, self-confidence, and a sense of empowerment that can carry you through other challenges in life.

Overcoming Self-Doubt

Saying “yes” can also help you overcome self-doubt. Self-doubt is a common human experience and can be a significant barrier to personal growth and success. It can cause us to question our abilities, worth, and capacity for change.

Saying “yes” to something highly important requires believing in yourself and your potential. It means recognizing your strengths and your ability to learn and grow. You can develop a greater sense of self-confidence and self-esteem by taking action despite self-doubt.

Aligning with Your Values

Saying “yes” to something significant also requires aligning with your values. Values are the guiding principles that shape our decisions and actions in life. We feel a sense of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment when we align with our values.

Saying “yes” to something that aligns with your values can give you a sense of direction and purpose that can be transformative in and of itself. It can help you stay focused and motivated even when faced with challenges and setbacks.

You Create Opportunities for Success

Saying yes to something new and important creates opportunities for success. By taking on new challenges and expanding our skills and knowledge, we increase our chances of achieving our goals. We create new networks and connections that can open doors to new opportunities and collaborations.

Opportunities for personal growth and betterment can have a ripple effect on all areas of our lives. We become more engaged and fulfilled in our personal and professional relationships. We are more likely to take on leadership roles and make a positive impact in our communities. We become more empathetic and understanding of others, and we develop a greater sense of compassion and gratitude.

Success is not always guaranteed when we say yes to something new, but by taking on new challenges, we increase our chances of success. We learn to be more resilient in the face of failure and setbacks, and we become more persistent in the pursuit of our goals.

Figuring it Out

Of course, saying “yes” is just the first step. Then comes the fun part of “figuring it out”.

Once you have committed to something significant, you will likely face various challenges and obstacles. You may have to figure out how to navigate unfamiliar terrain, learn new skills, or overcome unexpected setbacks.

My wife loves the challenges of living off the grid for several months of the year.- particularly the figuring it out part.

 She’s found that problem solving in this setting can be an enriching and gratifying experience. It requires creativity and a willingness to adapt and change course when necessary.

In Conclusion

It’s a principle I strive to live by: say “yes”, then figure it out.

Life and leadership lessons can be found in the most unexpected places, even in a lighthearted family movie like “Yes Day.”

While saying “yes” to everything in real life could lead to disastrous consequences, the film highlights the importance of flexibility, compromise, and the power of saying “yes” to new experiences.

As a leader, it’s crucial to be open to new ideas and be willing to try different approaches. However, it’s also important to set boundaries and communicate effectively to avoid chaos.

 Also, opportunities in real life don’t come gift-wrapped in safe, comfortable, packages. They usually require  that you commit first, then do whatever is necessary to ensure that your effort is successful.

Ultimately, “Yes Day” teaches us to find a balance between saying “yes” to opportunities and knowing when to say “no” to protect ourselves and those around us.

How about you? What opportunity is in front of you right now that feels a little intimidating? Is there any place where you need to say yes, then figure it out?

Until next time ….

PS – If you wind up saying “yes” too much, you may want to read The Too Busy Trap

 

 

 

 

                                           YOUR THREE WORDS – GOT ‘EM YET?

I was recently invited to speak to a group of Real Estate professionals about “What Success Looks Like For You.” The organizers asked me to share based on my decades of business and leadership experience.

This presentation was a part of their annual planning and strategy for their business. 

Having begun my year-end review, this request was an excellent opportunity to reflect on the ups and downs of my own leadership adventure.

The funny thing is that after my seventy-plus trips around the sun, I don’t have any particular strong  feelings about being successful. 

I know the alternative really sucks, so it’s more about having a “success journey” than having arrived.

Examples of “success” in any field if examined, come after a ton of hard work, sacrifices made and obstacles overcome over extended periods of time.

I wrote more about that here  if you’re interested.

Admittedly, there are some very cool things I was privileged to be a part of. Even got some recognition along the way.

However, what jazzes me the most is navigating the here and now while looking ahead with a strategic intent to whatever is next. (hence the Blogpost title- Hey, What’s Next!)

All the people I regard as successful have found the fulfillment of a calling,  – something deeply personal and meaningful that energizes them and keeps them going.

My “more vintage” perspective is that the finding/losing, forgetting/remembering, leaving/returning, winning/losing and sense of calling never stops. 

Much of life and leadership success is keeping going with what you love and capitalizing on second chances.

As long as we are still topside, till the very end, there is always another chance. 

That’s why I love each New Year. 

It allows me to see things from a fresh perspective, set the tone and make room for change.

Back To The Presentation:

After some personal introductions, it was obvious that I was with a group of bright, motivated business practitioners who were highly committed to their craft. 

They had already achieved what most would consider a fair measure of success. 

When I asked the question about their “why,” they all had a remarkably similar response.

Foremost was a genuine love for service to others with their particular skill set.

 Beyond that, a deep appreciation for their co-workers and a vibrant workplace culture that drew them in and kept them there. 

A third aspect was the personal freedom that this line of work afforded. 

Their responses aligned closely with the Japanese concept of “Ikigai” (pronounced ee-kee-guy), which roughly translates to “the thing you live for” or “purpose, meaning, or calling.”

It’s much more nuanced and robust than the North American concept of pursuing your dream or following your passion. 

It answers four basic questions 1. What do you love doing? 2. What are you really good at? 3. What does the world around you need? 4. What can the world pay you for? 

Finding Success In My Calling 

I re-assess my calling every year. It’s a part of my “three-word” exercise.

Some folks stress about “finding their calling. “

In my instance, it was my calling that found me. 

I’m a builder at heart. As a kid, I had a fascination with building things.

Whether it was building a tree fort, an airplane from an apple crate, or a box kite so big it would lift me off the ground. That one really freaked my parents out.

The point is I loved building things. 

After some vocational detours into teaching and marketing, I settled into a career in building things. Houses, stores and restaurants, apartments, you name it. I loved the whole process of providing people with a home.

Then a career-ending injury forced a change of plans.

For quite some time, I felt devastated and at times, quite despondent.

Gradually, with the help of influential friends and mentors, I discovered that the basics of being a good builder were readily transferable to building other things. 

Opportunities and second chances came knocking. I had the privilege of working with others to build entire organizations, systems, and communities. 

Fast forward to the present.

While circumstances and venues might change, the calling hasn’t changed.

As an Executive Coach and Consultant, I can co-create, scale up, and build things together with others.

Make Room for Change 

That’s what the annual Three Words are about.

My challenge every January is to come up with three words representing the year’s strategic directions. It may sound simple, but it can be challenging. Two isn’t enough, and four’s too many, so three words are about right.

There’s nothing magic or weird here. Instead, it’s a way to incorporate a small success habit by bringing consistent intent, focus, and clarity to my decisions and actions in the coming year.

That’s why I’ve thoughtfully selected three words that will serve as keys to my year. If you’re still getting familiar with this exercise, business writer and consultant Chris Brogan started this in 2006.

A lot of other folks are doing this. Just plug in #my3words and see what others are doing.

My Process

I spend time reflecting on the past year, what’s worked, and what has not. Also, what needed to be clarified and what needed to be added. But more importantly, I try to understand what I want the coming year to look like.

Sometimes, the words come out of my goals, so I’ll jot down words that capture my attention and accurately reflect my intention.

I usually discuss my goals and three words with my wife and several close friends.

That’s always helpful.

It shaped my ideas into something more tangible. It also reaffirmed that we’re in this together, and no matter what goals I have or the words I choose, they are meaningless without mutual support.

My Approach

I interact with my three words each day. For example, I’ll jot them at the top of my planner page or workout calendar. Doing this keeps them front and center, pointing me toward my goals and grounding me in the interim work needed to achieve them.

Here Goes

My words are keys to positive change in the coming year.

I’ve settled on:

1. BUILD

2. RECONNECT

3. BREAKTHROUGH

Build: It’s a noun and a verb that packs some intention into what I do. Builder fits my role as a coach and consultant. My job is to come alongside my colleagues and clients, survey the landscape, lay a sure foundation, assess risks, recommend paths of action, and start following the blueprint. It fits my calling, and that makes sense.

It’s in my DNA. Sometimes it’s people or a team that needs building. Sometimes it’s a physical structure. But, of course, that’s always fun too.

Reconnect: This is self-explanatory. The circumstances of the past several years have meant I’ve lost touch with way too many folks. I’ve always relied on the benefits of networking. It’s so much more than developing valuable contacts. Networking gives me access to something bigger—the insights and knowledge of others. These insights, in turn, can spark creative thinking, leading to new ideas, products, and solutions. Who can say no to that?

Breakthrough: There are some long-term situations that I’ve been working on where things haven’t materialized the way I hoped. This one’s the hardest for me to explain because it’s personal. Achieving a personal breakthrough can be a challenging process, but it is also very gratifying. We’re all unique, so the steps to a personal breakthrough will look different for everyone, including me. Timing is also different for everyone, so it may need patience. Meanwhile, I’ll maintain a positive mindset, surround myself with a supportive network and hang in there.

This one is the most complicated of all 3, but it’ll make for an exciting year if it happens.

Review Them Daily

The more you review your 3 words, the better. They help me decide stuff. For example, “Should I say yes to this project?” or “Well, how does this align with my intent?”

What Are your Words for 2023?

It’s your turn:

1. Please send me a note or share it wherever you like.

2. Use the hashtag #my3words to find other people’s shared experiences, and if you’re a last-minute person, don’t worry.

3. Start when you’re ready.

I look forward to seeing what this next year has in store!

 The Magic of Written Goals

Roald Amundsen was a superhero of his day. He was a scientist, adventurer, and explorer.

In 1911 he led the group that first reached the South Pole.

As a researcher, he made observations and took scientific measurements.

He was one of the “big thinkers” of his era.

He was also an inveterate “journal-er” and note-taker of daily happenings and activities, large and small.

Consistency and the 20-MILE MARCH

 In his book “Great By Choice,” business writer Jim Collins tells the Amundsen/South Pole story this way: In 1911, two explorers, Roald Amundsen and Robert F. Scott would, lead separate teams on an expedition race to the South Pole.

The final push was on foot. There and back was roughly 1400 miles, representing a round trip from New York to Chicago in some of the world’s harshest climate conditions.

While both teams had the same goal. They would travel the same distance in near-impossible conditions. However, each had entirely different strategies for their journey.

Scott’s strategy was to walk as far as possible on good weather days and then rest up on bad days to conserve energy.

Conversely, Amundsen and his team kept up a strict regimen of hiking only 20 miles a day, no matter what. Of course, on good days, his team could do more than 20 miles; however, Amundsen was adamant that they pace themselves at 20 miles to conserve energy.

Which team won?

 It was Amundsen’s, simply because they took consistent action toward a measurable goal.

Scott’s team arrived nearly a month later.

Numerous books and movies have been dedicated to his compelling story.

Here’s a grainy 10 minute YouTube Clip.

There’s a simple elegance in mundanity, especially when it moves you in the direction you want.

That same leadership principle holds true for you and me with our “here and now” goals.

As a leader, having a robust goal-setting mechanism and consistent follow-through is critical to your success and that of your organization.

Jotting things down in real time has become second nature for me. I rarely think about it. I just instinctively do it. Sometimes it’s as simple as a one-word goal for that day or that year.

See My Three Words

It’s resulted in a growing archive of notebooks and daily planners that I often refer back to. Particularly when it comes to tracking progress toward my personal goals.

Why is this important?

It boils down to three immediate benefits.

For starters, it fast-tracks my thinking toward clarity. It helps me distill facts from those annoying emotions. As a “dyed in the wool” INFJ, I seem to have an overabundance of those.

Secondly, writing things down creates a measure of accountability. I’m a progress and productivity nerd, so having goals and interim reference points to measure progress are vitally important to me.

Thirdly, it provides a platform for meaningful interaction when others become aware of my goals.

They have a chance to metabolize information, respond, and maybe even join me in an adventure.

 

Unwritten goals are like unplanted seeds. Not much happens until you plant and care for them.

 

The benefits of written goals are numerous. Here are but a few

Goals Show You Where To Go

Okay, so there are some things you want to get done in life. But to what extent? Setting a goal shows you where and how to get there. While you may be headed in the right direction, you could wander off the path without a plan and get lost. You could also end up somewhere other than where you wanted to go.

Goals Measure Your Progress

You may be already pursuing something you are passionate about in life. How far have you come? Do you know? If you don’t, you don’t have a goal guiding you.

Besides just showing you where to go, goals also help you see how far you have come, giving you a good measure of what you still have to do.

Goals Keep You Motivated

Do you struggle with staying motivated? This is why you need goals. As you see your progress toward your objective, this will help keep you motivated, even when the going gets tough.

The physical act of writing down a goal has been shown in one Harvard study to increase the likelihood of you achieving it. Simply writing it down can be a huge motivator to help you change your everyday life to make your goal a reality.

Goals Inform Your Purpose

Knowing where you should go or the career you should pursue can take time and effort. Goals help us make choices. A seemingly insignificant and simple goal might even help you make better choices.

In Conclusion 

There are umpteen reasons why written goals are essential. But overall, to achieve success, you need to start by making a written list of your aspirational goals. Then start crafting a plan about how to get started.

This will help show you where to go, keep you on track, and keep you motivated as you go.

Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to achievement.

Until next time,

 

 

 

 

Turning Your Endings into New Beginnings

This recent article in the New Yorker caught my eye.

Soon I was laughing out loud.

Let’s just say I relate. After all, who knew I’d be pursuing a new career after my 70th birthday and lovin’ it.

Changes!

I’ve seen a lot of them. Whatever era you hail from, there’s an iconic playlist anthem about starting over. Whether it’s Stevie Nicks (Landslide), David Bowie (Changes), or Beyonce (I Was There), changes and fresh starts play a decisive role in our lives.

The global pandemic is winding down, and there’s a lot of “churn” and foment happening.

Starting over. Reboot. Makeover. Shot at redemption. Fresh Start.

Call it what you will. We’re at that point again.

Not every New Beginning comes about because we want it. Sure, many do.

We can get excited about moving to a new place or starting a new job. But sometimes, the process of a Re-Do can feel more angsty than positive. We might be leaving someplace where we’d rather stay. Even if the outcome is good, proper, and necessary, there are always memories and baggage to sort through. The new beginning which follows can feel more overwhelming than exciting.

So, how do you cope with these situations? How do you do it in such a way as to take something positive away from experience?

It’s not quite as complicated as you might think. And no, it’s not just a matter of a fresh mindset, though this can help. Sometimes your endings will take a little more work to shift them into new beginnings.

Here’s my brief guide.

Start with Saying Goodbye

There comes a time when you will have to let go of the past to make friends with the future. It’s really up to you what this looks like. Some people find journaling about the process helpful. Others need to process verbally and talk things through. Depending on your circumstances, counseling or coaching may be a good idea. Whatever you decide, remember to give yourself time to process. Some baggage takes a little time to unpack. It’s never good to rush the “goodbye stage.”

 

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” –  “J.P.” Morgan

Look for the Silver Lining

OK, maybe this fresh start wasn’t at the top of your list, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t an excellent opportunity to accomplish something you’ve intended to do—Hunt out the good in the situation. Who knows, it might be you even have reason to celebrate this fresh start you didn’t see initially.

Get Your Head on Straight

Once you’ve started looking forward, it’s time to assess the situation. What are your options? What do you need to accomplish, and what would you like to do? The great thing about a fresh start is it’s a chance to fix other stuff too. For example, you might need to move right now, but this doesn’t mean you can’t work on a few other things on your wish list, such as making sure you’re moving somewhere with a home gym or workout option nearby to create a new exercise plan.

Take a Reality Check

Not everything on your wish list needs to be dealt with immediately. Some things might require funds or other resources which aren’t available just yet. Others are simply too much of a fresh start all at once. There’s a lot to be said for pacing yourself and not setting yourself up for failure. What’s reasonable here?

 

“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” —Steve Jobs

Take Stock of Lessons Learned

If you’re being thrust into a change, chances are you didn’t have the optimal outcome in whatever was just ending. The good news? You can still take away something good from experience. So, before you get too deep into the fresh start, take a moment to ask yourself what you learned from the previous situation. There are lots of knowledge nuggets in endings that will serve you well going forward.

Adopt the Choice

No one likes being told what to do. If you feel like this fresh start is being forced on you, it can easily lapse into resentful feelings of victimhood regardless of the good you’ve found or the goals you’ve set. There comes a time where you need to step back and say, “Yes, I do want a fresh start,” making this situation your choice. This puts control back in your hands. Whatever happens from here is more like you want it to be.

Adjust Your Mindset

No fresh start will go well if you harbor resentment over the change. This is especially true if you feel forced into things. It might be you have to do some things you’d rather not initially, but this doesn’t mean you can’t embrace the change and still get some good out of it. Start looking for the best outcomes. If you need an added adjustment to the situation, try making a list of all the positive things which can come from having a fresh start right now. Find an outcome that excites you and makes you feel better about this Fresh Start.

 

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

Know What to Hold Onto

You don’t need to ditch every aspect of your life because you’re engaged in a new beginning. There are things from before which were good and will be valuable moving forward. Take stock of these things, making a list if necessary to remind yourself you already have some great resources you can use in this fresh start.

Take Breaks

New beginnings can be draining, especially if there’s a lot of physical or mental work involved. Schedule some breaks when possible to prevent burnout or overwhelm in the new situation.  A little playtime can do wonders for keeping your spirits up. The nice thing? You don’t have to go all out on these breaks. Even an afternoon outside or with friends can change your mood for days. You get the most benefit from breaks when you take them regularly, so be sure to add them to your schedule nicely spaced out. That way, they come often enough to be beneficial, but not so often as to keep you from making positive strides on your fresh start.

Try Again

Sometimes the most daunting thing about a fresh start is the actual getting started. You might find yourself holding back, not wanting to take chances, and certainly not volunteering for new activities. While this might seem sensible, it’s the worst thing you can do. New beginnings are all about taking chances and trying new things. The way to get started and find a better attitude? It may take a few false starts but accept you won’t be perfect at whatever you’re trying to do, especially not on the first try. Remind yourself it doesn’t matter if you fail. This gives you another opportunity to learn.

You like that, right?

Try a Mission Statement

If you’ve come this far, you’ve set some goals for yourself and even feel like you have a reason for this fresh start. You may want to take this information and turn it into a personal mission statement that outlines your goals and what you want out of this next chapter. Why? Sometimes everyone feels discouraged, and it’s this statement which you’re going to come back to time and again to re-energize yourself. So it might help write this down and post it where you’ll see it and feel inspired throughout your day.

Appreciate Your Strengths

Look, you just came through a tough time, and you’re still going. This alone is worth more than anything else on this list. So take a moment to realize just how far you’ve come and how wonderful it is you’re moving forward.

Take it One Step at a Time

Nothing happens overnight. There will be various stages to your fresh start, involving many smaller goals and lots of small successes. Celebrate each marker as they come, and you’ll feel like you’re getting somewhere (because, of course, you are!)

 

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” —Martin Luther King Jr.

Ask for Help

Hey, no one ever said you had to take on a Fresh Start all by yourself. There’s a lot to be said about support systems. Invite trusted individuals into your process by letting them know what you’re doing and asking for their encouragement. If you have mentors, go to them for advice. Or find a mentor if you don’t have one already. Remember, the key here is you want support for your New Beginning. The last thing you need is to “get the stink eye” from people who will only be critical or put down your efforts. This is the perfect time to create boundaries and keep those out while at the same time keeping your tribe close to where they can encourage you the most.

Persist

How are you at being stubborn? If you’re still not feeling it and are struggling to get going on this Fresh Start, the best thing you can do is just keep plugging away. Go back through your list and remind yourself of everything here. Try again and keep trying. The funny thing is that this persistence will pay off in the long run, especially if you can maintain a positive attitude and be open enough to try new things. Sooner or later, the fun will creep in, and you’ll realize just what a glorious opportunity this is. In the meantime, the very fact you’re still carrying on is something to take pride in.

Don’t be afraid of new beginnings. Don’t shy away from new people, new energy, new surroundings. Embrace new chances at happiness. L.E

You’re still in the game, and you’re still trying. So take a minute to give yourself a hand for being amazing!

Until next time .

 

Resilience

Photo by Biegen Wschodni on Unsplash

I love this time of the year. The unmistakable scent of damp earth, cut grass, and fresh pollen evoke the real prospect of new growth and possibility.

Knowing that it’s getting warmer and lighter every day here in the northern hemisphere is such an appropriate metaphor for coming out of the darkness and hibernation of this past year.

It’s a great time to be alive.

An operative word for this time is resilience.

Our world has changed in ways we haven’t fully processed yet. A lot of strong conversations are taking place.

I believe that resilience is our current best response.

Resilience buys us time to adapt!

 

“More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.” Dean Becker

 

Foolproof planning these days requires a more perfect knowledge of the future.

That’s just not available to anyone right now.

Resilience is that deep commitment to a mindset and a skill set that builds and rebuilds ecosystems that work even when things don’t work out as planned. Especially when things don’t work out!

Resilience buys us time to adapt.

Flexibility in the face of change is where resilience comes from.

As leaders, some look to us and rely on us.

I’ve often wondered why building resilience isn’t a key business imperative. My observation is that quite often just being human is at odds with work life.

Work can routinely bring stress, negativity, setbacks, and outright failures — and most of us are challenged to combat the effects.

We often equate resilience with overcoming extreme hardship or impossible odds.

Adequately understood, resilience can serve as an ever-present, daily mentor, helping us rebound from the collected frictions and pressures of work life.

Most of us just motor on— unaware of the increasing toll of emotional depletion — and building resilience isn’t considered.

I’ve been fortunate to have highly resilient people to learn from in my life.

I’ve also had personal challenges and circumstances where I could apply what I learned.

Here are seven observable characteristics of my resilient friends and mentors.

Networks of Support

Having a robust support system is an integral part of resilience. It really doesn’t matter who has your back in life – parents, friends, relatives, teachers, coaches, or colleagues. Real friends (not the Facebook kind) will give you understanding, guidance, and comfort when you’re struggling with a problem. They help you define your priorities and provide honest feedback just when you may need it the most.

Asking for help or counsel from the people who support you is a valuable life skill.

From my decades of work with marginalized populations, having a solid network always was a key determinant of capacity to rebound from the impact of life trauma.

“Others” Mindset

Resilient people aren’t very self-absorbed. They give freely of themselves to those around them. It may appear counterintuitive, but being generous or devoting time to a worthy cause (like volunteering) are helpful strategies to take the focus off your problems.

Helping others can help expand your life skills and problem-solving abilities. Giving back to yourself is also helpful. Proper care of your health and periodically rewarding yourself contribute to thinking and acting “resiliently.”

Stick -to -itiveness

Doggedness, grit, hardiness, stamina – call it what you will. Resilient people learn to accept emotional pain and stress as part of life.  They don’t allow their difficulties to define them. All the resilient people I know avoid personal pity parties. Instead, they recognize their feelings, acknowledge the problems being faced facing, trust that their ability to meet their problems, and believe they have the strength to maintain their emotional balance.

Change Happens

Accepting the fact that things are going to change is a fundamental part of resilience. When your goals, plans, ideas, or hopes are ruined because of unavoidable circumstances, a flexible and positive attitude will allow you to focus on new projects or new hopes. If you accept the things you can’t change or control, you’re free to put your effort into the things you can change and control.

Choice of Attitude

Most of the time, we don’t get to choose the obstacles and difficulties that life puts in our way. We always get to choose our attitude toward adversity. During hard times, it’s helpful to find something positive to think about and imagine a positive outcome. Even if you don’t have all the answers and even if the solution to your problems isn’t apparent, you can choose to believe that things will work out. You can tell yourself that your issues are manageable. You can choose to see yourself as a fighter, not a victim.

Reframe Perspective

When a resilient person faces adversity, they’re likely to avoid making things worse by jumping to extremes. Resilient people tell themselves that their troubles won’t last forever. They don’t see every bump in the road as a catastrophe; they understand that things can’t be perfect. Having realistic expectations of themselves, others, and what can be achieved is the answer.

Humor

It’s been said that “laughter is the best medicine.” And really, if you can drum up some self-deprecating  humor and laugh with others, you will lighten your load and lighten up!

Appropriate laughter and humor are beautiful ways to connect to others. They help release the feeling of stress that adversity causes you.

Laughter is also good for your body – it changes your body’s response to stress.

Conclusion

Can we strengthen our capacity to think and act more “resiliently”?

Absolutely, yes.

Think how a trainer at the gym helps you concentrate on certain muscle groups for strength and endurance. Similarly the various components of resilience can be exercised and strengthened.

Check the work of Dr. Fred Luthans. It points to evidence that resilience can be learned.

Another helpful article from Harvard Business Review – How Resilience Works 

Have a great month!

 

 

 

What’s Your Authenticity Quotient?

 Ok I made that up, but I’m pretty sure it’s a thing.

It has to do with your personal leadership credibility.

We all know about IQ. It’s your Intelligence quotient score derived from some standardized tests.

So if we can quantify that, it’s not too big a leap to apply “quotient” to other important things 

Like FQ – Frustration Quotient. How frustrated am I ?
Or TQ – What’s the level of Truth in this situation?
Or B.S.Q -What’s the level of …well you know.

There are many other Q’s and I could go on, but will resist.

I’m Talking AboutAuthenticity Quotient”

It’s like your personal credibility rating, or integrity score but so much more.

I’m surprised at how many leaders have a specific work persona and a whole different person shows up elsewhere. And it surprises me when these same leaders seem shocked or confused when their employees don’t trust them, don’t like them, and can’t really wait to work elsewhere.

Authenticity in leadership is one of those things everybody declares to be super important.  Many groups and organizations I work with have an “authenticity lingo” baked in to their core values (I.E. authentic culture, authentic relationships etc.)

To me, when someone self-references the word in anything other than an aspirational context, they’ve broken some sort of spell. The moment you have to self -declare a trait like this, you’re probably not a representative of that trait.  It’s something you either are or you ain’t. At its essence, it’s one of those rare know-it-when-you-see-it qualities that if you have to spend a lot of time talking about it or trying to analyze it, it simply evaporates.  Like wind, you can’t see it, but you’re highly aware when you see its effects.

Before diving in, I’ll offer a soft disclaimer. Nobody’s appointed me official spokesperson on “authenticity”.  But if that job existed– how cool would that be? I can speak for myself and offer some good examples of authenticity that I’ve observed.

I firmly believe that leadership is more important than ever before, yet true leaders are in short supply. There’s also a huge crisis of confidence in leaders.

I firmly believe that leadership is more important than ever before, yet true leaders are in short supply. There’s also a huge crisis of confidence in leaders. Something weird happened with the rise of the internet. Our humanness, relationships and accountability got reduced to a bunch of 0’s and 1’s, making sketchy leadership all the more possible. With multi-media bombardment and the rise of “truthiness” (thanks Stephen Colbert), we find ourselves increasingly attracted to the wrong type of charismatic leaders. 

I know of nothing more valuable, when it comes to the all-important virtue of authenticity, than simply being who you are.” Charles R. Swindoll

Here are some hallmark characteristics of authentic leadership at work: 

  • Genuine  leaders practice confident humility. They know themselves. They know their strengths, understand their virtues and recognize their limitations. They stand by their convictions, but are quick to admit their errors. They seek help and feedback from others. When wins happen, they share the spotlight with others and applaud their contributions.
  • Genuine  leaders embrace their own life story and share it easily. They are comfortable in their own skin and learn from their experience. Somehow they are able to connect the dots backwards in order to move forward and inspire and motivate others. Genuine leaders don’t derive pleasure or satisfaction from the opinions of others. This allows them to move unaffected by fear or favour following a direction from within that’s aligned with their principles and values.
  • Failure is an ever-present option. Genuine leaders master the ability to bounce back with resilience, turn setbacks into opportunities and convert fear into wisdom. Pragmatic, optimistic leadership  when combined with sheer grit and a positive “stick to it” mindset can be contagious at times  when the chips are down
  • Authenticity strives for  the good of others and speaks truth in kind and appropriate ways. Genuine leaders build high quality relationships and networks that are  marked by trustworthiness, empathy and relentless reliability. Ben Franklin (U.S. Founding Father, author and inventor) began his morning routine with the question ”What good shall I do this day?” He ended it with “What good have I done this day?”
  • Genuine leaders lead by example and build culture and community around shared truths and values that others can buy into. They have a knack for zeroing in on our core elements: spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional. These four elements are the basis of all our capacity for self-improvement. This does not mean authentic leaders are “soft.” In fact leading in a forthright manner is critical to successful outcomes, but it’s done with empathy; directness without empathy can be cruel.
  • Genuine leaders lead with an eye on the future and deal with today’s problems without compromising the future. They realize that to nurture individuals and to nurture a company requires hard work and patience, but the approach pays large dividends over time.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brene Brown

Being authentic is a work in progress and an endless process of growth.

It always starts with a critical and honest look in the mirror. Authentic leaders believe that there is always room for improvement and never stop.

Conclusion :

Building and maintaining your AQ is hard work, but it pays off in the long term. It is like exercising: While you are training, you feel tired, but you know it is good for your body. Staying authentic in leadership and life is not easy, but it can be observed, measured and learned.

Until next time!

Here for you. 

Burnout.

Not only is it a career-killer, it’s seriously bad for your health.

Earlier this year, burnout was recognized by the World Health Organization as a significant workplace health hazard. That officially makes it “a thing“.

https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out/en/

The term “burnout” was first coined in the mid-’70’s by American psychologist Herbert J. Freudenberger, who used it to describe symptoms he had experienced: “exhaustion, disillusionment, and withdrawal resulting from an intense devotion to a cause that failed to produce what he expected. In earlier times it was generally termed “nervous breakdown” or emotional exhaustion”

Burnout today refers to a collection of different physical, emotional, and mental reactions that occur in response to prolonged stress and overworking. Surprisingly, experts can’t agree on an exact definition.

While I sort of knew about burnout, I never thought it would happen to me. Even-keeled and rarely stressed out, I thought I was Iron Man in this department and nothing could break me. Burnout carries a stigma as a sign of weakness and since I am not weak, I couldn’t reconcile how burnout could come knocking at my door.

My energetic “Type A” approach to building a career I that I loved, led to deep down fatigue – the kind that doesn’t go away with a good night’s sleep. I was getting snappish and reactionary around trivial things and feeling increasingly grim about the future.

The Car Crash You Don’t See Coming

Burnout is an insidious condition that sneaks up on you. It happens slowly, over a lengthy time frame. The consequences can be life-altering.

That’s why it’s so important to spot the hazard signs and symptoms early.

Symptoms could include:
– Chronic fatigue and a sense of dread about what lies ahead on any given day.
-Insomnia. In the early stages, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep one or two nights a week.
– Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention. Lack of focus and mild forgetfulness are early signs. Later, the problems may get to the point where you can’t get your work done and everything begins to pile up.
-Physical symptoms may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting, and/or headaches (all of which should be medically assessed).
-Getting sick easily and often
– Vague anxiety. Early on, you may experience mild symptoms of tension, worry, and edginess. As you move closer to burnout, the anxiety may become so serious that it interferes with your ability to work productively and may cause problems in your personal life.
-Depression. In the early stages, you may feel mildly sad and occasionally hopeless, and you may experience feelings of guilt and worthlessness as a result. At its worst, you may feel trapped and severely depressed and think the world would be better off without you. (If your depression is to this point, you should seek professional help immediately.)
– Unreasonable anger. At first, this may present as interpersonal tension and irritability. In the latter stages, this may turn into angry outbursts and serious arguments at home and in the workplace. (If anger gets to the point where it turns to thoughts or acts of violence toward family or coworkers, seek immediate professional assistance.

Could you be burning out?

“Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long.” Michael Gungor

Understanding Three Varieties of Burnout

I didn’t realize there are different types of burnout but thanks to the American Association of Psychological Science, here they are:

  1. Overload burnout

With overload burnout, the tendency is to work too long and too hard work in an amped-up search for success. Sleep, personal health, and overall well-being are sacrificed in hot pursuit of ambition. Business is worn like a badge of honor even though it’s stressogenic.

2. Under-challenge burnout

Less understood, the “under-challenge” can cause burnout. Feelings include feeling unappreciated, boredom, and a lack of learning opportunities. When there’s no passion or enjoyment in work. Coping mechanisms include distancing, indifference, cynicism, avoidance of responsibility, and overall disengagement.

3. Neglect burnout

This subtype of burnout stems from chronic feelings of helplessness at work. There are feelings of incompetence or falling behind on the demands of the job. This results in stasis, passivity, and low motivation.

The Causes

In a 2018 research piece, researchers at Gallup identified 5 leading causes of workplace burnout.

https://www.gallup.com/workplace/237059/employee-burnout-part-main-causes.aspx

5 Causal Factors Leaders Should Be Aware of
These five factors were most highly correlated with burnout syndrome in the study:

  1. Unfair treatment at work
  2. Unmanageable workloads
  3. Lack of role clarity
  4. Lack of communication and support from the management
  5. Unreasonable time pressures

De-Risking Burnout

Burnout is not inevitable.
You can prevent — and reverse — burnout by changing how you manage and lead yourself and those who rely on you. If you don’t address the root causes of employee burnout in your organization, you won’t have a healthy environment that empowers your people to be and do their best.

What to Do

As a leader, it’s particularly important to spot the signs and symptoms of burnout early, because it’s associated with numerous health problems. The human and corporate toll can accumulate fairly rapidly.

Also, as a leader, you can set an understanding and respectful tone on how this gets addressed. This is a human problem not a “personnel issue.” Here are some practical steps to take.

  1. Create a “psychological safe space” to talk about it.
    Encourage discussion of specific concerns. Work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Be realistic about setting goals for what must get done and what can wait.
  2. Don’t do this alone.
    Encourage those impacted to reach out to their co-workers, friends, loved ones, or even you as their manager, for the support and collaboration that will help them cope. Recommend to your team that they utilize an employee assistance program if they feel stuck and unable to approach you. These and other relevant services can help with employee burnout.
  3. Engage in relaxation activities
    Either suggest or help involve your employee or co-worker in exercise programs that can help alleviate stress. This can include group runs or cycling, or more gym-related activities such as yoga, meditation or tai chi.
  4. Get some exercise and sleep
    Carving time for physical exercise is known to help relieve stress. Regular physical activity can take your mind off work and help restore broken sleep patterns.
  5. Mindfulness.
    This may not be for everyone, but mindfulness is a great way to alleviate stress and stave off burnout. Mindfulness is the act of focusing on your breath flow and being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment, without interpretation or judgment. In a job setting, this practice involves facing situations with openness and patience, and without judgment.

Conclusion
Burnout is a real thing. It happens when you least expect it.

In my instance, I caught it early and was able to turn it around. This came with the help and support of my wife, friends and a very smart family doctor.

Others aren’t so lucky.

You may toil for years at the same pace and suddenly found yourself in the middle of burnout without even seeing it coming. It’s good to love your work. But you have to love it in moderation. If you don’t, burnout will make you hate it, and that’s harder — much harder — to bounce back from that.

Let’s have a great month of August!

Lorne

Is This You?

Your day has barely begun and already you are off track. Suddenly it’s nearly noon and the things you intended to do are totally sidelined. This wasn’t how the day was supposed to go. An urgent email came in, a client called and left you a cryptic voicemail, a panicked co-worker with a deadline is asking for your immediate assistance.

These are real life scenarios that people face every day. It can be stressful and overwhelming.

Whatever you’re doing right now there’s a good chance you’d rather be somewhere else or doing something else, even if it’s your dream job.

Maybe you work from home and are getting sidetracked by picking up around the house. There’s something that needs to get finished, but procrastination set in and you haven’t even started. You’ve got homework for a course you’re taking, a critical presentation to prepare for, or a difficult conversation with your significant other. 

This is the stuff life is made of. It’s really tempting to blow these things off. But you can’t.

Your approach to anything is your clue to how you do everything. 

My recent read through Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work:Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted Worldinspired some of my own thinking about my approach to work. I love it when someone writes about what I’ve been thing about and absolutely nails it.

His premise is that we’ve entered an era of unprecedented distractions. We’ve lost our ability to focus deeply and immerse ourselves in complex tasks.

He makes the point that this is a highly valuable lost skill and presents three concepts that help us focus more than ever before.

We’ll save those for later, o.k.?

I found it helpful to Identify, quantify, and put some healthy boundaries around these three types of work in my years as a CEO.

It creates mental accountability and peace of mind knowing I’m spending appropriate amounts of time doing the right things.

Now Onward to the Three Types of Work 

First off, it’s all work, and there’s inherent value and nobility in work that is well done.

Sometimes on the road to where we want to be, we wind up doing things not because we want to, but because circumstances dictate that we have to. Often starting out in our first jobs, we’re introduced to the shovel, the broom or other mundane chores.

“There’s nothing shameful about sweeping. It’s just another opportunity to excel- and learn.”- Andrew Carnegie 

1. The first is what I call “Sustaining Work”.  

It’s that tedious, soul-sucking, mind-numbing, eye-blear-ing, part of your job that comes with the territory. Every job description I’ve ever seen has a “not-fun” factor. In earlier times this was referred to as “toil”. The stuff that simply has to get done or there will be consequences – usually negative.

Whether you’re a parent, an entrepreneur, or a CEO, diapers need to be changed, reports need to be filed, data needs to be entered and someone else’s messes need to be cleaned up. It’s one of those self-existing facts of life that just “is”. Much like coping with weather, gravity or taxes, you don’t particularly have to like it, but having a healthy attitude with the bigger picture in mind certainly makes necessary, non-productive work more acceptable

2. Next up, there’s “Good Work”. 

This is where we should be spending the bulk of our time. Ideally, Good Work should marry your purpose with your job description. It aligns your soul with your goal. After all, this is what you signed up for, right?

“Good Work should marry your purpose with your job description, and your soul with your goal.”

It’s surprising how many people, glance at a Job Description, sign an Employment Agreement and promptly forget about it.

Lack of role clarity on the JD leads to squishy, unrealistic expectations and a lot of angst.

Fuzzy Job Descriptions are the third leading cause of employee burnout according to Gallup research. See http://bit.ly/2Y8fowY

Having a well-crafted Job Description brings focus, clarity and direction on a day-to day basis. This is where you’ll be spending the majority of your work time. This is your Good Work.

3. Thirdly, there’s “Great Work”. 

If you’re progress-oriented and visionary, like me, this is the type of work that really floats the boat. It’s where the magic happens. It’s the leading edge of moving things forward.

Great work is hard.

It requires periods of concentrated focus and extra effort with no immediate dollars attached. Just ask anyone who has ever stayed up late banging out a thesis, promoted a new idea, or helped an organization move through a crisis.

As a coach and consultant to visionaries, I spend a great amount of time assisting them in executing their aspirations. Visionaries are big thinkers, risk takers, and trailblazers who exhibit great amounts of faith. They seem to live and think in the future. These qualities make them admirable. Often they are the driving force behind societal changes. I personally draw inspiration from these leaders because of their courage and resilience.

The shadow side of visionary leaders, particularly those with a driven, pace-setting, or autocratic leadership style, is that they tend to burn out or blow up the people around them. The job gets done, but there’s a good chance that there’s a trail of bodies left in the wake.

How It Breaks Down Time-wise 

Being somewhat (ahem) analytical, I tracked these three categories in my own work life over a period of years.

In my setting, with some fluctuation, it usually balanced out to abou20% Sustaining Work, 70% Good Work and 10% Great Work.

Great visionary work is critical to any meaningful enterprise. A small dollop of big a vision, rolled out in a consistent way, goes a really long way to keeping your team and the organization motivated and inspired. As exhilarating as it may be to spend time with shiny new ideas and our head in the future, it can be very tempting to overdo it in this zone. It can be mentally exhausting

Often in the past, I’d catch myself getting away out ahead of my team or my board as I focused too much on the future. Not good.

Enter Mr. Newport and his “deep work” concepts.

“In almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits.”
–Cal Newport  

He wisely recommends allowing 5 hours a week for this type of work.

Here’s the How-To-Get Started Part

  1. Train your brain to be better at focusing (example: put your phone away after dinner)
  2. Set aside time for deep work (example: dedicate five hours a week for deep work)
  3. Adopt a tiny habit that signals to yourself that you take the ability to focus seriously (example: quitting a social media service)

Once you get some traction on getting started, it gets easier and you can keep it going.

A related article you may find interesting: http://bit.ly/2YqveU5
(Dealing With My Monkey Brain)

Got ideas or a different experience around this?
Shoot me a note. I read all my emails.
I’d love to hear from you.

Lorne