Crazy: A Review of April

May 16, 2013 by

April was…crazy. Personally, professionally, in all ways absolutely crazy. It seems like every month this year has been crazy, which makes it doubly hard to focus on maintaining peace in mind. Nevertheless I’ll continue working on it.

April’s review

Here are a few key things that happened this month:

  • I went out eating, dancing and drinking with a couple of my best girlfriends on a weekend when Dan was out of town. We ended up closing down a bar at 2:30am which hasn’t happened in a long time. Even though I was really tired the next day it was so much fun! I really love to dance and often forget how important it is to me.My_neighborhood_in_bloom.
  • Dan’s birthday was this month so I took him out for a Caps game and a night on the town. Again, we had so much fun. Hockey is absolutely my favorite sport to watch in person and it was a great game. As always, spending dedicated time with my hubs was the best part of this trip.
  • I presented at a conference on supervisory skills (and then wrote a blog post about it). I haven’t presented to this audience before, so it was a great opportunity to get to know some new people and continue building my business.
  • We hosted our housewarming party – finally! It was great to see so many old friends and meet/play with their little ones. There are more and more kids among my group of friends so our parties have changed quite a bit since the old days 🙂
  • I attended and participated in several meetings for my usual transportation groups and commissions as well as the short-term parking group I’m on.

All in all, it was an exhausting month, especially because work was very busy as well. The biggest personal milestone that happened this month was the housewarming party and finally “opening” the house up for visitors. Several people hadn’t seen our place yet, so it was great to show off the new kitchen and all the work that went into making the house ours.Farragut_Square__dreaming_in_the_sun_while__zachsmith_101_and_I_grab_lunch_at_the_food_trucks.

The biggest business milestone I accomplished was to get my new website design and header launched (after far more hours of work than I originally intended to put into it). Getting that launched was sometimes an exhausting and frustrating process, so you can bet I won’t be doing it again soon! But it did allow me a chance to more clearly highlight the coaching work I can do with people (you maybe?) and the great content already on the blog.

The most valuable lesson I learned this month is that I need to take advantage of mental downtime whenever and where ever I can. There were, quite literally, almost no hours of any day in April when I wasn’t working, traveling somewhere, reading in preparation for something, cleaning, cooking or any number of other things. So when I had a chance to walk slowly home a couple of times through the beautiful spring foliage in my neighborhood or just stare out the window during my bus ride instead of doing work, it was a real balm to my mind and soul.

Next month

For the rest of May, I’m going to focus on taking time to relax whenever I can. I’m also going to work on trying to parcel out my time carefully so that I can try to preserve some of it for relaxation while still getting my work done.

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5 more supervision skills

Apr 23, 2013 by

In all the time I’ve been writing this blog, the most popular post I’ve ever written (by a huge margin), was “7 Skills for Supervision Success.” That is very telling to me. It tells me I should write most posts about it because people still need and want them. The role of supervisor remains one of the most important, but under-respected and under-trained in organizations everywhere.

And its not just nonprofits; I recently spoke at the National Association of Government Communicators 2013 Communications School and the folks in my session echoed what so many of you have said to me in the past about your struggles with supervising. While I don’t pretend to have all the answers, I do want to try to provide more support to those of you who have been thrust into supervision without the training and guidance you need or want.

To that end, here are 5 more supervision skills to add to your playbook:5

  1. Allow room for innovation – When a big project or piece of a project comes up and you decide to delegate it to someone you supervise, it can be tempting to give them all sorts of instructions on what to do and how to do it. And occasionally, that’s warranted – like when it’s a financial report or some other thing that has clearly defined rules and polices surrounding it. But, in general, you probably need to back off. Even if you think you know exactly the best and most efficient way to do it, you still have to provide room for the person you supervise to innovate and try something new. They may just figure out a new and better way to do something.
  2. Provide room to learn – How does someone learn to perform a new task or build a skill? Some of us get a bit of training and are then thrust out into the field to put training into practice immediately. Some of us are shown exactly how to do something and told it replicate it exactly. Some of us are asked to do something and then are just expected to figure out with no outside assistance. As a good supervisor, your job is to ensure that those you supervise don’t suffer through any of these ‘methods’, but instead learn through a combination of the best parts of each. You should provide training, actual hands on experience and modeling for those you supervise so that they can learn the way you’ve done it and figure out their own ways of making it work.
  3. Allow room for failure – This one may be the toughest on this list because it requires you to purposely step back and allow someone you probably like and trust to go down. (And it assumes that you can see it coming, not that it snuck up on both of you.) I’m not suggesting that you allow a major, deadline-driven project to tank just so someone you supervise can grow. What I am suggesting is that allowing room for innovation includes the potential for failure and that it’s important for that to happen in order for you both to learn. If you constantly swoop in to ‘fix’ something before it’s run it’s course, the person you supervise will never learn how to fix it him or herself and may feel resentful because you’re always butting in. In other words: butt out.
  4. Encourage positivity – I’m not someone who enjoys cheesy, fake expressions of interest or forced celebrations, but I do know that sometimes you have to grit your teeth and smile – even if you don’t want to. What’s more, if you start smiling, others will too; then they’ll get used to it and might actually start internalizing the positive emotions a smile brings. By creating a little positivity and encouraging others to spread it, you’ll find that your team is generally more happy anyway which will make even dull tasks a little more fun.
  5. Celebrate! – In my 7 Skills post, I mentioned giving credit (and taking responsibility) to others on your team. Celebration is little bit broader and usually involves a few more people too. Nonprofit, mission-focused people are often so focused on the next thing to do that they forget to celebrate victories that have happened, no matter how small. But during the celebration please don’t bring out your speech about how this is only the first step in a longer slog to ultimate victory; you’ll only depress people by making them think of all the work ahead. Instead, just bask in the victory and let them do the same.

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Peace: My Preview of 2013

Jan 14, 2013 by

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a review post of 2012, based on Rosetta Thurman’s excellent guide. Today, I’m looking forward with a preview of 2013, also with the help of her suggestions.

After thinking through these questions (a lot – it took me over a week to finish this post), I’ve decided that my guiding principle for 2013 is PEACE. Peace in mind, body and spirit. While my work and travel schedule shows no signs of lightening anytime soon, my internal world needs to lighten up quite a bit. I’m going to work on remaining focused but also taking it easy on myself in 2013. Happy New Year!

 

What I Want to Bring Into My Life in 2013

What do you deserve more of next year? What do you deserve less of next year?

I deserve fun and some adventure this year. My nose has been to the proverbial grindstone for a long time and that has led to a lot of sitting around on my butt when I have down time or visiting the same old places (i.e., lack of motivation to explore). This year, I want to expand my horizons just a bit and eat at new restaurants, see some shows and visit new places.

I deserve less stress this year. I deserve less self-imposed stress and less stress placed on me by others (whether intentionally or not). I don’t deserve it and I’m going to stop owning it.peace

What personal milestone(s) do you most want to reach in your relationships, health, family, finances, education and/or lifestyle?

I want our house to be ‘done’ – even though I’m not quite sure how to define that. I figure that it’s like Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: I can’t define it, but I’ll know it when I see it. We’ve been painting, renovating, decorating, hanging pictures, etc. for so long that it feels like it will never be done. But it will. Oh yes, it will.

What professional accomplishments (at work or in your business) do you want to see for yourself next year?

I want to build and grow my career coaching business significantly this year. I want to work with more clients, do more speaking engagements and make more money. If you read this blog regularly, you won’t be surprised that I’ve already developed a plan to grow it and the next step is to implement that plan.

What do you want to learn in 2013?

I want to learn the best, most efficient ways to earn money through my side business; essentially, what is the most lucrative line of work I can do and still help the most people? Part of my business plan is to test various methods out to identify the top earners.

What do you want to cross off of your bucket list in 2013?

While I won’t quite be able to knock it off my bucket list in 2013, I’m already aiming to visit Europe in 2014 (which is a bucket list item). My husband and I have already starting thinking about general dates and locations and by the summer of 2014, we will have crossed it off our list!

 

What I Want My Life to Look Like in 2013

What part of your life do you want to pay more attention to in 2013?

My internal, emotional life. I want to pay more attention to what is happening internally and why. I seem to spend a lot of energy expressing, suppressing, thinking about, talking about and worrying about my own responses to things, but not necessarily in a productive way. This year, I want to spend time consciously interrogating my own emotions with the goal of learning how to move through them in a way that acknowledges them but doesn’t allow them to constantly dominate my thinking.

Who do you want to spend more time with in 2013?

My good friends, especially those whose time is more limited (largely because they have young kids). While I certainly have important time commitments, my time is still more flexible than those with young children. I want to spend more time with them in a way that is comfortable to them/for them.

Who do you want to spend less time with in 2013?

Toxic people who are so-called ‘friends’. I’ve already started the process of separating myself from these people, but in 2013 want to disengage entirely. I’m done wasting my time with people who aren’t fun and just bring me down.

Which activities, habits or behaviors, if any, do you want to stop doing in 2013 because they no longer serve you?

I want to stop talking about/gossiping about/complaining about people so much. While I won’t try to pretend that I’m going to stop completely, I want to continue to reduce the amount of time I spend being vocally negative. I started working on that in 2012 and I found that trying harder to be positive had a effect on my emotional state overall (in a good way). I want to keep up that work in 2013.

Which activities do you want to start and/or continue doing in 2013?

I want to schedule – and stick to the schedule – of working on my business regularly in 2013. I did this sporadically throughout 2012, but lots of other things got in the way. This year, I want to be realistic about my time, stay focused and use the time as effectively as possible to grow my business.

What will your ideal day look like next year?

I will wake up, work out, eat a healthy breakfast and head to my full-time job. Then I’ll work a highly productive 8 hour day and come home. Once I get home I’ll make/eat dinner with my husband and then either spend a couple of hours on my business or spend time with him. I’ll then go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. I’m excited already!

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