Paying Attention …


Who Are You - Presenter MediaNot a new thought, but valuable enough to bear consistent repeating…

FIRST QUESTION:  What and Who Do You Pay Attention To?

Think about those things and people who capture your interest or demand your energy.  Consider what is happening to your time and energy every day, over a week, and through the seasons.

Sometimes we have no choice, but to pay attention to something.  Our work may require this of us, and we cannot choose not to pay attention without risking significant job actions.  Of course, sometimes we talk ourselves into thinking that we “have to” focus on some work-related issue, when no particular evidence other than our own thinking supports this.

Other times, when we are honest, we choose the level and quality of our focus in an area and on a person.   We probably have much more freedom to change in these instances than we might think. 

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: How Does What You Pay Attention To Help You?

Here are some common topics under which activities and individuals can be grouped.  Please note that in some cases, we pay attention to a person because of a goal or the reverse.  In those cases, consider the tangible value that derives from your investment of time and energy in that person or activity.

Please add any other major areas not included below to your Focus list.

FINANCIAL:  You focus on making and using money through earnings, investments, and the acquisition of valuable things.

CAREER:  You concentrate on building professional experiences and reputation in a workplace environment.  Titles and authority are important to you.

FAMILY:  You nurture familial relationships with children, parents, cousins, and other relatives, along with people you feel close to.

EMOTIONAL:  Your concern is primarily about how you feel about others and events, with a goal of healthy interactions and emotional stability.

STRUCTURAL: You work to develop a pleasant and safe environment for yourself and your loved ones.

Also remember that items on your list may overlap with more than one topic.  

For example, I used to run 4-5 miles per day and often started my weekend with a race at some local event.  As my children grew, I began to enter them in the short races which often accompanied my longer races, producing both health benefits and shared relationships with my children.

ANOTHER QUESTION:   How Well Does What Is On Your Focus List Align With What You Really Value?

This is the most important step and the hardest for most of us to do, since it involves really getting clear about what we want out of life.

I would say this is the place where you need some objective help.  You alone know best what you concentrate on doing or thinking , as well as what you truly value.  

However, a professionally prepared helper can make the process of determining the fit between what you do and what you want much easier than when you slog through the process alone.   There’s a reason why professional coaches are coming into the public eye more frequently.

FINAL QUESTION (Two-Parter):  1)  What Are You Going To Reduce Or Stop Doing, and 2) What Are You Going To Start Or Increase Doing?

Well, you knew I had to ask this one, right?

Not much point consider your current state of focus, unless you also create specific plans with measurable milestones and clear goals to change your focus where it does not align with your values or goals.  

These plans should include something like a “Stop or Reduce” list and a “Start or Increase” list of actions to help you devote more of your focus, and your energy, to the things which matter most.

Having lots of fun asking some very useful questions in the Heartland ….

John

 

Image :  Presenter Media

Doing X Well and Failing …


Thumbs Up - Morguefile.com.pngI have often been complimented on how well I do X….

Being complimented makes me feel good … appreciated, valued, competent, and so forth.  This makes me do X more and better, because I like the praise and attention that comes my way.

 I often receive requests (or sometimes demands) from other people to do X for them.How I do X is shared and talked about at gatherings.   I become known to many as “The X Guy” or even, unfortunately, “The X Meister“.  People tell me how dependent they are on me doing that X thing regularly for them.

My fame for doing X well spreads far and wide, resulting in fascinating opportunities and offers to do X for someone else who will pay me more and shower me with glittery incentives … all just to do X.

Problem is that I do not particularly enjoy doing X … I like the praise, but not the process to earn the praise.

Continue reading

Run, Run, Run … Or Not


Hamster Wheel and Quote.png

But then, you already knew that, didn’t you?

We are officially past Monday now, so your workweek should be either shuffling or crashing along, depending on your work situation.   Now you can spend a few minutes considering things like speed, direction, and progress.

Yes, I am talking about considering the amount of time you are spending, the focus of your efforts, and the quality of your content.  Here are some quick diagnostic questions to ask yourself and answer honestly, thenadjust as needed based on that honest answer:

ARE YOU AVOIDING OR CREATING?

I am very busy.  You are probably very busy too.  This seems the default position for most of us these days.

Consider what comes of all your busy efforts.   In my case, if I have written an acceptable blog post, drafted a valid coaching program, designed a useful job aid or poster, made or strengthened an important connection with another human being, I feel like I am creating.

When I finish 10 quick rounds of PANDA POP, not so much. Continue reading

Asking “Why?” …


Snow FLowerChip Bell regularly stimulates my leadership and management thinking … as he did recently with an amusing, but thought-provoking post over at the Lead Change Group, cleverly titled “Don’t Be A Leader of Stupid Rules, which ranks as one of my favorite blog post titles of 2016 so far.  

Chip’s post addresses the all too familiar tendency in the workplace to have rules and processes which everyone follows, but few know why.

Here’s my response to Chip’s post, with a little editing for clarity and expanded reflection:

 

I was once responsible for helping employees install a standardized organizational system for both paper and electronic workflow in an organization.  As part of that, I would spend much time working with individual employees as they literally took their workspace apart, organized all items into standardized categories and reorganized how they stored data and materials.

Analyzing work processes was a big part of this changeover.   One time,  an employee struggled with what to label a work step in which she received forms from another employee and in turn, gave them to a third employee, without doing anything to the forms, such as verifying or sorting.  After much discussion, we were unable to determine why she needed to do this step, other than that familiar “I was told this was part of my job and I’ve always done it this way” statement.

Similarly to Chip’s story about Catherine The Great and the flower , I finally learned from a long-time employee that decades earlier, two women who did not like each other each had responsibility for a step in this work process.  Since they could not get along, their manager chose to assign a third employee to receive and pass on the documents.

Over the years, just like the soldiers guarding the empty spot, generations of employees were taught to follow this  “system” without any awareness of why that step existed.

Two lessons here for me: 

1)  MANAGERS CREATE PROBLEMS WHEN THEY ARE RELUCTANT TO ADDRESS PROBLEM …

This is first and foremost a failure of management.  The original manager had the authority and the opportunity to directly address the issue.

Had that original manager addressed the workplace impact of  both employee’s behavior with them, and either directed or coached the employees to work together without affecting workflow, this story would not be mine to tell to illustrate poor management practice.

2) EMPLOYEES OFTEN FOLLOW DIRECTIONS WITHOUT QUESTIONING WHY THEY SHOULD DO SO …

Sometimes leaders overestimate their impact and sometimes they underestimate it.  Many employees, especially those new to a process, a workgroup, or an organization, will simply accept whatever they perceive as “the way we do it”.   In order to fit in, they then attempt to master doing whatever it is that the system requires them to do, with little reflection on why they are doing it

Fortunately, this is changing in the modern workplace, due to the efforts of a few thoughtful and forward-thinking souls.  A valuable employee is now more often seen as the one who will say “Wait … why are we doing this?” and expect a reasonable answer.   They will comply when to do so makes sense, but will question when motivations and reasons are not clear. 

Ira Chaleff is one of the most valuable and articulate voices driving this welcome workplace and societal trend.  For a great deal more about “FOLLOWERSHIP, click the link to read my previous post on this topic. 

Related Observation:  A GOOD MANAGER KNOWS WHEN TO ASK “WHY”  …

As an operations officer (think Chief Training Officer) in the US Army Reserve, I learned quickly that simply walking up to a tank idling in the wilderness and asking the crew “What are you doing?” as innocently as possible was a good thing.

Listening to the responses to this simple query would provide me with a wealth of insight into their morale, how the training was going, and whether they understood their roles and responsibilities within the context of our mission.

Pretty good return for a simple question …

Chip’s post is a good reminder of how we need to continually analyze what we are doing, why we are doing it, and whether we should stop or change doing it:)

Trying to remember to follow my own advice in the Heartland ….

John

“Purpose Junkies” …


Age and Life - Leider - Morguefile.com.png

Thoughts around my continuing exploration of the dual themes of our life purpose and positive aging …

I was struck by this quotation from The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better by Richard Leider.  Okay, honestly speaking, I am struck by something on almost every page of this excellent little book.

I suppose one can say that some of us are Purpose Junkies, people who are on a continual quest for our meaning in life and trying to discern what we should do.  

Some say that this is navel-gazing taken to the extreme, while others dismiss our attempts to discover self by pointing out that we need to “get out into the real world, where things are dirty and brutal.  Just get a job and do it until you have enough money to not have to do it any more … Quit your whining” or similar.

IF ONLY I WON …

Continue reading