Today marks the 30th anniversary of my sister’s death. You would think that after 30 years, I’d be “over it”. Nope. I still miss her and even more now, miss what our relationship might have become.
This week I participated in our Blue Christmas service at our Church. As I read the 40+ names of the “Angel’s” that our community has lost, my voice was strong and clear, until I hit the name “Glenda Fleming” my sister. I broke down. Not just tears as “most” people do, but sobs. I was grateful for the compassion of my friend Darlene who came to my side and helped me continue to read the remainder of the names.
I would be lying to you if I told you I love the Christmas season.
I work to make Christmas as joyous as I can,
To be honest, I’d much rather it be summer and I would prefer to be fishing at the lake. Oh don't get me wrong. I love some things about Christmas. I am one of the first to start listening to Christmas carols and they play continuously in my home. I love the lights. I love getting special gifts for special people. I especially love that our family all is together during this time.
For me, I look back over many Christmas’s and see events that dimmed the joy. I remember 3 years after my sister passed away, still fresh with the grief, I felt, very lonely. My husband and I had travelled to his sisters to celebrate the holidays. There was a houseful of people, yet, despite that, it felt like no one to experience my grief with me.
Another year, I had gone through some really challenging times a work and only 3 people showed up to the staff Christmas party I planned. Depressed and not sure I ever wanted to go back to work, I took two weeks off and tried, albeit not very successfully to “enjoy the holiday”.
The season is dimmed by many experiences
I know many of you have similar memories. Job loss. Relationships falling apart. Addictions. Always having to work. No one to spend it with. The list goes on.
The truth is, we all have a multitude of things that happen to us during the holiday season. We also have numerous things happen to us at other times, but there is something about the holiday season that makes it much harder to take. The songs and social media tell us “It’s the happiest time of the year”. Um…sorry to burst that bubble, but for some of us, it is not the happiest time of the year. In fact, it is a very difficult time of year.
Yet the show must go on
There are gifts to be bought. Parties to attend and food to cook. And honestly, it's no fun being a scrooge. So how do you do it?
Here is what I have learned about getting through the holiday season.
We create our experiences
This year, allow yourself to be human. Acknowledge your pain. Feel your hurt. It is real. What is also real is the fun, the joy and the good times going on around you.
If you allow yourself to enjoy, you will enjoy. But it is you who must decide, what kind of Christmas, it's going to be.
I plan to make it a memorable one. I will tuck lots of little moments of joy away in my heart adding to all the other beautiful Christmas memories I have.
Leaders used to have 9 key things on their To Do list and they could devise relatively simple systems to help prioritize their tasks. Now, we have at least 99 things on our To Do list, and many more that we’ve forgotten about.
The squeaky wheel gets the Leader's attention
We tend to react, simply to the item that is screaming the loudest or doing the best “you need to pay attention to me now” dance. Alternately, we turn to the one that will require the least brain power because we are numb from all that is required of us. That would likely be sifting through the same inbox again and again for an hour.
This way is killing you
None of these methods work. You know that! You know because you’ve done them for a while and you still feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. You are not getting to the really meaningful things you want to be working on.
The only way to do the work that matters is to do it.
I’ve learned over the past few years that the only way I am going to do the things that really matter, is if I do them. It’s that simple. They will not magically get done in the wee hours of the morning. There is no Rumpelstilskin in my office. They won't get done in between meetings that someone else thinks I should attend. They get done, when I put them in the top priority spot of my To Do list.
Try a new way to prioritze
The way to place meaningful work at the top is to identify what really matters by asking yourself these 3 questions when you prioritize your daily tasks.
#1 - What will bring our team closer to meeting our purpose or vision?
What is the real reason you are working on things? It isn’t about a report, a meeting or a task. Stop and think about why you do the work you do. It’s about people isn’t it? It is about real live humans that have a need. You know how to help them. The problem is that their needs get pushed back with all the administrative tasks. Get clear on what you need to do to meet the real needs of the people you serve.
#2 - What will grow our team stronger?
Running scattered this way and that will surely make it feel like you don’t have time for your employees. They will feel unimportant and separated from you. Yet, you know that a cohesive team is what gets teams through the tough times. Strong teams excel at excellent work. If you instead consider them and their need, and determine perhaps how their needs can fit with your needs you might find ways to grow together. Just like cooking or working-out with your kids close by when they are young, having your staff member actually help you with a report will not only have them develop their skills, but it will develop your relationship with them. Working together on things, rather than divide you, will grow your team stronger.
#3 - What will grow me?
The best Leaders focus on growth for themselves constantly. They read. They reflect. They take training. They involve themselves in conversations that stretch the way they think and encourage them to see things from different perspectives. But this requires time. You must schedule time to read. You must schedule time to be coached, have coffee with your mentor or attend a networking session. Do it. Make it happen.
Push the meaningful work to the top of the list
Separate the real work, the meaningful work from the task and administrative duties that blur your vision. Move them to the top of your priority list. In doing so, you will find you enjoy your job a whole lot more because you will be doing what matters most.
Watch for more inspiration about how to make the meaningful work hit the top of your list
Jam packed schedules are normal right? Everyone is running from place to place; from meeting to meeting, and from conference call to conference call. It's just the way it is. B.S!
For those of you that don't read short hand, that's Bull Shit.
That is the way we have made it. And we will continue to make it that way if we (and by we, I mean you and I) don't do something about it.
Put a stop to your crazy schedule and in doing so, help each other out by adding these three things to your schedule now.
Once a month: Set your priorities for the month. What projects are you working on? When are the due dates? Back things up to make it manageable and not last minute. Reflect on what you need to get done to meet your personal goals.
Annually: What do you want to accomplish this year? Personally I mean. Finish a course? Get a promotion? Read a book? Take time to look at what you want in addition to all that is expected of you in your Leadership role. Block off time to do this. Plan it in. If you don't you will hit the end of August wondering why over half the year feels like it's gone and you've still got so much to do.
Schedule 15 - 30 minutes a day to reflect. Our best learning and growth happens when we look back over what happened, what we did and how we responded. Taking time to look back at your day will give you guidance and direction moving forward as well as the opportunity to acknowledge yourself for successes you may instead have simply overlooked while running to the next appointment on your calendar.
TAKE YOUR BREAKS! Yes, I am yelling. If I could, I would stand on top of a tree and yell it for everyone to hear. This is vital to Leadership success. We were not meant to run at full adrenaline all day. You know this, but I will repeat it again. It is not healthy, at all to not take breaks.
Welcome to my first of a 4-part series on cleaning your office.
August is, I hope, a slower time for you. There tend to be a few less meetings. Those people that send you work maybe are on holidays. Usually there are fewer deadlines.
Is seems like a fabulous time to spend a bit of time cleaning your office allowing you to re-group before the September craziness starts.
Lets start with your desk.
Three steps to cleaning your desk
DO NOT start with sorting.
But what if I forget something?
You might have a fear that putting the other “stuff” away that doesn’t currently belong on your desk will have you forget it. In my experience, that doesn’t usually happen. If it is something important, put something on your to do list, on your calendar or my favorite, send yourself an email. Then put the file/pile/book/form away until your really do need it. The rest, the stuff you actually do forget about, probably wasn’t really important in the first place ;-)
Clearing your desk will clear you mind. A calmer you will emerge.
Today I am going to point you back to the last four weeks of blog posts and videos about saying “No”.
Maybe you missed all of them or didn’t have time to read or watch each one. Here they are again for you to review. There are four key messages in the posts that I want to make sure you get.
Key Messages about saying "No"
Check back in August for my four part series on cleansing. No, it won’t be about drinking lots of weird fruit juice. It will be about cleaning your office, your calendar, your email and your briefcase. August is typically a slower time for most people. It might be time for you to do a bit of “spring cleaning” of your workspaces.
Getting clear on your "No"
Last week I talked about how to say "No". Review that blog first if you didn't get a chance to read it and watch the video. It is important to get it down so that you feel relatively comfortable about what you are saying "No" to and practice saying “No”.
Are you getting pushback on your "No"
Possibly you have said "No", and you are getting push back. Your boss says, basically, you can't say "No". Perhaps they didn't hear you or maybe they didn’t hear you correctly. Maybe they did hear you and don't believe you. They don’t believe you really mean it. At any rate, here is how to handle these situations.
The 3 R's of making "No" mean "No"
I'm on your side
It is probably hard for you to say “No” the first time around. Having to do it a second time will be even harder. I’m rooting for you to do it. I know you need less on your plate so that you can move towards more balance in your life.
I am super excited to present you with another blog from a guest blogger. This time it is Robert Manolson BA, CCDP, Creator & Facilitator Powerful Play Experiences.
A few years ago I attended one of Robert's sessions. I love his energy and the fun he created in the room.
I don't think we have enough fun at work. We get bogged down in the "stuff" that shows up every day. The clients I work with want to enjoy life more. That can happen at work too!
Robert presents a powerful message about the value of adding fun into your day.
FUN AT WORK is permission for a time out from an all too busy world of work to feel engaged, manage stressors, open lines of communication, and strengthen employee relationships.
FUN AT WORK achieves the goal of simply bringing people together in a most unique experience. Through the sheer magic of playing together, we create a feeling of community in which team members at work are truly connected, operating more effectively with each other and generating more excitement and energy at the workplace.
A lighthearted introduction to a serious topic that prompts the obvious first question:
Does your Employee Health & Wellness Policy include FUN AT WORK? And more importantly, in your capacity of leadership and influence, are you spearheading a healthy Work-Fun Balance at your workplace? And if not, what's stopping you?
It's really all about big picture thinking and a big picture approach to creating a healthy workplace culture and a healthy workplace environment. In fact, take a look around and check out the number of companies and organizations committed to this whole new attitude towards FUN AT WORK as part of their refreshing approach to Employee/Team Health & Wellness.
Raising Fun Levels
What if your team members had permission for FUN AT WORK, permission to play at work, to interact, to laugh, and to engage in play experiences that totally generates a buzz of excitement in the workplace? Isn't it really all about happy staff? 100% of people surveyed agree that they all can use more FUN AT WORK, generate more excitement and energy, and create a dynamic team of individuals working together as partners in their department's success. That's a pretty bold statement. Agreed? But if asked, wouldn't your employees also clearly state that they too could use more FUN AT WORK? After all, the atmosphere at work is much more appealing and people even report an increased feeling of “community and connectedness” in the workplace.
1. When planning for the upcoming year the first step to best address incorporating FUN AT WORK is to organize a set of standards in your best practices model around the driving belief that we need to have more fun. Your ability to focus on enhancing the value of your department's services by totally integrating this attitude into your best practices model results in organizational learning opportunities, AGMs, meetings, staff appreciation events, etc., that are more appealing, invigorating and leading edge for staff and management.
2. Over the past couple of years, it's quite encouraging to see more and more companies wanting to increase fun levels at their workplace. They believe in the value of fun and play as solutions to workplace challenges. While there may be different reasons or objectives as to why they want to harness the power of FUN AT WORK, there are common threads. And although we can streamline these common threads to nicely fit into one or more of the following intentions, it is vital to be clear as to your FUN AT WORK intentions that best fit your particular workplace.
3. Ultimately it does starts with you when including FUN AT WORK in your Employee Health & Wellness Policy. Because FUN AT WORK is a whole new attitude and a vehicle for positive change, you need to embrace a refreshing, personal philosophy towards FUN AT WORK and play.
Because decision makers are motivated to get their employees happy to be where they are and all pulling in the same direction, the range of service providers as well as the techniques they apply continues to grow in popularity. There's been a noticeable increase in adventure activities, extreme sports and creative variations on the deluge of reality shows we see on television. How complex does this have to be? The only limits are your imagination. My general rule of thumb is to involve a broad range of staff and management in the planning process, yet keep the process simple and filled with lightheartedness. Most significantly, the value of FUN AT WORK means giving attention to people's concerns for their own physical and emotional safety. A safe experience is played with a responsibility that nobody is hurt. After all, at the end of the day it's really all about a smile on everyones' faces.
Now, go ahead. Make it happen!
Robert Manolson is the Creator & Facilitator of Powerful Play Experiences and is in the business of FUN AT WORK. He leads organizations in Workplace Fun & Wellness Workshops and believes that each day and every day we must re-energize and ignite our spirit within through the power of play and the value of FUN AT WORK. Contact Robert at www.powerfulplayexperiences.ca
We've all wished for more. Many of us want more time, more peace, a higher income or more quiet times in our day. Some times it is an ache for that feeling of more just a few more hours of sleep. If you've been trying to figure out how to adjust your schedule to suit your needs better, try these three tips
1) Vision what you really want
In order to create a new schedule, it's helpful to know specifically what you are looking for.
You don't go to the car dealer and say I want a new car. You go with some specifics in mind. You might want a two door or four door. You may actually want a SUV. If your like me you probably even know what colour your looking for. You've probably been visioning your new car for a while.
Take a moment to vision your new schedule. Close your eyes for and imagine it's already happened. Imagine 6 months from now you've figured out how to adjust your schedule and it is working beautifully. What does it look like?
Look closely at things and get the details down.
2) Write it out
We all have different definitions of what more relaxed looks like. Your idea of a calm day may be very different than mine. When you say you want more time to yourself does that mean 10 minutes a day or 1 full day a month?
Grab a piece of paper or a journal and write out "a day with my new schedule". Detail what would happen and when. Be as specific as you can.
3. Revisit it often (daily is best)
It's important to be clear when you create the vision. and here is why ... what you think about you create in your reality.
Lets say for example you want to exercise more. Yet you keep seeing all the interuptions that get in the way of your ability to exercise. That's what your thinking about, so that's what you get... more interruptions.
Instead imagine, vision, create in your minds eye, what it would look like if you did find time. Imagine finding the time to go for a 10 minute walk at lunch. See yourself heading to the gym in the mornings. Visualize yourself attending a yoga class. Watch a vision of you doing some ab exercises while lying on the floor with your children. See exercise fitting into your day.
When you review your vision every day, you will suddenly see it happening!
We are often drawn to our work because it has meaning for us. We are somehow connected to the real meaning of what we do. If you are able to figure that out and use it as a yard stick for measuring the work you do, the decisions you make and the energy you invest, you will be a step ahead of most of your peers.
My purpose is to grow emerging leaders in organizations so that both the individual and the organization are more connected thus doing more Great work. It is why I coach, why I speak and why I write. I do my work to make a difference to the upcoming leaders of our organizations so they can lead more balanced lives and be connected to their families at the same time as working hard in an organization to make a difference.
Being connected to that purpose helps me to stay on track. A few months back, I took on the opportunity to teach the Parenting After Separation Course. The first month in, I knew I'd learned something big. I wasn't passionate about the project. It was growing parents, something very important to me, but not truly my core purpose. And so while it is extremely valuable work, I knew I needed to pass the project on to someone who was much more passionate than I. This gives the project a lead that is fully invest in it. It then frees up my time to do the work I am meant to do, Grow Great Leaders!
This summer I was fortunate to spend a week at the lake developing my Growing Great Leaders course. I enjoyed making some video blogs while I was there. Below find my video on finding your core purpose. Then try to figure out what your core purpose is.
Here is a formula to help you.
To Add a verb. What do you want to do?
What? or Who? Who do you want to have an impact on?
How? What? or Why What difference will it make? In what way?
Here is my core purpose statement
Emerging Leaders who make real differences in their organization and the world
I connect them to themselves, their families and their world, so that they may do the Great Work they were meant to do.
Here's Wal-Mart’s, just so you have something to compare it to.
To give ordinary fold the chance to buy the same things as rich people.
What's your core purpose statement?
I believe leaders are grown not born. I believe it is the responsibility of organizations to grow individuals on their teams to become great leaders. And, I don’t think that doing is necessarily easy!
I started a LinkedIn group called Emerging Leaders of Alberta Organizations to have discussions with organizations around Alberta on the challenges and successes in growing great leaders. Leaders who lead their teams through change and growth to provide better services for their clients and the people they serve. Leaders who inspire their team and lead with integrity and determination.
Currently many organizations are facing the imminent retirement of their senior leaders and are not sure where the next leader will come from. While there are some key people within the organization that may have been identified, those people are not sure they want to step into the 70+ hours/week responsibility of running an organization. If these people do not move up, the organizations are left with the challenge of recruiting outside the agency, which can have challenges as well.
By organizations, I mean non-profits, private agencies and volunteer organizations and probably many more. And by emerging leaders, I mean individuals in organizations who have the desire or potential to step into leadership positions or who already are in junior leadership positions and who may see a continued path of leadership in front of them.
Here are some of the things I am wondering and thinking about:
I am curious also as a coach, where mentoring and coaching might benefit emerging leaders. Do current leaders have the skills, desire and time to commit to that? What does it look like? And do agencies have the resources, curiosity and interest to try that? For agencies that are already trying, how is it working?
So many questions and I know that many organizations are finding some answers. They are, despite cutbacks and shortages of resources finding leaders to step up to the plate. I want to hear more about their successes.
I believe conversation is one of the best starting points to overcoming challenges. I have been a part of these conversations already and feel the urgency among those to address the leadership crisis that is appearing in our province.
What do you think? Is there a leadership crisis? Why or why not? What can we do about it or what is already being done to address it?
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
Sign up for my newsletter here!
Want to follow my blog?
Click the RSS feed below and follow the instructions. That way, you won't miss any updates!