Drain the Swamp!

alligator

“When one is up to his a– in alligators, it is easy to forget that his original objective was to drain the swamp.”
-William Moore

I hail from a tribe of creative, restless, responsible souls who prefer DOING as much as possible, because we can, because we like the challenge, and sometimes, because we (mistakenly) think it is more economical. This applies to baking birthday cakes, building new garages, or making holiday gifts…as well as hiring employees or delegating work: the “doer” side seeks satisfaction, which at times can be a detriment from an efficiency, cost and, most importantly, a leadership standpoint.

I was talking with a colleague last night who leads an office on the west coast and shares a similar bent. He has been struggling with finding talented help, and the increased workload has put a strain on him and his team. This was affecting their productivity and clarity of purpose.

I asked, “There has got to be a way that you can find some good help for your firm. Where have you been looking, and how can you expand that search? Who else can help with this?” He then said: “well, I haven’t been working with a headhunter, because it’s seems like such a hassle, and I’m not sure I’ll get the candidates I need.”

“That may be, but it in this case, your greatest need is to find talent, and right now, you don’t have the adequate bandwidth to recruit on your own. You need to drain the swamp. Focus on what will make the most positive impact for the office and the firm. Consider this is an investment, money well spent.

It was one of those “aha” moments. He decided to make the call that very moment and we hung up. Leadership is evaluating the need and resources available, and then making the call.

Those of us from this tribe that will bake the cake, change the oil, or personally hire new talent should use the resources available so we can do the jobs we are meant to do.   Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. Stay clear. Drain the swamp.

***

Side note: I first heard this from one of my bosses and it caught my attention.  Also of note: There are many versions of this quote/proverb; this was my favorite. For more, see: http://www.redstate.com/diary/barrypopik/2010/07/29/origin-and-history-of-drain-the-swamp-mother-jones-reagan-rumsfeld-pelosi/

Sources:

  •  Quote Source: William Moore, 1971 from Blind Man on a Freeway
  • Image credit: khou.com

3 Small Things That Improve Quality of Life

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One of my favorite people is working way more than they should right now, and has no idea when things will settle down. Perhaps sometime next year.  I know how easy it is to get so busy that you feel you can’t step back and take care of yourself and relax enough to experience the other things in life that can bring real joy.

“You have to put yourself first.”

“Get comfortable that not everything is going to get done.”

It is so easy to give advice, and so difficult to take it. I could say this, but it wouldn’t be really helpful, because I’m wearing different shoes.  And to tell the truth, I have an appointment on my calendar at noon each day to take my walk, and I’m only honoring that commitment about 30% of the time. It’s not that I can’t get out at lunch; it’s that I get in work mode and I love my work.  And there is more to do than I can reasonably expect to get done.

In an attempt to avoid dousing this favorite with too much unsolicited “coaching” advice, (because even when solicited, advice is best in very small doses), I thought I would write down a few things are non-negotiable, no matter what.  Trial and error has shown that these things I can’t do without.  Most of the time, these things allow me to have joy throughout each day, and also allow me to enjoy my family and work.

  1. Sleep when I’m tired.
  2. Take time daily to reflect.
  3. Devices off at least one hour before bed.

About sleep – more and more people are realizing that their productivity, patience, clarity and overall health is directly tied to being well rested.  Arianna Huffington experienced her own “wake-up” call (pun intended) when she experienced a fall that was a direct result of exhaustion:

“The biggest first change that I made was sleep. At the end of each section of the book, I have three little baby steps that I recommend. They mirror the baby steps that I took. The first one was I began getting 30 minutes more sleep a night than I was getting before, until gradually I got from four to five hours, which is what I was getting before I collapsed, to seven to eight hours, which is what I’m getting now. The result has been transformational. All the science now demonstrates unequivocally that when we get enough sleep, everything is better: our health; our mental capacity and clarity; our joy at life and our ability to live life without reacting to every bad thing that happens. In everybody’s life, there are things that happen every day that we wish had not happened. How we react to them very much determines the quality of our life.”

On reflection – one of the pieces of advice I wanted to bestow on this unlucky favorite of mine is about reflecting. The recommendation would be this:  Take the time during the commute each day to reflect and spend time thinking about big picture goals, or just meditating and journaling. Phone Off. Seriously, it’s just for 30 minutes.  Reflecting has become a regular part of my life; otherwise, I am up at 3:00 am processing all the stuff I should have been reflecting on during my commute.  Now it is an essential part of each day.  I now can tell when I need a few minutes to regroup, and I take them.  This allows for a more effective, gracious, relaxed, and calm presence and most importantly, better decision making. It takes some reprogramming, and it is essential that there isn’t another distraction pulling at you.  But really – phone off, so the beeps, bells, alarms, swooshes etc. don’t tease your addicted brain.

Before Bed – devices off. Yes, more about sleep.  There has been a lot of scientific research documenting the effect our flat things have on our sleep patterns. “Careful studies have shown that even small electronic devices emit sufficient light to miscue the brain and promote wakefulness.”  (National Sleep Foundation, URL below)  So for those who read on e-readers before bed, or check email one last time, it might help your sleep patterns to read an old-school book to prepare your brain for rest.  I read something light every night before bed because I love to read, and it is part of makes up what I consider “the good life.”

So… these three things I can say I adhere to with regularity, and would invite everyone to consider. Sleep allows for greater overall health and productivity, reflection slows down our too-quick lives and allows some spaciousness in our thinking, and a break from our devices allows our overtasked brains a break, which leads to better sleep.

#Slowdown #Sleepisgood #Choosehealth

Resources

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/third-metric-success-arianna-huffington/

https://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/electronics-the-bedroom