1. Plant yourself where change is needed most.
Be the last one to complain about a situation and the first one to act toward improving it. Your actions will encourage others around you to get involved and help bring about positive outcomes. We tend to have more empathy toward the situation at hand when we discover how much of our own time and resources are needed to help.
2. Celebrate the wins – even the small ones.
This year has been an uphill struggle for many of us surrounding emotional health, job loss, home schooling and political divides. Taking time out to celebrate a win along the way can re-fuel the momentum needed to cross the finish line. If your family is saving to pay off debt or to make a significant purchase, acknowledge the progress you make with each step in the right direction. A software project could take two years from start to finish. Do not wait to celebrate the software “go-live” in two years – instead, celebrate each phase of the project completed along the way.
3. Embrace differences.
Welcome different backgrounds and perspectives when collaborating with others. If your brainstorming session consists of nine other people that look, think and behave like you, then time can be wasted on validating a bad idea. It is also important to welcome the “devil’s advocate” if they are participating in a constructive way. The outlook that invented the airplane was much different than the one that invented the parachute. We need both!
4. Only lecture with love.
Criticizing should always come with care. If you’re judging someone that arrives to work late regularly, does not adhere to the dress code or seems distracted during work efforts, determine if you are willing to offer them a ride to ensure they make it on-time or invite them to join you while shopping clearance deals at the clothing store. Ask yourself what you are willing to do to help someone underperforming before criticizing them. Your motive should be to help others become successful, not to tear them down.
5. Not everyone has to like you.
Sometimes, making the right decision will cost you a few friends or a few votes of support. It is important to stay honest with yourself. People know when someone is being disingenuous just to win them over. So, rather than compromise your true self to gain or maintain false approval – be OK with the fact not everyone is going to like you all the time, but they can respect your integrity during difficult decisions.
6. Always assume you are wrong.
The only safe assumption that you can ever make is that you are wrong. After forming an opinion about a presented topic, assume that you have not received all the information there is to know. Ask questions that not only justify your opinion but look for information that proves against it. Being informed is the best way to make a good decision that will not be followed by regret.
7. Manage what matters.
If you are reading this page, there is a good chance you have a Type A personality, like myself. It is great to set the bar high, exude and expect excellence, and pay extreme attention to detail – until it works against you. Micromanaging the people and events taking place around you only takes your attention away from what matters. Do not sweat the small stuff, have faith in others and spend your best energy on what matters most, which is not always what is in front of you right now.
8. Movement does not equal productivity.
Busy work is not always meaningful. Finding ways to be efficient allows you to work smarter, not harder. Look at your calendar and determine if any scheduled meetings can be handled via email and a shared document. That frees up space for multiple individuals to be productive and improves work-life balance. In your personal life, determine if the activities taking up most of your free time align with your priorities.
9. Spend more time planning.
Increased planning can reduce knee-jerk reactions down the road. Spend time with your family deciding what is important over the next three years and determine how to accomplish those milestones. When distractions or unplanned circumstances arise, you can make clear decisions that align with your goals when addressing them. Time spent planning and creating goals lessens the time spent reacting to circumstances down the road.
10. Remote requires more.
COVID-19 has required many people and children to work or attend school in a virtual environment, utilizing tools that support working from home offices. Working remote means you must be intentional about building and maintain relationships in the workspace. Increase your interactions with people you do not see face to face anymore. Turn on your video camera and send the extra text message to someone. Physical exercise, fresh air and sunlight also require more intent when not commuting to school or work. If possible, designate a space that allows uninterrupted focus while there and the ability to “shut the door” and turn it off while away.
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