Question The Authority

Hello friend,

As always, I adore our time together and our conversation got me thinking about some of the things that helped me during my own transition/journey. It prompted me to re-read Lean In, and I found some ideas that apply to us ladies at the table.  I’ve encapsulated some of them below.

“From a very early age, boys are encouraged to take charge and offer their opinions. Teachers interact more with boys, call on them more frequently, and ask them more questions.  Boys are also more likely to call out answers, and when they do, teachers usually listen to them.  When girls call out, teachers often scold them for breaking the rules and remind them to raise their hands if they want to speak.”

I adore our friend “The Authority”, and he truly is a champion for hungry souls. At the same time, he has a male, foreign- based world view; and he may not be aware of how his bias can affect others. His advice is like any other advice – if it applies, follow it; if it doesn’t, leave it behind, without guilt.  It struck me that his advice to you was limiting.  Here is someone who is successful and whom we all admire, essentially telling you to be satisfied with what you’ve achieved.  Part of his point was to say:   recognize what you HAVE accomplished.  But I hear you consistently saying you can do more, and have an urgent need to realize that aspiration.  Listen to that too.

My thoughts: if you want more, go and get it.  Honor that need, that ambition, that drive – while at the same time, realizing the impact you do have.  Be grateful…AND aspire to more.

2 Questions:

  • Where do you make your highest point of contribution?
  • What do you want to say you have accomplished when you are looking back on your life?

You may not have answers to these right now, but if you work on this, it will inform your next steps.

“Fear is at the root of so many of the barriers that women (and men) face. Fear of not being liked.  Fear of making the wrong choice.  Fear of drawing negative attention.  Fear of failure.

Your situation is challenging – when you’ve been part of a team for a long time, it can seem so hard to leave to move on to something else. Emotionally, you have a lot invested, as do they.  And it is really hard to move into a new position when you aren’t sure what the team is like or what you will be able to accomplish.  There are no guarantees and it is often easier to stay with the status quo.  Once you make the move though, the path becomes clearer, and you begin to build something new.

We talked about gut on Friday night, and I wanted to point out that you have your own highly developed emotional intelligence. Leverage that.

Sheryl Sandberg talks about the leadership ambition gap and asks: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?  And then go do it.”  This is great advice, and we all should follow it in the way that makes the most sense to each of us. In closing, I invite you to question the authority, take the good advice, leverage your emotional intelligence…and let yourself soar!

                                         whatwould

Sources:

  • Quotes from Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Highest point of contribution concept was introduced to me by Greg McKeown’s book:  Essentialism

 

 

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Change Management

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I now consider myself an expert in change.  I can say this because I have moved exactly 19 times.  Places lived include New York, Colorado, California, Hawaii, California, Connecticut, and California.  Yes, I have moved to CA 3 times so far.  My good friends have several pages in their address book with this collection of addresses.  Also, the nature of the restaurant industry is one of constant movement and change – and our family has seen our share of job changes.  While all this experience has been useful, it did not prepare me for the depth of change experienced in the past 3 years as I have been seeking my place in this new chosen career.  Looking through my journal, I found this note, dated August 16, 2013.  To this day it remains on the office wall.

During this career transition

Be open
Aspire
Live in the moment
Be clear
Calibrate
Don’t let emotions rule
Don’t settle
Persevere
Improve, grow
Trust my heart
Have faith
Use your instincts
Be fierce

Change is naturally upsetting, which can have benefits and drawbacks.  There is always a period of hellish raw chaos, but from that comes new ideas, fresh ways of thinking, a stronger sense of self and usually in my case, a new beautiful place to live.

Here are some of my rules for change, whether personal or in the workplace:

  1. Remember:  it’s temporary – things always settle down.
  2. That resentment you are feeling…honor that, then let it go.
  3. Cut yourself and others a little slack – rarely are we at our best or most confident during upheaval.
  4. Create some new rituals in the new environment.  Explore your surroundings.
  5. Label your boxes – literally and metaphorically.  If it’s a change in the workplace, reorganization, a layoff, a promotion, or an office move, it is good to sort out what it is you’ll need in the new situation.   Writing down your ideas at this stage can help clarify your thinking on both what you need to do and how you feel about it.

What are your rules for change?

The Pusher, The Workbench and 9 Minutes of Inspiration

Lower SaranacThe Pusher

I’ve been pushing, pushing, pushing towards my goals, and for some time now have felt a constant pressure to learn as much as possible, as fast as I can. After the past few years of exploration, schooling and inner work, I’ve found my niche at the intersection of leadership development, organizational effectiveness and coaching, and I want to be an expert, NOW!  To this end I’ve created ambitious goals in my quest to become an expert as quickly as possible.  At times this creates a low-grade panic and feeling of needing to constantly work towards these goals.  As I was talking this over with my brother, he asked me:  “What if you stopped pushing?”  “What if you just accept where you are in your life right now?”

Hmmm.  What if?

So I’ve been thinking about that ever since, and have been trying it on for size in various situations in which I’m trying to effect change.

This does not mean I abandon my objectives.  What I find happening is that when I stop actively pushing so hard towards each goal, there is an opening up of space that allows me to think differently about the problems I’m working on.  There is relief that I can step back.  This step back allows other information to filter in, other doors to reveal themselves, other opinions to be heard and my mind and heart to process the information.  What is in fact happening is that the right solution is brewing and will become clear when it’s good and ready.

The Workbench

I’ve been following Michael Hyatt of late and in one of his blog posts, he spoke about his Blog being his workbench.  I instantly fell in love with that idea because it has given me permission to write and try out my ideas, with less editing/fiddling/finessing.  I have been holding back on growing my blog – need to create a theme! Need to have posts ahead!  Need to plan! Etc!    Much can be built from a workbench, and both the process and the content can be helpful to others NOW.

An idea: Embracing the whole of what life offers means that sometimes we have to live in an uncomfortable place, with unruly emotions, anxiety, or other discomforts that we all prefer to push away; and that are for some reason deemed unacceptable in our culture.  My wise brother has shared with me a book called Radical Acceptance, which I’ve been actively avoiding reading for over a year now, but have finally picked up and begun.

Again…relief.   The takeaway for me in this book again is:  Face what is in your life right now, but without judgment.  Take a pause and look.  Feel what you are feeling, bad or good.   You don’t have to react, just…observe. Then decide what’s next.  When you allow for this pause, your actions are more likely to help you build rather than destroy.  For any of us who are involved with change initiatives at work, or have stepped into new territory in our careers or personal lives this is immensely helpful.  The “startup” phase if naturally uncomfortable; removing judgment and accepting the process can allow some peace and grace as you move through it.

9 Minutes of Inspiration

This Ted Talk by Louie Schwartzberg reminds me of how soothing nature can be and the impact of gratitude on your state of mind.    Having grown up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, one of the most beautiful places in the world, I find myself remembering how powerfully healing our natural world can be.  When you need a pick me up…watch this!  http://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_nature_beauty_gratitude?language=en

I invite you to share your story…Comments always welcome!

Resources:

Ruthless Prioritization

No, not everything is important.  It just seems like it is.  We feel important when we are busy, when things are “blowing up”, and this constant new cultural way of responding to each item, each stimulus tugging at our attention doesn’t really mean we are busy.  This is not to say we aren’t, I would never suggest that.  But aren’t you just a wee bit sick of hearing everyone use that expression each time you ask them how they are?  I really am.  I refuse to utter those words, because it is obvious, and I consciously choose to make time for the things that are important to me.

So is it possible to get a handle on this?  I believe it starts with awareness.  If you interested at taking a look at your habits and defining what is important you can start to achieve a balance in your life that will be uniquely meaningful.  Caveat:  It is an investment of time and thought on the front end that results in clarity and peace that is fulfilling, even during the most chaotic of times.

In our MSEL classes at the University of San Diego, we discuss the importance of rank-ordering your values.  This is important because, quite often, two (or more) things that are important vie for your attention, and how do you choose between them?  This is true whether you are discussing personal values or business objectives. In his wonderful book co-authored with Ken Blanchard called Helping People Win at Work, Garry Ridge of WD-40 Company lists their company values as follows:

  1. Doing the right thing.
  2. Creating positive, lasting memories in all our relationships
  3. Making it better than it is today
  4. Succeeding as a tribe while excelling as individuals
  5. Owning it and passionately acting on it
  6. Sustaining the WD-40 economy

He has specific reasons for the order they are in.  Unless you have considered the importance of each value or task, it is hard to discern where to put your energy.  If you have done the inner work to decide what level of importance you attach to these conflicting goals, it becomes easy to decide where to focus your energy.

My personal values, rank ordered are:

  1. Personal health:  sleep, food and exercise
  2. Family well-being:  health, quality time, household organization
  3. Job and Career:  bring home some bacon, continued growth

The evolution of these values began while I was reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey.  I LOVE this book and would say that it may have been the most influential book I’ve read while on my journey of self-discovery.  One key point that remains relevant is his Time Management Matrix which distinguishes between the urgent and the important.  The urgent things grab our attention and demand immediate action and can give us a sense of accomplishment and immediate gratification.  The important things often get neglected as they don’t seem urgent, but whole blocks of your life can go by while you put out fires, and then you realize that you haven’t attended to what is really important – what you truly value and what contributes to your high priority goals.

There are many other things that I am trying to accomplish at any given time, but if I don’t attend to these main things first, then I am not living the way I want to live.  I consciously choose personal health as my top value, because I know that if I am not taking care of myself, then I can’t really do a good job in the other areas.

I read an article recently in Time Magazine about Sheryl Sandberg, who is the author of the book Lean In which is generating some wonderfully heated discussion (ok, also some outright attitude) and that has fired up many people on both sides of the gender aisle.  What I love about the conversation is that there is CONVERSATION.  This is a good thing.  It feels like discussions of “women’s concerns” had gone underground for a while (I may have just been really BUSY) and now has erupted again.  I am learning to “lean in” to the discomfort a heated discussion creates for me.  I have become a convert to this idea that heated discussion and conflict are good, especially when everyone plays strong and fair.  It is these discussions that allow ideas to grow and that move us all forward in our thinking and then to action.

Debate and discussion aside, one of the most impactful ideas from this article came from a little sign that Sheryl has in her conference room: “Ruthlessly Prioritize”.  I wrote this phrase on my whiteboard at work immediately and have been circling around this thought since I first read the article.  I suffer from the chronic fear of “not enough time,” and so this has resonated with me deeply.  Because I am in a significant career transition in my life, and because I am a mom, wife, full time employee and grad student, this has necessarily become my mantra.

So, in the spirit of ruthless prioritization and time management, allow yourself to take the time to decide your values in rank order and consciously let the seemingly urgent but not really important stuff fall away.  It is not for the faint of heart, this discipline, but it will create a thoughtful and clear road forward in your personal life and in your work.

Thoughts, ideas and comments always welcome…keep the conversation going!

Resources:
Book:  Helping People Win at Work by Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge
Book:  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey
Article:  “Confidence Woman” by Belinda Luscombe Time Magazine, March 18, 2013
MSEL Program Website: http://www.sandiego.edu/business/programs/graduate/leadership/executive_leadership/

Second Acts and Choices

…Been thinking a lot lately (since 2002, to be exact) about what I want to DO with my life, what my “Second Act” will be.  I spent the first part of my working life in the restaurant industry which was hard and fun and wonderful and difficult, but dynamic.  I chose my major at college because it sounded interesting, and Anthropology IS interesting.  I just didn’t consider what I would do with it as a profession.  As it became clear that I wasn’t interested in pursuing an advanced degree, I turned to the restaurant industry, which was a good choice at the time.  Business was booming and I was a foodie in San Francisco in the 90’s…which was a really exciting time.  I met so many people that were into food and we talked and learned about it constantly.  We ate and drank like kings and queens at beautiful spaces and places.  Great time!  But 10 years in that industry can wear a person down, and I do believe that restaurant/hotel work is “young people work”…and it certainly isn’t the best kind of work if you want to have a family.  People do it all the time, but it is taxing, and you pay with your blood.  So, since our son was born in 2002, I have been wondering:  what am I going to do?  I mean this in the serious way, the planning way.  I wanted to make a life in food, but I didn’t know how to do it and not work nights and weekends and holidays.  Since my husband is also a chef and the lead moneymaker in our family, I needed to be able to work a more family friendly schedule.  So I have had jobs over the past 10 years that allow me to be a flexible parent, using a combination of my food knowledge, anthropology background, and administrative skills.  I have been an office manager for a financial services company and in a wine brokerage firm; I have been a Quality Control Manager for a commercial bakery, I have free-lanced at bakeries and hotels, made and sold jewelry, and was a sales administrative assistant for 2 hotels.  These jobs have helped us pay our bills, and the best job yet was the bakery job because it used so many of my skills and gifts – it was there I felt most engaged.  (And tasting pastries daily as part of my job was damn cool.) Still, none of these have filled this need I have for doing more substantial work.

A ton of choices, how to choose?

Here’s what I have been doing to get some clarity on my next steps:

Reading
Writing
“Flirting” with my interests
Meditating

Trusting that the answers will come if I give myself a little grace.  Here is where I am, right now, and it is as good a place as any to be.