How to Know if Your Project Was Effective

How to Know if Your Project Was Effective

No matter what your profession, you have projects. Projects are larger-scale tasks/initiatives that gather multiple people with a myriad of steps to accomplish something of impact for a recipient. They take a lot of energy and time. And, I believe that anything worth doing is worth evaluating–both for what worked and what could be improved for the next project.

Sure, the main metric for effectiveness is whether we got ‘er done, but what about looking at many different gears in the process for fine-tuning. Doing a post-mortem following a project’s completion might include a rating scale of 1-10 on these statements:

  • The team worked together well (good communication, dynamics, and relational connections).
  • The team was able to succeed without the leader.
  • We did our best work within the time frame allotted.
  • Everyone was given the big picture. Expectations were aligned to the vision and well-communicated on the front end and clarified throughout based on ongoing results. Feedback flowed freely–with respectful candor.
  • The team held themselves accountable to their action items.
  • Status reports were timely and well-communicated to those who needed to be included.
  • We hit our milestones along the way and celebrated them. The final product accomplished what was intended.
  • We included those who needed to be engaged.
  • Our constituents were pleased with the results.
  • We stayed on or under budget.
  • Our work benefited our organization and each team member.

Then there are questions to ask yourself as team leader (or team member) for evaluating your part in the project:

  • Did I contribute quality work?
  • Did I meet the deadlines with my tasks?
  • Did I improve the project in some way?
  • Did I learn something that will help me in future projects from someone else?
  • Did I stretch myself outside my comfort zone?
  • Did I help someone get over some hurdles, stay out of trouble, and succeed?
  • Did I delegate appropriately both responsibility and authority?
  • Were the expectations on my role fulfilled?
  • Did I stand on high moral ground and take the high road when in conflict?
  • Did I self-regulate any negative feelings along the way?
  • Was I approachable for communication and never a bottleneck to progress?

You might want to add your own questions to mine to customize it to your situation, or to emphasize an area of greater importance to what success looks like.  I’d love to hear your additions to the list! I’m at growingforward@paulcasey.org

Small Things Make a Big Difference–guest blog by Chris Baker

Small Things Make a Big Difference–guest blog by Chris Baker

How are you doing?

Is 2021 panning out the way you hoped?

If you set a goal or made a New Year’s Resolution, how is that going?

I ask these questions because it is important to know what you are doing that will take you from where you are now to where you want to be. Of course, there are 3 keys to this being successful:

  1. Having a clear picture of where you want to go
  2. Being realistic and taking responsibility for where you are now
  3. Measuring and reviewing your progress on a daily basis

While this looks like a simple process, and it is, I urge you not to mistake this for meaning that it is easy, because it isn’t. You make ask: what is the difference between simple and easy? Simple means it is not complicated. If you follow the process it will work. Easy means you don’t need to concentrate or give it your full attention, and this definitely is not the case when you are pursuing your dreams.

Most people above the age of 11 or 12 do not have a clear picture of what they want from their life. You see, we are conditioned to accept things the way they are, and we are taught to play safe so that we don’t get hurt or, God forbid, fail! You should know that this is NOT the way that I think, nor the way that I teach my coaching clients to think. This is a closed, finite mindset which will probably lead to a life of regret where you say: “If only”, “what if” etc.

Remember this: You are where you are now as a result of the actions you have taken in the past. Every action has a consequence and you control what actions you take–so choose wisely. In the past I have been guilty of “sugar coating” my situation, believing that I was where I was because other people had done me wrong. This simply isn’t true. Yes, other people may not have your best interests at heart and therefore they may make decisions that affect you–but is everything a result of other people’s actions? No!

It is also true that most people do not review their current status daily and, if they do, they rarely accept responsibility for where they are. One of the best ways to do this is to start a journal. This doesn’t have to be a long and arduous task. Start by writing down what you are grateful for each day and what impact you had on others. Note what tasks you achieved and how this made you feel. Over time you can expand this if you want to, but the main thing is to be consistent and be honest with yourself.

Small daily actions repeated consistently over time will have a massive impact on the direction your life takes. What actions you need to take on a daily basis will depend on your departure point (where you are now) and your destination point (where you want to be)–so now is the time to get clear on what these points are so that you can starting putting into action the steps that you choose to take.

Your future is in your hands; so choose wisely, my friend. Go out and make a positive impact in the world and live the life that you choose.

Chris Baker
Founder – Release Your Unconscious
Developing Tomorrows Leaders Today”
407-347-7681
16 Daily Success Habits

16 Daily Success Habits

I queried my coaching clients last month for the habits they do every day in order to have a better chance at a typical day being successful. It’s important to do them every day and be fully present/invested in them in order to get the cumulative effect of them on your life.

Outside of work:

  • Exercising regularly: this habit was mentioned the most often by my clients–some choose the morning, others at lunch time to rejuvenate their afternoons, and others, right after work
  • Journaling: a place to write down feelings, learnings, chronology of your life
  • Drinking more water: having that water bottle/hydroflask always within arm’s reach
  • Eating healthier: most are making small changes, from cutting out most sugar, to eating breakfast daily, to intermittent fasting.
  • Going to sleep earlier; getting up earlier: not wasting time by staying up late, but instead “getting after it” first thing in the morning
  • Doing spiritual practices: some found that Bible-reading, meditation, or prayer set the tone for a great day by setting positive intentions
  • Prioritizing Me-time: some solitude just for self without obligations to family or anyone else, for personal recharging

At work:

  • Refreshing the to-do list, then setting priorities and reminders: some kind of daily review/preview was the next highest response for success; clients wanted to stay current with what was most important to pursue and not let it fall off their radar screens
  • Checking in/engaging with someone: especially while tele-working, it takes effort–but well-worth the effort–to connect with a colleague, supervisor, or direct report
  • Allotting uninterrupted blocks of time for productivity; getting action items crossed off the list; getting a project to a milestone: blocking time for specific tasks is a time management superpower; honoring those appointments with yourself takes discipline–but the results are completed tasks, a great “reward”!
  • Allotting uninterrupted blocks of time for strategic thinking: most leaders know they need this time, but it’s tough to protect the time for thinking through ideas or next steps or a better vision for the future of the organization or team
  • Following up: this habit builds trust when you do what you say you will do; it’s also important for closing loops, and for assuring delegated tasks are moving along toward completion
  • Responding to communications promptly: it’s vital to not be the bottle-neck in someone else getting down their critical path to their task or project; answer those emails and text messages!
  • Staying organized: letting paperwork or email get out of control only doubles your stress; make systems for everything–and work your systems daily–in order to stay on top of everything
  • Developing a team member, matching their strengths to tasks: great leaders spend a little time each day helping a team member move forward on their goals or career plan, removing obstacles or making connections for them or pointing them to resources for growth
  • Bringing energy/enthusiasm/inspiration to someone else: teams become shadows of their leaders–so, by projecting enthusiasm onto others, it can become contagious–and who wants to follow an uninspired leader?

It’s a great list to pick from! How many of these do you practice regularly? What new habit do you want to incorporate this month? Let’s interact at growingforward@paulcasey.org or at Growing Forward Services on Facebook.

18 Agile Actions I Took in 2020

18 Agile Actions I Took in 2020

I just finished my annual planning day, and am very excited to share with you some reflections about how I adjusted to this crazy year, to make it one that I can look back on with gratitude instead of negativity. Although I’m typically a beaver-golden retriever personality style (CS on the DISC) who likes my routines once I find effective ones, I do experiment with habits to keep my life interesting–tossing out what doesn’t serve me well and incorporating what does. That became increasingly important in 2020 when so many things turned upside-down, and the tendency was to focus on what we didn’t have instead of what choices we still had/have.

Hoping that my list might help you see how you made some pivots for the better this year, too–or ones that might influence the goals you will be setting for yourself this week for a new year’s fresh start.

Health/Wellness

  1. Creative exercising. When the gyms closed, it was a real let-down as I use my gym time as me-time, personal-development time (with podcasts/audio books) and fitness time–then it was gone! I walked my neighborhood every possible way, hiked local Badger Mtn and bicycled more than usual, found The Body Project videos on-line to exercise to, and escaped the Tri-Cities to some beautiful place in the NW for hiking with a mask on.
  2.  Re-upping the diet. While I didn’t gain 19 lbs in COVID-19, I still got to a weight that didn’t make me feel my best–mostly from so many sedentary Zoom appointments. In late October, I re-committed to losing that extra weight, and now need to push to get to a healthy weight in early 2021.
  3. Chiropractic care. After a few years of unresolvable neck/shoulder tension, including trying massage therapy, I bit the bullet and walked into my local chiropractor. I was nervous, and it’s unsettling at first to get adjusted, but it really made the difference to getting a nagging physical issue dealt with.
  4. Dental surgery. Another thing I was putting off was getting a gum gap in the back of my mouth addressed so that infections would not creep in. I dread the dentist as it is, but this one was a much bigger oral surgery. Glad I did it, and it made sense to do during quarantine when I wasn’t giving in-person presentations.
  5. Expensive pillow. Yes, I bought a $100 pillow. I knew the research was saying how sleep was even more important during lockdown than it was before; so I invested in a quality pillow to better ensure quality sleep–to attack each day out of abundance of rest.
  6. Clean comedians. I needed to laugh more since I couldn’t laugh in person with friends like in past years. On Sirius XM radio, there is a LaughU channel that I turned on first whenever I got into my car (which was much less often). People probably wondered about me, as I laughed out loud while alone in my vehicle. But it was good for mental health!
  7. Social connections. With everyone behind their own closed doors, friendships suffered. Networking events ended. Fundraisers went virtual. My wife and I found some friends who were willing to let us into their bubble and get together outside or in limited capacity restaurants in the fall. This was HUGE for exiting isolation for a couple hours here and there and laughing/commiserating with friends–especially because we became empty nesters this year.
Personal growth
      8.  Coaching. Since I’m a coach, and I believe everyone needs a coach to maximize their potential, I re-upped having a coach, too. I chose the coach who got me started in the business back in 2011, and utilized him as a sounding board all year every other week.
      9.  Podcasts vs. audio books. I went back and forth throughout the year on these 2 ways to learn through earphones. Podcasts give me short burst of ideas and inspiration and keep me current, while I can go deeper on a topic by listening to an audio book. I discovered Mid-Columbia Library’s Libby app for renting audio books for free, as well as utilizing my one credit per month on Audible.
      10. Certifications. With no in-person conferences this year–where I normally light up my creativity–I had to find another way to obtain skills to be more of a help to my clients and prospective clients. I chose to get 2 certifications virtually: Extended DISC (behavioral style) and Emotional Intelligence Quotient. Now I can offer the assessment and the debrief to an individual client or a team going (growing) forward–2 more tools in my facilitator toolbelt.
Business leadership
      11. Outsourcing. One of the key ways I know I must do to scale my business as a solopreneur is to build a team, and it starts with outsourcing to contractors who are way better at their craft than I am on that aspect of my business. Instead of sloshing through tasks that take me twice as long, I continue to find contractors to relieve some of my load.
      12. Office re-organization. Knowing I was “stuck at home” for an undetermined period of time, in late March I decided to move the layout of my office to create more space to spread out–and for a better background for Zoom calls (though it’s fun to put virtual backgrounds of past vacations behind me). What a difference! Everything is more accessible! I also ended having a rented office across town, and utilized FUSE (a local co-working space) for whenever I needed a conference room.
      13. Thriving While Teleworking. Responding to the need in the community, I got a lot of “mileage” from developing this seminar in early April, using it for big and small organizations, helping people be healthy as they began their tele-working “new normal”. I added humor and tried to show how much I cared about them being successful at home.
      14. Quarterly planning. With everything seeming to be changing so quickly, I decided to add quarterly planning retreats to my calendar in July and October, booking a room in a local hotel, and spending time recapping the highlights of the last quarter, and goal-setting what I could actually accomplish in the next 90 days. I will definitely keep this new habit, adding it to my daily, weekly, monthly and annual review/previews.
      15. Thematic goal for the new year. Each year I pick a word or phrase to be my theme for the upcoming year–something visionary and compelling that draws me into it, all year long. After reflecting on what went well and what I struggled with in 2020, I chose a theme for 2021 to specifically go after that.  Then I made 3 objectives under which to set action items/next steps to keep chipping away at throughout the year. A friend told me about Notion, an app for tracking goals–so I’m trying it.
And finally,
      16. Grocery-delivery. At the beginning and end of the COVID year, we utilized grocery delivery, which saved both shopping time and germs from encroaching on our lives. So convenient to having it dropped at the door!
      17. Date nights. We are officially empty nesters, with my daughter graduating virtually in 2020. Whoo-hoo! However, I still love my young adult kiddos and decided to do date nights with them, like I do with Laura, every 10 days or so–even if it’s just takeout food and playing a game.
      18. Being generous. I fully embraced the non-profit moves to online fundraisers, participating in as many silent auctions as possible. I feel everyone wins with an auction: the donor of the item, me (the purchaser of the item), and the non-profit. Got some fun stuff, too. This I added in addition to giving regularly to my church and a handful of other non-profits in town.
Hope those were at least interesting, if nothing else, to read through–and that you saw where you, too, tried new things to either cope or thrive when so many fun things were off-limits. Let’s dialogue about yours. I can be reached at growingforward@paulcasey.org     Happy New Year! Time to turn the corner!
When You Have Nothing to Pour Out: A Leader’s Inner Health

When You Have Nothing to Pour Out: A Leader’s Inner Health

If things are not going well with you, begin your effort at correcting the situation by carefully examining the service you are rendering, and especially the spirit in which you are rendering it.”  –Roger Babson

The longer the corona-lockdowns continue, the more I hear of people’s mental/emotional health taking a beating. Have you felt like you just didn’t have what it takes to start another day, or begin work on another project, or sign on to another virtual meeting? In addition, many are lacking the vision of something to look forward to each week. Let’s first do a quick self-check to see if your mental/emotional gas tank is on E for empty.

Most of us see the writing on the wall; we just assume it’s addressed to someone else.” –Ivern Ball

Are you:

  • Frequently tired?
  • Frequently irritable or angry?
  • Experiencing loss of joy in your job and/or life in general?
  • In the middle of ongoing relational strife that hurts you deeply?
  • Suffering from declining health; recurrent health problems?
  • Not finding time to renew/relax/refresh—no separation from work and home and me-time?
  • Struggling with an external/internal problem not dealt with, that begins to consume you?
  • Feeling distant from God/your spiritual Center?
  • Overall feeling off-track or drifting through life?

If so, it’s time to Fill ‘er Up!

Visit the gas station: Take some time away, in solitude, to figure out where you are, where you want to be, and goal-set for how to get there (or utilize a list of questions from a life-coach to help you get some of that clarity).

Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” –George Washington Carver

Here are some questions for your self-reflection once you are away from your typical routine. Begin by Starting to  journal.

Before it can be solved, a problem must be clearly stated and identified.” –William Feather

  1. What is draining my tank? This identifies how the stimuli is affecting how God wired you.
  2. What’s my negative self-talk? This identifies how you are allowing arrows of discouragement to implode you.

We cannot act in a manner that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves.” –John Maxwell

Every thought we think is creating our future.” –Louise Hay

  1. What bad habit am I allowing to fester?  This identifies what is clogging the pipes in your relationships and flow of energy.  “Little faults can ruin a person just as little holes can ruin a tire.”    Blast before you build.
  2. What boundaries am I allowing to be violated? This identifies where you are taking on ownership of someone else’s problem—and getting trampled by it.  Anger is a sign of this.
  3. Has self-care been neglected? In which areas? This identifies where you are self-destructing by not feeding yourself the nutrients of life.   Stress management, nutrition, rest, exercise, preventative health exams, etc.  Downtime is not wasted time!
  4. What am I doing to refresh/renew self? This identifies how well you are balanced, your bounce-back quotient.

Life is not about how fast you run, or how you climb, but how well you bounce.”

       7. Do I have a dose of beauty and laughter in my life? This identifies how drab or vibrant your life has become.

You don’t stop laughing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop laughing.” –Michael Pritchard

Then, Build an interdependent support system of key people/life-givers:

    1. Spouse (Freshen up your marriage!)
    2. Friends (Ask for accountability)
    3. Mentor (someone further down the road from you)
    4. Counselor/coach (to get you unstuck)

A true friend is someone who can get us to do what we can.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Difficult times always create opportunities for you to experience more love in your life.” –Barbara DeAngelis

Then, on an ongoing basis: Take one day at a time; live in the present.

    1. Free up from the past (Forgive and ask for forgiveness).

Time heals all wounds unless you pick at them.” –Shawn Alexander

2. Don’t worry/live in fear about the future.

Where your head goes, your body follows.”

3. Seize the day! Deal with it!  Launch it!  Pursue it!

Just for today I will be happy. Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once.” –Sybyl Partridge

The beginning is always today.”  –Mary Shelley

Prepare your mind to receive the best that life has to offer.”  –Ernest Holmes

Then, Receive AROMA therapy:  Ask for it from your spouse and support system, or fill your life with it yourself.

    1. Affection (touch)
    2. Respect (Don’t allow yourself to be disrespected)
    3. Order (De-clutter/simplify life, work/home spaces, and mind)
    4. Merriment (Have fun, see humor in things, treat yourself)
    5. Affirmation (Self-affirmations are all you can control)

Day to day, Cease complaining and up your gratefulness quotient.

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” –Charles Dickens   You can either complain that rose bushes have thorns—or rejoice that thorn bushes have roses.

Triple-A Formula for Happiness:

  • Accept the moment.
  • Appreciate it.
  • Adapt to its opportunities.

If you haven’t yet, Start a wellness regimen.

The groundwork of all happiness is health.” –Leigh Hunt

  1. Begin exercising daily.  Find a way to move; don’t give up.

2. Start making healthy choices in eating/drinking.

3  Get plenty of rest (both sleep and other downtime)

4. Find ways (besides 1-3) to decompress: hobby, lessons, energizing activity, chatting with a friend, solitude/silence

 To stay chipper, Do something in your passion every day/week. Make a huge list of things you love; it’s a menu to pick from.

From the choices in this blog, Build new habits and protect them with boundaries. You must build momentum. What must you say NO to, in order to stay YES to these priorities?

The secret of success is what you do daily.”  –Maxwell

Without consistency, there is no moral strength.”   Mentally prepare for the day.

Now, what will you do first?

No matter how big and tough a problem may be, get rid of confusion by taking one little step toward solution.  Do something. Then try again.” –George Nordenholt

If you haven’t picked up a copy of my first book The Static Cling Principle, make it your first read of the new year. It’s about what habits to pull off your life that are draining your gas tank, and which ones you need to stick onto your life to fill you up. Jump over to www.paulcasey.org

How to Plan Fantastic Fridays

How to Plan Fantastic Fridays

If you are like most workers, you look forward to Fridays. Some people have chosen to intentionally set aside Fridays for one big activity every week, to close out the week strong. Consider one of these “themes” for your Fridays as we enter a new year.

  • Finish It Fridays: Got lots of tabs open on your computer? You know, those things you said you’d come back to later and wrap up.  Got emails needing some deeper thought before you respond? What about half-completed to-do list items or post-its gone wild around your desk? Use Friday as a finisher to get things officially crossed off your lists.
  • Forward-looking Fridays: With potentially fewer emails come in from co-workers, this might be the time to block out an hour or two each week to preview your next week and two or three weeks beyond that. You are looking for what preparation is needed prior to appointments or meetings or deadlines so that you can get prep time onto your calendar next week. Sometimes this is a good habit to do with your team or assistant.
  • Follow-up Fridays: If you are in a business that is always on the lookout for new customers, use Fridays to prospect those leads that you met or were referred to during the past week. Call or email those contacts, reminding them of when you met, and seeing if you can be of service to them. Or, this them could entail responding to clients or co-workers who needed one item from you during your weekly meeting so that they can move forward with you.
  • Favorites Fridays: After you have surveyed your team for what they enjoy most, recognize them more thoughtfully by buying them something to make their day. Favorite coffee drink, snack, flower, office supply–lots of options here.
  • Face-it Fridays: Put one big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) on the last day of the workweek, and move the needle on it. No more procrastination. You can’t do anything else until you Eat That Frog! Ah, the weekend already seems lighter.
  • Face-time Fridays: Tell your team that you have open office hours during a block on Friday for them to touch-base with you about any concerns or ideas they might have. Or use Friday to go on the road and bring a gift to your top customers to show appreciation for doing business with you.

That was fun to brainstorm! Do you have another positive F-verb that could become a Friday theme? Let me know your thoughts at growingforward@paulcasey.org. And, speaking of Forward-looking Fridays, I have a new free tool to share with you: it’s a quick tips sheet on Crafting, casting, and carrying a compelling vision. Just text Beyond to 72000, and we’ll get it to you. Vision time!

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