Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Where does the time go???

Wow! I just realized I have not posted in over a week. Seems odd that someone who professes the virtues of self-development should forget to invest the time in his own development.....

But it's a topic worth talking about; we all know we need to work on our development, but we allow things to get in the way. Vacations, work schedules, even the World Cup will easliy invade our precious time in a way to make development take a back seat. So let me ask you - when is the last time you invested a little time in your own development? If you are like most of us, you cannot remember!

One technique that I've heard of to stay on track with your own development is to schedule time in your calendar for it. Simply block out a recurring meeting for an hour a week, or two or whatever works for you and devote that time to "sharpening the saw". You can decide what type of development activity best suits you, your goals and your timeslot, but make a clear commitment on your calender not just to take the time, but also about what you intend to accomplish - reading Jack Welche's newest book, listening to The Cranky Middle Manager Podcast or refreshing yourself on the corporate mission, vision, values and goals... all can be worthwhile development actions.

Crack open your diary, Outlook or whatever you use and block a recurring meeting RIGHT NOW! Dont let anything short of a fire alarm keep you from this appointment and then TELL YOUR BOSS and YOUR TEAM what you are doing.... "I'm going to my development appointment" will send a message that you care about development and are using it to become a better player.

Monday, June 12, 2006

What do Footie, the MLB and jewelery sales have to do with the business?

Could I have picked more obscure topics - probably not! So what do those things (and a million other random items) have to do with each other and your business? They can all be great ways to connect people in the workplace to one another, and that can be a great differentaitor in how people feel connected to the workplace.

Football (in either flavor- American or European) is a major passtime - even the most buttoned down person you know will chat to you about exploits of their favorite team. Same holds true for Baseball and just about any other prefix to -ball! Jewelery and Avon enthusiasts aboud in most offices too. These are all great opportunities for people with like interests to connect and bond.

Since the folks in our office already share the common bond of working together, some of us presume that's enough for them to be sociable about. But the truth is that just sharing (or surviving in) the same office space does not help us grow to understand and appreciate each other. Adding in common threads of human pursuit - be it ice hockey or air hockey - gives a common non-work connection for people. This can foster interactions that transcend the co-worker and help us understand and appreciate the PERSON!

Honestly, how many of us have blown-off a request from a co-worker? Dont lie - it's sooo unflattering - we've ALL done it! On the other hand we are far less likely to deny a request from someone we know, care about and may even call "friend". Call it friendship, comradarie or anything else - emotions that transcend the workplace are far more valuable and rewarding for all concerned.

Identify one common thread with 3 other employees in your company - could be on your team or not, it doesnt matter - then engage them in that common thread. Talk about World Cup news, Basketball playoffs, summer fashions... whatever! Just open a non-work door for communication and shared interests and see what blooms.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Growth through giving

Charity begins at home, but shouldn’t end there. – Scottish Proverb

The best leaders among us are recognized by many traits. We often describe leaders as; smart, brave, loyal, strong, dedicated, fearless, etc... Odd how when you ask most folks for words to describe great leaders, they leave out words like generous, self-less, charitable and compassionate. I submit that if you really want to describe the greatest leaders of our time, these words must be included.

Charity takes on many forms – you can be charitable to your staff, to your company or even to your competitors, but the truest forms of charity have less to do with business for they will be seen as a tactic in the business world. The most telling examples of charity that set great leaders apart from the pack are those done with a sincere intent to help, and to lead and encourage others to join in the cause.

I’ve had the privilege of working for some great leaders along they way and they helped me find the courage to commit to charitable works that give me an opportunity to give something back to the world. While I know in my mind that I am putting myself in a “good light” by doing these charitable things, my heart drives me into the work with no consideration for any benefit I might derive – giving is my reward alone.

Ok, so here’s the shameless plug – I am volunteering in an American Cancer Society program named “Relay for Life”. It’s a 24 hour relay event where members of my team will be walking on a track for 24 hours straight to raise funds, awareness and even the spirits of cancer survivors. I have lots of personal reasons to do this. I figure that many of you have the same reasons to engage in some charitable cause. I would, of course appreciate any support you would care to lend. If you would like to know more about this event or to see how you can help, please visit my Relay For Life site – you can see all sorts of information about this event, how you can help or just leave a message of encouragement to our team or the survivors we support.

Find some charitable work to engage in. There are hundreds of ways you can give back to the world – Disease prevention and cure groups, religious groups, youth services, domestic and substance abuse… the list goes on and on. You can surely find a way to help by contributing your time, talents or resources – whatever the cause, you can find a way to contribute. You’ll be glad you did!