Monday, June 29, 2015

The Tools of Your Art

Focusing on what we do is very difficult at this time of year (as you can see by the later than usual post!!)

Time seems to tick by quickly & with so many away or starting vacation in this week of North American holidays (July 1st in Canada, July 4th in the US), many people are simply not around.

Focusing becomes difficult.  If everyone else is out playing, then I should be too, right?

Not true.  This is the perfect time to focus on what you do.  Think of the quieter time as a gift - a moment to reflect on what you do, why you do it and the tools you use to create your art.

What tools do you have?  What forms your palette, brushes and creative material?
Reviewing and reflecting on this can help you refocus for the rest of the Summer and prepare you for the back half of 2015 (I know....uggghhh, I did write that!)

So start here:

  • what tools do you use to track your work, your performance or your clients? (idea:  Freshbooks & time tracking, Trello & Evernote!)
  • are there better ways to tweak your outputs?  or do you really need to? (idea:  post it goals for the day & week planned out over the summer)
  • what tools do you use for learning?  how much time do you spend in learning mode? (idea:  download audiobooks for your daily walk or run)
  • what tools do you use for creating?  what is obsolete & what is your go-to tool?  is it effective, still? (idea:  seek out cool tools on Indiegogo or The Grommet)
  • where do you use your tools?  and consider how?
    • example:  I read many books and post it note them to when the weather is beautiful I get my butt off the couch or kitchen stool and head to a deck chair in the breeze...same work, new me new & fresh perspectives too.
Take a moment and tell me about your tools, share some tools you like to use & what value they hold.  Everyone creates differently, so sharing this information can help others move in new directions too.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Is Your Heart In It?

With June being the 6th month of the year, it is the perfect time to reflect on where you have been, where you are going and anything new that has cropped up that was unexpected?

If you are a solo business owner, this exercise can help you be sure you are on track to accomplish your goals for this year (and beyond).

If you have a team that you work with, its a great time to check in and see what is happening with their projects & their goals from a broader perspective.

After all this reflection and checking in, you may need to do some course correction.
Course correction looks like this:

  • reset of timelines or deadlines
  • juggling people resources to meet the needs of the project
  • determining which items need to 'fall off' the list to make room for new things
  • looking at your priorities and aligning (or re-aligning) them
Why do you need to do this?
You need to understand if your heart is still in it.  I know that our minds (and our bank accounts) drive a great deal of what we do.  But what is the point of doing it if our hearts don't align?  

It's gut-check time.
Do you want to end 2015 with your goals accomplished, a huge smile on your face because you know you have made a difference with the work you love to do?


Do you want to end 2015 with your goals checked off as done?

I know which one I will be working for - with my heart & my head! (funny when this happens, the bank account becomes less of a motivator)

Monday, June 15, 2015

What Do You Do With a Bowl of Frogs?

Here is this guy.  A single, happening' frog.  Easy to deal with - it's only one, right?  Pretty easy to control, get messages to & understood, interaction works - together you are engaged.

Now what do you do with an entire bowl of these guys?  They are hopping all over, you can't contain them all, you reach for one and another pops out.  And the peace sign quickly seems like it is turning into a different (and single-digit) sign!

I recently heard the 'bowl of frogs' theory from Seth Godin at Leadercast 2015 - he attributed the bowl of frogs to Ellen Langer.  He was speaking about brave comes from not hanging on to everything, controlling things, but from allowing growth, magic & change to come from letting some of those frogs escape.  Ellen fills us in on "the rhythm of the familiar lulling us into a mindlessness"...instead of a mindfulness

Frogs are all those mindless things that take away from our ability to be creative, brave and magical!

Let's look at (what could be classified) as your frogs:

  • all the things you do because you have always done them
  • all the people you hang onto in your organization because you think that eventually they will contribute in a meaningful way
  • the safe way to get your job done
  • the easy-road decisions
What are you going to do with this bowl of frogs?  It's mid-year....time to take a moment and evaluate the frogs that are staying in the bowl and letting out the frogs that need to leave - this will give you the space/flexibility/opportunity to let some frogs bubble to the surface; give you some space for magic & growth; drive challenges to where or to whom they belong & most importantly, get you focused on mindfully creating your art...instead of mindlessly working through your day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

It's That Time of Year

Both of my sons are graduating this year.  One onto post secondary education & one to grad school!  I cannot believe how fast the time has flown by.  And to tell you the truth, I have been emotional about all this change....and thanks to a Facebook post last week I realized why.

It's not that the boys are leaving (they well might do that), it's that they have been successful in completing this step in their lives and are ready to move onto that next big step.  Scary for them (though they will not admit that!) and scary for me too!  

  • Did we do everything we could to prepare them for what comes next?  (as much as we could without a crystal ball) 
  • Are we ready to let them go? (not really & yes! at the same time)
  • Where do we fit now? (still as their support, confidantes, sounding-boards, shoulders to cry on....etc)
It took me a few days & a few long walks to figure this out.  And then I started to think about how this same scenario plays itself over and over again in life - in my client's businesses and in our communities.

These are called Necessary Endings or as Dr. Henry Cloud talks about "pruning to grow".  I tend to think about this as the endings/beginnings loop.

Some endings/beginnings in our lives and our businesses are necessary so that we can all grow; all be better; all have the chance to step up.  It does not mean that what we have done to this point is means we have done what we could to make others successful and by moving into new stages or roles gives the opportunity to shed some of the trappings of the past, and look to develop new skills, features and take on new challenges.

In the case of the boys - they are not really at an ending, but at a new beginning - contemplating courses of action, next steps for the next few years and more.  We can choose to see this time of life in either lens.

In the case of organizations - succession planning and growing talent, that sometimes stays within, or sometimes leaves can be seen through the same two lenses - an ending or a new beginning.

Our role as leaders is to help everyone involved cope with the changes that will come from these endings/beginnings....including those that are doing the actual moving.  Here are 3 clear ways to help the team deal with this:
  1. be as transparent as possible - in the world of privacy & confidentiality policies, this may seem difficult so by being clear about the steps that will take place and how people will be affected, you can still provide a level of transparency that helps everyone stay engaged
  2. be available - people will have questions that don't come to them right away - allowing time for contemplation, reflection and listening will help everyone deal with the new situation
  3. be ready to observe - sometimes what we plan on doesn't work out the way we want it to.  Be ready to observe what is happening in the business/organization that is causing concerns or that can be an indicator of success & then, share it  - transparently.

Reflect on your endings/beginnings from the past 6 months....where will you head in the next 6 months?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Today I Was Mistaken for a Millenial

So I get a funny phone call today....
Asking me to quarterback a social media event for a very large Canadian organization.
Being one of the busiest weeks of my life, I cannot squeeze this in to my time.
Instead I connect the person to other real millenials to actually do the work.

Just was an interesting phone call - they specifically asked me to connect them to 'other millenials' that could help create the social buzz.  I still giggle thinking about it.  I am not the most active on social media - I like it & enjoy engaging....and while my consistency has been lacking of late (corrected now!), my name was given as a referral to this individual.  I guess the fact that I am active and understand how all this works (and am learning more everyday!), that was enough to put me into the millenial bucket.

I am a Gen X-er through & through.  I apply my geek-i-ness to technology because I love things that solve problems for others; love to figure out how things work; I love to be creative, innovate and find new ways to apply learning....if all of that makes me a millenial then I gladly embrace the new moniker.

Here is the lesson - you can always teach others and learn from others; you can allow, NO, encourage people to be who they are without adding a nickname to it. (My husband is a Gen X-er too, at the very early end of the spectrum, but if I were to really call him by a generational nickname it would be Baby Boomer! - see what I mean?).  BONUS - connecting people together is why we are here - to share who knows what with others, for no other reason than to be helpful.

We need to honour people for who they are and what they bring to us - for as long as they are a part of our team/group/family.  And smile at the differences and similarities - they bring us together and help us move forward.