Perfectionist? No thanks! Averagist for me…

Staring at the ceiling, I contemplated what my next move should be. A thousand thoughts went through my head as I argued with myself over a career move that I was reasonably certain was an impossibility. 12:00am, 1:00am, 3:30am…same conversation playing in my head.

Earlier that day, I had a conversation with someone who told me about an opportunity at another employer. I hadn’t thought much about it at the time. After all, I was only 33 and this job had a list of requirements that I didn’t think I met. I usually go with my gut on matters like this, but my gut wasn’t helping things.

kid therapy

Here’s the problem: All my life, I’ve taken the safe road. There’s a psychological disorder where people will only try things if they are certain that they will be successful. If they think they can’t be, they’ll not try it at all (Full disclosure, I’m not a Psychologist but my sister is and she tells me regularly how screwed up I am); however, I’ve not been officially diagnosed with this.

That said, I know I must have some version of this. (E.g., When I was a kid, I could get a B+ or A- without studying so I didn’t. Why not? b/c if I studied and still only got a B+, that’s a failure.)

Back to the sleepless night. Here are some snippets from the argument going on in my head:

  1. “I’ve never done this before”
  2. “I’m too young”
  3. “I have a good job now and you’ve only been there 1 year”
  4. “This could be a career killer”
  5. “What if this isn’t what I really want to do with my life”
  6. “I don’t have the experience. If this had only come along a year or two down the road…”
  7. “What if I find out that I’m over my head?”

The interesting part about this? All this was BEFORE I EVEN APPLIED for the position!!!

I was reading a post over on Leadership Freak where Dan really made me think about the way I do things. I never realized it before, but I’m apparently a perfectionist. Dan talks about being an “averagist”.

“Averagists,” those who take imperfect steps toward achievable goals, always go further than perfectionists. Each step forward calls for another because you haven’t arrived.”

In a world where we’re taught to play it safe, the challenge is to keep moving towards perfection rather than waiting until you’re sure you’ll get there before you take a step. I want to take imperfect steps towards achievable goals.

I don’t want to be a perfectionist!

I, gulp, WANT TO FAIL…forward. We don’t learn from success, we learn from failure.

Btw, I’ve been doing the job over a year and am loving every minute of it…

There is no try?

ImageYoda was wrong!

Hold on…before you dismiss this as heresy, hear me out.

“Do or not do. There is no try,” is, of course, the line I’m talking about. While I get the line, I don’t buy it.

Try. That’s a tough thing to do. Generally, if you’re like me, you like to think, think, think, think, build, present to the world. The problem with that reasoning is that we get too vested in the outcome or our ‘build’ that we make it hard for people to tell us what needs to be improved.

No one wants to tell you that your baby is ugly. Continue reading

PANIC!!!

20130524-090451.jpg

That’s what I just experienced. I’ve had my iPad for exactly 1 week. I love my iPad. I need my iPad. I know iPads are expensive so I have mine in a protective hardshell case.

As I’m flipping it open this morning, the case ever so gracefully allows the iPad to slide out and fall onto the ground, bumping the corner of it. I’m not worried…it fell like 12 inches…then I pick it up…

Panic? Maybe that’s not strong enough…

I picked it up, turned it on and…yep, the green screen!

To say that my lizard brain kicked in would be an understatement. I guess that’s what the first cavemen felt when he woke up after falling asleep accidentally and realizing that he let the first fire in history of mankind go out.

So what did I do?

Fortunately, I have access to millions of people in my network, some of whom have experienced this problem before.

I jumped on Google (thank God for Google!!) and found a forum where people were talking about how to solve it.

Collaboration is awesome! A group of people with made up screen names listing out things to try with my $400 goof.

Saying this out loud sounds ridiculous, but in fact, it worked! Collaboration provided an answer I would’ve had no chance at getting even 10-12 years ago.

What was the answer? Smacking the iPad on a hard surface.

Yes. I smacked my 1 week old iPad on a granite counter top on the recommendation of somebody I’ve never met using a made up name giving advice to people they would never meet and had zero responsibility to.

Thanks to LaxMan25, I’m typing this out on my iPad with a clear screen.

How do you use collaboration at work? Do you trust strangers on the internet more than your co-workers? Your boss? The people who work for you?

I hope I trust them at least enough to smack my $400 item on a hard surface if they suggest it…

How’s your vision?

I’m surprised how few people know the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement; however, I’m even more surprised that people don’t have their own, personal vision and mission statement.

If Gen Y can get this right at our age, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish. It focuses us. Can you even imagine how much we can do if we’re focused in an A.D.D. world.

Let’s start the discussion with definitions:

Vision Statement: This simple ONE sentence tells where exactly you want to be.

It’s the WHY behind everything. You should be able to look at that statement and ask yourself the same question anytime you have a decision to make.

“How does this decision move me closer towards that vision?”

Mission Statement: ONE (or possibly 2) sentences that explains the things you do regularly to achieve your mission.

This is the HOW you are going to get there. It involves activities that contribute to the end result you’ve laid out in the vision statement.

Believe it or not, it’s much easier to do this for an organization than it is for an individual…Especially if you’re a Gen-Y. We hate commitment. This sounds an awfully lot like a rule/chain and we’d rather not be tied down.

GOOD NEWS! It’s not a rule, it’s a principle.

Principles guide you in your decisions. No matter where you are in life, you can still use your vision.

Write it out. Maybe think of it as pre-writing your tombstone quote. What do you want people to remember about you? Better yet, what do you want to be? (hint: rich sounds stupid on a tombstone)

I think a great vision is used by my church. It’s simply “To be found faithful as God’s people.” No matter what else, every member of the organization can ask themselves with every decision I make, does this help me to be found faithful as God’s people?

What about you? Do you have a Personal Vision Statement? If not, do you think it could help you understand where you’re going and make decisions along the way?

I do.

Learning to Lead

We are the most educated generation ever. No, I don’t mean we have learned from our experience, necessarily, but that we have the most education…formally…of any other before us. Our parents made it clear that college wasn’t an option for most of us – it was a requirement.

Now, we enter the workforce after a minimum of 16 years in the educational system (many of us close to doubling that with Pre-K and grad school) and if we don’t know how to do anything else, we know how to learn.

That’s a double edged sword.

On one hand, we’ve been in school and learning so long that we are very accustomed to learning regularly both formally and informally thanks to the modern information era. On the other, for the first time in our lives we don’t have a professor who holds our grades in his hand and dangles the threat of a ‘FAIL’ over us to get us moving so we can finally breathe…

Frankly, after seeing Gen Y hit the workforce over the last few years, I’m convinced it’s about a 50/50 split. Of course, if you’re reading this, you’re in the 1st group. Congrats!

For those of us who want to keep learning, now what?

Related: Hey Millennials! Learn to lead!!!

I was reading an article written by Kayla Cruz over on YouTern and she eloquently articulates how companies need to offer more leadership development courses to it’s non-supervisory workforce. I agree.

That said, let’s assume you work for a company which DOES offer leadership development opportunities. 

Time to milk the system!!!

Most people get promoted and then learn how to be managers. When someone in management vacates the position, the organization has to get someone in there quickly so there is a very short training period (if any) to get them up to speed. The problem is that managing a function requires a much different skill set than working in that system. That’s when most people flock to training sessions to figure out what to do.

Not us – we are the high achievers (just ask our mom).

We want to learn. We want to grow. We want to run things better, work harder work smarter and contribute right away (we need a trophy!!!).

Take your initiative and put it to work. 

Many entry level positions have down time and offer the perfect opportunity to take classes. Maybe the company isn’t willing to fly you to Vegas for the conference you’ve always wanted (if so, can I work for you?), but there are opportunities all around if you look. 

So, where do I find learning opportunities?

  1. Professional Associations. I’m in training and Development and we have a local association that provides monthly sessions on various T&D topics for $15/month. I figured out that the VP of Programs determined what those topics would be so I volunteered to become the VP of Programs…(what, it’s not all about me?)
  2. Young Professional Groups. Every city has YP groups that offer great social events and learning opportunities. They’re also great places to meet people if you’re new to a city. You can find out where the best places are to eat, drink, and work.
  3. Webinars/Blogs. Don’t quit reading. I know most are crap, but some really are good ways to learn management skills – especially if you can’t leave the office during your down time. Oh, and there are a TON of free ones so it doesn’t cost a thing.
  4. Your company’s training department. True, they made you sit through a video that’s older than I am about how you can’t discriminate (or some other topic circa 1981), but often they offer a lot more than you might realize when it comes to leadership development. Generally, for the non you-screwed-up-now-let’s-send-you-to-training-to-fix-you classes, you have to be proactive and search them out. Ask your manager. Ask the Training Manager. Just ask!

What about you? How do you learn? How are you developing the skills you need for when you’re the one hired into that management role? 

Don’t be like the crappy bosses who really “don’t have a clue what they’re doing.” Be prepared! 

Motivation in the workplace

Today, I was teaching a class on Motivation in the workplace. I asked the class to raise their hand if they knew what their organizations mission & vision was…

Crickets…

That’s really, really sad! How can people make effective contributions if they don’t know which way the organization is headed?

Regardless of the generation, people need to understand the ‘WHY’ before they can figure out the what.

Oh, they’ll put in the hours and they’ll do their jobs well enough to not get fired, and they might even work hard enough to do their job well.

But they won’t really buy-in.

A few days ago, we talked about the importance of getting their heart before you get their head. The great thing about getting the heart is that the soul follows. Everyone wants to pour their soul into something but few people make that something their work.

I’m not talking about life-work balance (and yes, I said that in the correct order), but rather connecting with the mission in a way that it becomes part of your life. When that happens, your organization can tackle anything.

I’m a GenY. For us, it’s more important than ever to tie the mission to our job. Without a purpose, we do things like quit, check out, surf FB, text our friends and tell them how miserable we are, and so on. If we have purpose, we’ll still surf FB and text our friends, but it’ll be to tell them how AWESOME our job is and how much we love it.

When’s the last time you heard that? Does your organization tie its mission and values to everyday work? Are people so excited to make a difference that they’ll think about it long after 5:00pm?

Do you even know your mission? Can you tell me what it is? Not verbatim, but really tell me what it means?

People can’t get there if they don’t know the destination.

Hey, Millennials, Learn to Lead

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about how Gen Y fits into the scheme of things in the workforce. As a generation, Gen Y MUST to learn to lead.

Millennials and career path

via Flicker user JobMeeting

We all know that Gen Y will be more than 50% of the workforce by 2020 and some estimates even show 75% by 2025. We also know they’re the “ME” generation; they’re the “entitled” generation; they’re the “lazy” generation, etc.

First, let me say to all of you who were born prior to 1978, you will have a really tough time understanding Gen Y, just as people older than you had a hard time understanding why you’d want to have teased up bangs or would voluntarily wear polyester (Gen Y doesn’t understand that one either).

Secondly, for those of us who are born after 1978, we think we can change the world and for the first time in history, we have the tools to actually do it. The only problem is that we’re not in charge…yet. What are we supposed to do in the meantime?

Actually, that’s not the ONLY problem for Gen Y. We’re going to be talking about some of the other issues our generation faces as we navigate our careers.

How we’re different:

Gen Y does almost everything differently. We (Gen Y) collaborate; they compete. We drift; they anchor. We don’t even think about diversity; they are trying to define it. We like praise; they consider a paycheck/promotion enough.

There are hours and hours of examples here; you get the picture.

How we’re the same:

What we tend to ignore (collective we being Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers, Traditionalists), is that we have many fundamental similarities. Passion, drive, work ethic, values, wanting to leave a legacy, spirituality, need to be a part of something, longing to learn and grow, etc., are just a few examples.

I know, you read that list and thought I’d lost my mind…that’s what separates us! WRONG! We all want those things, however, our definition of those things is quite different.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading the next few posts. If you disagree, please chime in and let me know how you see it differently.

Baby Boomers made bad decisions too

Mom & Dad 1971

Full disclosure:

I am a Gen Y but was born at the very beginning of the era. I was raised by Boomers who held very Traditionalist values. I’ve tried to expose myself to many different schools of thought from all the generations but I know I can only see things through my own eyes. I catch myself thinking like a Y and an X sometimes. You too, may not fit exactly into the neat little generational boxes and that’s okay.

My Goal:

Simply to expose others to different perspectives. My writing comes from much reading and research for a class I’m working on to teach leaders how to understand and to get the most out of different generations.

Enjoy!

What Stephen Covey Didn’t Teach Us

ImageYou know who Stephen Covey is. You know that he died recently at the age of 79. You know that he wrote one of the most popular books in history.

Recently, I read a summary of 10 Covey quotes that can change your life, and one of them really paralleled what we were discussing recently and how people make time for what they want to make time for.

Continue reading

Fostering innovation

Aside

innovationInnovation. Most businesses strive for it…well, sort of…

Basically there are 2 phases to everything. In life, business, relationships, education, anything at all, you’re either growing or you’re dying. For this instance, let’s talk about organizations.

Most business leaders and would agree that it’s crucial for an organization to be innovative, however, few know how to make that happen. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic bullet, but you can create conditions to make the environment ripe for innovation.

Regarding one source of innovation, Nancy Perkins wrote this about Gen Y workers in her blog How to think different and encourage innovation:

Some managers are seemingly threatened by the usually Gen Y’s employee’s outspoken suggestions, dismissing them as youthful and misguided egotistical aggressiveness or as sneaky ways to look better than the boss.

Don’t fall into that trap. Don’t be the bleach killing all traces of innovation DNA in your organization. Leaders are intently focused on the well being of the organization, even at the expense of themselves.
I’ll add a 3 other keys:

1. Don’t allow people to squash ideas before they’re explored. This takes many forms but one common squasher is “It’s not that bad.”

2. Find time to talk with the people closest to the people you serve. It should scare you to death that the Continue reading