Getting through projects can drag you down. I made this post yesterday and then found I was struggling with project completion myself! I hit the dip I was talking about in the blog when I began to swear at the computer...several times struggling to get the audio timing set with the presentation.
This morning with a fresh mind, I attacked the project again and voila...here it is!
Listen here as Kathy walks you through project completion!
This morning I realized I’d better pay attention to the ten Koi from our pond I am overwintering in the basement. The fact that their home, the horse trough, had become a murky I can live with for a bit. When the water had evaporated to the point of causing the aerator to make a weird noise, however, I knew I had to add some water. Given I was adding water, I decided I may as well do a bit of a water change while I was at it. This isn’t an easy task! I have to haul the dirty water upstairs and dump it out bucket by bucket and take clean water down the stairs and treat it before adding it to the trough. It’s labour and time intensive.
Leaders are constantly faced with prioritizing people and tasks in their day-to-day work. Do I spend time with my staff (or child or fish…) or do I get done the ever-growing list of things I need to do? And how do I know when to do each?
There are no easy answers to this balancing act. Ultimately the number one rule is to trust your gut! Listen to your instincts. When an employee walks into your office distraught, upset or somehow you just notice something is off, you realize you need to do something. Can it wait? Sometimes it can. You might say, “Hey Julie, I wonder if we could schedule some time later today or tomorrow to talk about…” Other times, you just know that you need to turn away from your computer, push aside the papers and focus on them.
Leaning into this feeling is key. Our intuition speaks volumes to us and we need to tune into it more often. Our intuition is kind of like our spidy senses. It is the part of us that knows! For some people they get a feeling in their stomach, others get tingles, others just have a knowing in their mind. What happens though is that we push aside our intuition in favor of “logic”. Logic said to me this morning, “You have work to do”. My intuition said to me “Your fish need you”. Had I not listened to that, I may have had sick or dead fish in a few days or weeks.
Feel into your spidy senses today. See what’s showing up for you and what messages are there. They may just be telling you something different than what your agenda and schedule says. Follow your senses instead of logic, and see what happens!
A sense of belonging is critical to life. Kids do it all the time. They dye their hair funny colors, listen to music their friends listen to and use special lingo. It doesn’t change as an adult. We still want to belong.
I pick clothes in the current fashion; it is a seaside blue skirt I have on today. My hair is no longer in 80’s curls; each morning I use a flat iron to make it straight. I have an iPhone and can speak iPhone lingo! I want to fit in. I want to be accepted. I want to be liked.
Attending events and meetings can have you feeling out of your league, self conscious and anxious. It goes beyond the “Do I look good?” questions in your head. It now becomes, “Kathy, don’t make a fool of yourself and say something stupid!” As an upcoming manager I remember years ago buying books on how to work a room and how to mingle. I learned tips and tricks to breaking into conversations, getting through the before the meeting starts niceties and more importantly, I learned how to increase my confidence in social situations. Overcoming the uneasiness of fitting in as you move through your career can be quite a challenge.
Being comfortable around others starts with being comfortable in your own skin. Take time to figure out who you are; not who you want to be. While you are continuing always to grow and mature, figuring out the essence of you will have you realize what you have to offer in social situations. If you aren’t the humor type, cracking a joke is going to fall flat. If you aren’t Mr. Current Affairs, don’t try to pretend you know all about a recent news item. If however you are a small town girl who knows the value of community; if you are love dogs, know what it’s like to struggle to get all of your duties done in a day or are passionate about an aspect of work, talk about all of that! If you are smart, be smart, funny, be funny, nice, be nice!
Today I watched a gentleman enter a conference room and awkwardly invited himself to join a table. He was eccentric and even a bit aggressive. You could feel the others at the table bristle a bit as he joined them. Yet there was something about him that had me entranced by his behavior. While not socially graceful, I knew he has something to offer. I was not surprised a little while later to see him move to the front of the room as one of the speakers. A powerful passionate speaker, his eccentric qualities were part of what drew the audience in. Despite his quirks and idiosyncrasies he confidently stepped into bestowing upon us his immense knowledge and had the room in the palm of his hands.
What makes you special? What makes you different? Don’t try to hide it. Just be you in social situations. Belonging doesn’t mean blending in. It means being you and sharing what you have to offer. The next time you enter a meeting, training event or social situation, relax. Share you and what you know and who you are proudly.
It’s not about you, it really isn’t. When things happen, not taking it personally can be the key to getting through your day more confidently (something many Leaders tell me they are lacking – Confidence!)
The guy who cut you off on your way to work, the mixed up order at the coffee shop and the growled “Hello” from a co-worker as you entered the office really are not about you. They didn’t say, “Hey you, I’m going to be rude to YOU today!” That is theirs to own. It is theirs to take on and deal with it. If you pick up what everyone else is throwing down, you will be carrying a very heavy load throughout your day.
This is trickier when you are a Leader and dealing with something that your employee does. Not taking it personally is hard. I remember many times as a Leader when I would be at the brunt of someone’s anger. Their anger may have been over the wages, the way the program was working or the new forms required of them. In reality, I was the face of the company and so the direction of their frustration was at me. But it wasn’t at ME personally.
It is really important to see the distinction between this. When you take it on personally you feel guilty, angry or defensive. It becomes you against the employee. Your energy is spent with you feeling frustrated and defending your position or the position of the organization and being irritated with the employee.
Taking it personally
“It has to be done. There is nothing I can do about it.”
Here, notice your irritation and frustration about the employee. In your head, you are saying, “Here he goes whining again! Always complaining about the way things are. Why can’t they just do their work?”
Instead, when you don’t take it personally, you are able to see the problem, dilemma or circumstance for what it is. You see the emotion from the employee and acknowledge it separate from being directed at you.
Not taking it personally
“This new form feels like it is going to add extra time and hassles to your day. I get that. Lets look at it together and see what its all about. Maybe we can go back to Management and ask them to cut out one of the old ones that is redundant now or combine some of them.”
Then the key is to really get curious about the impact. Ask questions. Acknowledge their feelings. Sometimes, just being heard and acknowledged is enough for the employee to feel better, and at other times, it really is about looking at the impact and making some changes as a result.
The result for you is a feeling of being competent and confident. Your role as a Leader is to impact things. That impact here is having your employee feel supported. While you may still be frustrated with what is actually happening, by not having attachment and taking it on personally, you are able to let it go and move on to your next task for the day without the weight on you.
Want some help with not taking things personally? Check out Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements. This is a great quick read that shows you how to suffer less. As a Leader it helps you to lead from a place of integrity and authenticity. I highly recommend it!
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
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