Well, yesterday was our second of five training sessions and I arrived home as energized and jazzed as I was last week. I am totally smitten with the program attendees (in a purely professional way, of course). I love their enthusiasm, candor, willingness to challenge me and question each other. I am fueled by our shared laughter, engagement and commitment. We’ve got some great mojo working and I’m with them every step of the way. My hunch is that I’ll be with them even when our time together officially ends, for we are becoming invested in the relationships we’re building.
As I was driving home, some of our discussions replayed in my head (along with a series of Motown songs which had absolutely nothing to do with what I was thinking about). I often say that we don’t realize how we are perceived by others – sometimes because we don’t want to know or don’t think it’s important to know. Other times we don’t have an audience that is prepared to tell us. So I’ll ask you – how good are you? And at what?
– When was the last time you wrote a genuine, challenging goal – for yourself or in concert with one of your employees? Do you really know how to write one? I’m not talking about the over-used, over-touted SMART goal paradigm. I’m talking about the one that comes from your gut and your imagination – reflective of the knowledge of where you’re heading, where your department should be going and what has to be done once you get there. (Hint – ‘scorch and burn’ is not a goal, though you get one point for using verbs that have some activity associated with them)
– What are you doing to prepare your right-hand person for a promotion, how much have you increased his/her visibility to the powers-that-be? What has that person done for their critical second? Do you have a succession plan in your head and what does it look like? If you’re going to re-organize, does your plan include a concrete intent to re-tool the resources you already have?
– What have you learned from history that bears repeating? What do you wish you had never attempted because it failed so miserably (you get serious points for taking the risk)?
– Is your department terrific because it churns out work? Is that your definition of ‘terrific’? Does it also energize and re-energize itself, share accountability, reflect pride of ownership with strong cross-training opportunities? What have you done to form a team as opposed to a group of people who just happen to work in the same area and for the most part, get along?
– When was the last time you wrote a truly comprehensive, honest performance review which contained no surprises for the recipient – and shared it with the employee? When was the last time you were able to get a straight, candid response from your people about how you’re doing? Is that information important to you really?
You can ask yourself these questions with little modification within the context of your personal life as well. What goals are you setting for yourself? How do you want to ride this carousel – remember, you get only one ticket (unless you’re a cat, in which case rumor has it, you get nine). What steps are you taking to focus on the little wonders that happen around us everyday? I know, I know – this sounds trite and worthy of a good eye-rolling – but have you looked around lately? Our magnolia blooms are resting their heads against the breeze; just the other day a hawk stood poised and still on the roof of our gazebo looking as if it was waiting to have its portrait painted. My son wrapped me up in one of those mega-hugs that provide a transfusion of love that left me in tears (yes, I’m an easy cry – I’ve told you that already). Two barn owls have returned for the season and fill the evening air with their hooting and I hoot right back (a ridiculous exercise, but I’m trying to relate on their terms).
I was looking at pictures of my mom and dad when they were young – wow, they were a gorgeous pair. I miss them daily; I ache to hear my dad call me ‘sweetheart’ or mom saying ‘hi schatzi’. It’s more acute around the holidays, as I make the same meals that my mother did, served with some of the same tableware we had when I was a kid. Am I making sure that I notice life?? Are you? What am I doing to ensure that I live in gratitude and greater humility? Did I laugh enough today? What’s my plan to sustain my energy for this ride and could I do more to make sure I honor this time I’ve been given? How often do I say “I love you” or “You made my day” – how often did I feel like I couldn’t care one way or the other? What are your responses when you ask these questions of yourself?
So – how’d you do? If you had the courage to pose the questions, you’re already ahead of the game. If you have the conviction to re-visit the answers that you may like to change, you’re really good. And the mere fact that you read this all the way through and maybe gave it a little thought – well, that makes you terrific in my eyes. Happy Friday all and Happy Holidays to those who have traditions and beliefs that are honored this weekend.