Monday, September 23, 2013

The Best Thing About Fall For Leaders

Every fall, I write a throwaway post about my favorite season of every year. This year will be different. I'd like to challenge leaders to use the fall and change of season as a catalyst to end 2013 on a high note.

When you think about fall, it can be an elusive season in comparison to others. Look around you now, the holiday season is subtly creeping in on us and no one will be surprised when it lands. We all long for spring after winter, especially those of us who live in areas where winter plays out with major weather shifts and sunshine deprivation (Yes, Chicago - I'm calling you out).  Summer is loved, enjoyed and lamented as it winds down and winter starts smack in the middle of the holidays as we close each year.  Fall, if not intentionally managed can be a squandered treasure each year.

Fall is the season that makes or breaks your year each year. 

It is that serious and I want leaders to look at 3 quick reasons why:

Your Final Shot At This Year's Goals

Fall is the last season of the year where you can tangibly impact your goals. With holidays around the corner and the tendency for most individuals and companies to slow down and take time off as the year closes, every week in September , October and early November is critical for a leader to impact how their year ends. Review, reflect and re-tool those goals and make sure you are doing activity to help you reach as many as you possibly can.

Preparation Time For The Next Year

Fall is also the best time to prepare for the coming year. Most organizations are budgeting for the coming year during this time so it is a great way to get a jump on activity for the new year that is less than 100 days away. You can position your team and yourself as key components for success in the year to come by pro-actively scouting and pitching opportunities in the fall. You will most certainly want to do this so you can participate in the final reason.

Making Yourself Available For Year End Respite

As the year closes and holidays set it, you should make yourself and your team ready to take advantage of this natural order slow down. Do the heavy lifting now, in the fall so that you will be able to better enjoy time away from work when others in your life also have that time available during the holiday season. Every good leader takes a break to renew and recharge. Great leaders do so with the peace of mind that they have put in the extra effort at the right times. Fall is the right time for that effort.

So if you are like me and you enjoy the fall for the crisp weather, candy corn and fashion shift - now you have some new and more productive reasons to look forward to fall each year.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Are You All In?

Are you all in?

Yeah, you! And yes, I'm asking you point blank.

Are you all in with your own needs, wants and desires? Have you identified those needs/wants/desires? Are you making progress toward the things that are most important to you? Are you taking responsibility for your time? Your behavior? Your priorities?

Are you "all in" in your relationships? Are you being honest with those folks you choose to do life with? Are you letting yourself be known? Are you allowing yourself to love fully? Are you engaged with the people you encounter on a daily basis? Do you let your partner/spouse/kids/parents/siblings see you for who you really are?

Are you "all in" in your community? How are you helping to make your environment better? What are you doing to contribute to the well being of your neighborhood? Do you know people you live near? Are you leveraging your own talents/resources/contacts to make life better where you live?

Are you "all in" at work? Do you bring your best self to your job every day? Do you understand the goals and objectives your workplace is trying to achieve? Have you asked? Are you engaged with your co-workers?Are you using your best talents every day?

I know that was brutal. Too many questions, not many answers but that was the point. You own your life. Too many times in the last few weeks, I've spoken with people who are not happy, have no direction and are flailing toward nothingness. They are lonely although they are doing life with many people. They are unfulfilled although they appear to have it all. They ask me "how I do it?" Well this post is the answer.

I hammer myself with all the above questions, constantly. I am never satisfied with less than positive answers. If I find during my internal "interrogation" that I am down or not very content with an answer, then I go on a quest to change it. I enlist people who love me to help. I keep pressing forward until I am at peace with what is coming back to me. I leave it all on the field - every day of every month of every year. I am "all in" in this one life I have to live.

Are you?

Monday, September 9, 2013

I Love Having Options! Do You?

Heading into the final quarter of 2013, Relationships Matter Now, LLC has a little momentum! We have  several pending government projects in competition and at least 1/2 dozen opportunities with major corporations in the early stages of development. In two months, we expand our parks and recreation work to another Midwestern state. I am writing the final part of my fiction novel debut and already have the promotional marketing copy for the book ready to go. And, I have an opportunity for a larger assignment with a current client as well.

That all sounds well and good on paper but the reality is, I need to make some tough choices heading into this final quarter of 2013. You see, my tiny but mighty company can only do so much. We want to continue to deliver the delightful experiences that our partners have become accustomed to while growing to serve even more people. Knowing that, I am faced with some big decisions to close out this year.

Luckily,  my relationship with choices and decision making is sound. Normally a commitment phobe and hater of closing out options, I have come to a place where I can critically evaluate while also trusting my gut. I use my heart but take my head along with me. Risk is my friend and calculated risk is my lover.

I love the acts of weighing all the options and laying out scenarios with each option before me - in writing - on paper. My blood rushes as I pour over pieces evidence and fits of emotion to support or debunk each choice. I don't lose sleep over the choices after I make them. I constantly look for ways to optimize the choices versus beat myself up over them. I also have a habit of changing course if the choice I made no longer serves me. Ultimately, making choices is part of life and how you approach this act can determine the quality of life you have.

Today, I challenge you to look closely at the way you make choices and look for opportunities to improve your choice making skills. We are all faced with choices, sometimes constantly. Having a method and process for how you make them can make a big difference for us and the people we do life with.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My Favorite Part of Parenting

Cast from the cult classic The Breakfast Club
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to introduce my kids to one of my all-time favorite movies, The Breakfast Club. This was not the first time I'd introduced them to movies or media I loved, last year I started the #MomsClassicMovies series which has included, Say Anything, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Wayne's World and Clueless, to name a few.

However, this time was very different than all the previous installations of #MomsClassicMovies. My 12 year old girl and 8 year old boy wanted to discuss the movie - for 90 plus minutes. And discuss we did. While I jokingly complained that this discussion took us deep into the wee hours of the night one Saturday, I loved every moment of it. Sharing things or ideas that mean a lot to me with my two kids is my favorite part of parenting.

Watching them make discovery of concepts and truths while questioning and probing my brain for guidance is my favorite past time. The ability to share my perspective while listening and receiving theirs is priceless. I had many parents ask me why I thought it was OK to allow my kids to watch this movie, at this time. One mom asked, "How did you handle the circle conversation?"

You know the one scene deep into the film where the Jock, the Brain, the Basketcase, the Princess and the Criminal have an explicit talk about sexual experiences among other topics. It was not a big issue at all because I've been pro-active to discuss all types of topics with my children before now. In fact, I know that kids today are exposed to much more than we think no matter how much we protect them. I'd much rather have the discussion we had a few weeks back prompted by my sharing one of my favorite movies with them than any other way. Believe me, those discussion are happening with our kids, the question is are we part of them.

I'm not leaving it chance. We're the parents who allowed our kids to watch NBC's The Office and Parks and Recreation with us. The humorous and off kilter nature of those shows have made it easier to have discussions with our kids that otherwise may not occur. And again, I count all these discussions and moments of engagement with my children as my favorite part of parenting.

What is your favorite part of parenting?