This past Saturday I had the privilege of working with five amazing college students. They are all Shelton Scholars from the Shelton Leadership Center at NC State University. As one of the senior scholars, my daughter Alex got to choose a service project for her community and chose
The fine line between being passionate or obsessive about something has always intrigued me. In a past blog I even defined the words in my own terms. Here are the abbreviated versions:
My travels last week included flights on Delta airlines during their struggle with cancelled flights due to a major weather system affecting the east coast. As I sat at the airport all afternoon Thursday I could see that my return trip on Delta wasn’t looking good. I gave some quick thoughts to other options, but chose to wait it out and hope for the best.
Merriam Webster defines control as "To exercise directing or restraining influence over." And while I'd like to think I am not a "control freak," I must confess there are times I am THAT type of person. I expend an enormous amount of energy trying to bend and shape every situation to align with my desired result. As you know, that is exhausting, frustrating, and rarely leads to the best outcomes!
The Vernal Equinox occurring in the US and Canada on Sunday March 20 marks the official start of spring. As one who loves to see things grow, this time of year holds tremendous promise as I start my garden, nurture existing plants, and tackle the ever-present weeds that have been growing for some time.
I've written in the past how successful leaders need to be gardeners. With that in mind, what might you do differently in your work if you looked at March 20 as marking a period of renewal and growth for you and your team? Some actions might include:
This past weekend I watched the science fiction movie Arrival. While it’s one of those movies I need to watch a second time to really appreciate all the plot twists, there is a powerful "teachable" moment in the movie when the main character, Louise, is asked by the military commander about her methods to try and communicate with the aliens who have landed on earth.
One of the activities I use in leadership training is an exercise where individuals have to build a structure using simple materials to support a rolling ball. While the activity is in process, I love watching individuals exhibit many of those early signs of leadership, and I think they are the same ones you need to stop and celebrate when you recognize them in yourself or others on your team.
One of the strategies in my new book, Always Growing, focuses on how to handle the weeds as a leader. Those attitudes, activities, and circumstances that drain the physical and mental resources of you and your team as you work so hard to achieve better results.
Three weeds I see that are always ready to "pop up" and inhibit the growth of your team include:
Prior to Sunday I had been hopeful that the Super Bowl would be a competitive event that would be engaging to watch. And WOW! it did not disappoint. New England’s come from behind victory left me speechless. And while people will be talking about all angles of their victory for months (and years), I quickly saw three key leadership principles applicable to anyone responsible for leading a team. They were:
I recently heard an insightful presentation about the dangers of being alone at work. The research about workplace loneliness suggests that it’s much more than an individual struggle. According to one study, feeling alone at work can lead to weaker productivity, motivation, and performance. Not what you want from any team member.
When will you say it? Will it be when you find yourself furiously shopping for gifts two days before you plan to give them? Maybe the words will come when you haven't gotten anything done at work for the past week. Perhaps your defining moment will come as you recognize that in all the giving to others during the holiday you have taken zero time for yourself. You know the words I mean... "Next year things are going to be different!"
Listen to almost anyone who is stressed out by all they have going on, and you will soon hear something like, "I just need to find better work life balance." While it's been a common phrase for years, we are now recognizing that it is both an unattainable and undesirable condition. A couple of reasons include:
If I were to ask you about your best technique to wisely manage your time, you would probably share a routine you follow at work or home. You might start listing tactics like "Do the hardest task early in the day," or "Only check emails three times a day." I'd be willing to wager you wouldn't say, "I manage my emotions well."
The philosophy of good enough is the idea that there are some tasks and activities that don’t have to be perfectly done. The benefit is that you don’t spend as much time on the less important, making more time available for those tasks and activities that can best move your work and life forward.
While I know you might find exceptions to my list, here are three places I think we need to settle for good enough more often.
When it comes to change a popular phrase in many organizations is the need to "drive change." It sounds like such a plausible idea, until you stop and think about the mindset it can possibly create within the people in the organization. If you are in management, the chance to drive change sounds appealing and almost powerful. If you are NOT in such a position, you may feel like a cattle drive is about to begin as you are driven to a place you may or may not want to go.
If you visit Amazon.com and type “leadership books” in the search box, you will get over 226,000 results. If you read a book a week, it would take you approximately 4346 years to read all of them. And more coffee than I can imagine. Yet you know the benefit of that “aha moment” when you find just the idea, thought, or strategy that gives you greater clarity and confidence as a leader.
Over 700 years ago, Francesco Petrarch wrote in Life of Solitude,
It is without question the nature of the mind that when it is earnestly applied to one interest it must neglect many others.
While staying focused might have been difficult then, it's harder then ever today. With technology, open office environments, and task lists a mile long, is it any wonder we can't seem to focus for more than a few minutes?
It's been less than a month since you returned to work from your holiday break. You're filled with a renewed sense of purpose and determination about accomplishing all the right things this year. How's that working for you? If you're like most people (including me), reality has begun to set in, old habits are dragging you down, and you're already feeling overwhelmed.