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 firstname.lastname@example.org
One of my “official” strengths when taking the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment is being a Learner. Yes, I’ll own that. I’m insatiable when it comes to learning, especially in the areas of leadership and self-leadership. I’ve got a hardbound book going, a book on CD going in the car, podcasts and audio books going while exercising at the gym, webinars from my industry to listen to, a coach, idea-people with whom to be creative, and reviews of my journal and archived articles sent to me. Whew! But it’s what I look forward to. No one has to prod me to learn.
(For some of the books I read in 2020 that I recommend, click here.)
Let’s go deeper into what makes for a true learner. Which of these do you nod your head with?
- You understand that life is a marathon, the long-game, with lots to experience along the way.
- You are aware that there is so much more to learn.
- You aren’t satisfied with the status quo; there’s always a better way to try.
- You know someone is more of an expert on every topic than you are, and you must find that person.
- You consume dozens of books, blogs, articles, and podcasts every year.
- You have been told you are a good listener, because you see everyone as a resource for learning.
- You have been told, “That’s a great question!” when you are curious while helping others process their issues.
- You are not afraid to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” instead of trying to bluff your way through an answer.
- You are more of an expert on a few things and generally-knowledgeable on many things.
- You are a student of life itself, especially what leads to a successful life and relationships.
Out of those 10, how many are “definitely you”? If you have the majority in the affirmative, you’re a learner, too. And, what a gift! Here’s my challenge to you: Start turning more of those inputs into more outputs. In other words, as you learn, find a way to be a conduit of the information and flow it to those who might be interested in what you’ve gleaned. Remember, most people don’t want unsolicited advice; so, be cautious that you only share with hungry minds who appear interested in your message.
Learners, unite! Be a GFF (Growing Forward Friend) and stick around in my community of learners. My membership community (Bull’s Eye) is coming this spring. But for now, stay connected via my social media channels: Instagram LinkedIn. Facebook
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:
- Having a clear picture of where you want to go
- Being realistic and taking responsibility for where you are now
- 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.
Founder – Release Your Unconscious
“Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders Today”
To be on the “top of your game” every day, you must have your thought patterns in the right place. Your thoughts turn into feelings with turn into actions and then into your results.
What kind of mindset could you adopt, to better assure this will be a successful Monday (or any day!)?
- I will not take myself so seriously. It’s OK to make mistakes; don’t put so much pressure on yourself as to be overwhelmed or in a negative space mentally/emotionally. Say, “This is temporary; there’s light at the end of this tunnel.”
- I will take a break when I start to feel my energy dip. “Put yourself in time-out.” You reach points of diminishing returns when you insist on pushing through and being productive when you are on empty.
- I will stay on top of my goals/priorities. Go into another week/day feeling clear on “the plan” of what you want to accomplish. Make a short list of priorities. Clean off your desk and close your computer tabs, except for materials/resources you will need that relate to those priorities. Don’t waste time; begin ready for the day and focus!
- I will not letting my feelings control/define me. Adopt as much of a relaxed/at peace mindset as possible, knowing that you have the ability to take things as they come. Worry is destructive and gets you nowhere fast.
- I will choose to be positive and solution-oriented. Assuming good intentions of your family and colleagues puts you in a posture of curiosity and positivity. Choose happiness over the alternatives. You are not a victim and “everything is figure-out-able.”
- I will not let fear take me down. Even if you have moments of impostor syndrome, you have a reservoir of confidence to tap into, based on your experience and wisdom. Self-talk: “I’m ready to take this on!” and “I’m making a difference!”
- I will be proactive vs. reactive. If it’s a task, show initiative and go after it, asking for help along the way. Don’t wait for a fire to be lit around you before you step up. Speak out a creative possibility. Have the difficult conversation before things get worse. Maintain an action mindset.
- I will do something today to keep growing forward. Make time today and every day to learn, whether it be listening to a podcast while getting ready for work or while working out, carving out time to watch an inspirational video, or picking out a self-leadership book (or technical resource) to dive into. Be a little better today than you were yesterday.
- I will have faith and hope that things will get better. This anticipation of brighter days pulls you forward into another day/week. A loss of hope leads to depression, which mires you in a pit of despair. Find things to look forward to: hobbies, trips, appointments with people that inspire you, conversations with God, etc.
- I will put myself in others’ shoes. Everyone experiences hardship in their lives. You have no idea what they are going through. Assume they need encouragement and support—and give it liberally. Empathize with their situation and give grace. When you see things from others’ perspective, it softens yours; together, you might just collaborate to a win-win solution for both of you.
These 10 mindset motivators could be printed up and put on your dashboard, monitor, office door, or journal. Speak them into your life daily to set your intentions for the day. Brighter week ahead!
Want to chat about how coaching might lessen your stress and increase your peace of mind and productivity? Let’s see if the time is right for you. I’m at email@example.com
We’ve all lost our keys or wallet or sunglasses a time or two, and we’ve either found them or replaced them. However, there are less tangible things that absolutely must not be lost because of the negative consequences to living the best version of yourself AND the necessity of making the contribution you must make to the world.
Don’t lose your:
- Hope. This is many of my clients’ one-word theme for 2021. You have to have hope to cope…with change, with disruption, with sudden left turns, with bad news. Hope isn’t blind optimism, but its element of reality plus the thinking that something good can come out of anything, is one of the best ways to build the character quality of resilience.
- Cool. When our values get poked, we tend to react–and then regret how immaturely we behaved during our rant (and that’s if we are self-aware!). Make it a goal this year to be “difficult to offend”. As the Chinese proverb goes, “If it’s within your control, why be angry? And if it’s not within your control, why be angry.” Let ti roll off or address it with composure.
- Faith. Many people grew up with some sort of faith experience in their homes, and some have decided it doesn’t serve them for some reason or another. That departure often creates a hole in one’s spirit. Faith in God, for me, springs from a gratefulness of what He’s done for me before and throughout my life and it’s is the foundation for any virtue that I want to express to the world.
- Confidence. As I’m reading the book Presence by Amy Cuddy and studying the concept of executive presence in order to help the leaders I coach, I keep seeing how being your most authentic self leads to your self-confidence. The fear of entering whatever arena where you are hedging can be alleviated by reminding yourself how your motive is to add value to this situation and then doing your very best.
- Vision. Drifting occurs when you lose your vision on the target: you get lethargic toward growth and development actions because you have forgotten your big WHY, or motive. Take the time in solitude to get re-acquainted to the compelling snapshot of the future toward which you want to go, in the various roles you play in your life. Write it down, post it, and goal-set off it.
- Family. One of my clients said the quote the other day: “On your last day at this job, you will still have a full email in-box.” The to-do list never gets fully done; you never get fully caught-up. So, is it worth losing the daily moments with those you love the most, to do that one more task? There are glass balls (most important relationships) and rubber balls (less important tasks) on your plate; when the glass ones fall off, they break–and that damage is great. Let the rubber ones bounce back to your list tomorrow.
- Self. Especially if you have some “pleaser” tendencies, you are tempted to live someone else’s script for your life. Always meeting someone else’s needs to the detriment of forsaking your own needs leads to emptiness. In the book Give and Take by Adam Grant, he shows the healthiest, most influential people are not the pure Givers (nor obviously the pure Takers), but those who give out of a full tank. Self-care and reconnection to your personal mission and vision are huge to avoid burnout, and better boundaries will empower your service to what matters most.
- Focus. We all have a little attention deficit disorder in us, especially when we don’t really want to do our most important tasks/priorities. It’s so easy to “squirrel” to what’s shinier or easier. But, like a laser beam, focused energy can cut through the most difficult materials. You truly can make headway on your toughest tasks by blocking out time to do it, obeying your calendar when that time comes, removing distractions, and doing the deep work until crossing it off your list.
Which one needs deeper thought for you? Which one is your greatest temptation? You can’t tame what you can’t name. If you need a coach to help you process where you at right now in your life, ping me with an email to chat. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org Time to get back on track!
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
- 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 email@example.com or at Growing Forward Services on Facebook.