My kids can recite one of dad’s favorite phrases; don’t make the problems you create my problems. For example, my youngest runs around in the morning when he should be getting his stuff together for school. We have to frequently remind him to find his glasses and get his backpack. He knows what needs to be done, he just chooses not to do it. Well, the other day that backfired when he got to school and announced he didn’t have his school bag, which contained his tennis shoes (it’s winter in ND so wears boots to school) and homework. I repeated my favorite saying and told him he’d have to make due since I wasn’t going home to get it. The problem he created was not going to become my problem that day.
This is an at-home experience, but what happens at work can be far worse because usually the problem does become your problem. I once had a boss say “I have a problem. What are you going to do about it?” I’ve also had a sales person gather our team to tell us a new customer was promised features we don’t have in an unreasonable time frame and if we missed the dates, they, and their revenue, will walk. In both these instances, they perceived their problems to be far more important than anything else I was working on, and their problems became my problems.
Instead of using colorful metaphors to describe how I felt about the situation, and them, I am a good corporate citizen and want to help the company be successful. This usually requires shifting other priorities around, which means other work is not getting done, which means upset people. Then, gathering a team and jumping into a solution right away. Eventually you’ll get it done. Maybe on time, maybe not. Maybe to full scope, maybe not. Maybe to full quality, or maybe not. But ultimately, you’ll find a way and can announce you and the team went above and beyond to meet a near impossible request.
I do promise, though, the offender who distributed their problem to me is known by my boss and my boss’ boss, with the request of “coaching” the troublemaker to talk to me or others first before transferring their problems to others.
It is that time of year again when we look to the future and set goals to accomplish over the next 365 days. Ah 2018, we’re glad you, and your possibilities, are here.
Every year I develop goals that are more than just “go to the gym” or “spend more time reading.” I make them realistic and in some cases, even fun. I also post them because then there’s greater accountability for me to accomplish. I try to create a catchy acronym so they’re easier to remember. This year it’s FEDUP; Family, Education, Develop, Ultra, Presentations.
Family: spend a week with my family completely detached from work making memories and having adventures, going to a location we’ve never been to
Education/Professional Development: attend at least two seminars/webinars on servant leadership and organizational agility, as those are areas I’m interested in and want to learn more about
Develop Others: I will be the president of my church council and work with others to develop strategies that will help our congregation, and the surrounding community, grow. I’d also like to setup a networking group within our church given we have 1500+ members
Ultra-marathon: this is a stretch goal, but considering an ultra marathon (a race longer than 26.2 miles); I may do a trail-running marathon instead (the one I’m looking at has 11k feet of elevation change over 26.2 miles!)
Presentations: present project management or leadership concepts at two PMI or similar events
So there they are, my 2018 goals are set and I’m ready to take them on. What area your goals?
“You wanna try this?” A simple question from my neighbor as we discussed the various running and biking races taking place over this past summer. A “Sure, why not” was my response which landed us overlooking a lake for the longest triathlon I’ve done to date. A 550 yard swim, 21 mile bike and 5 mile run in what was described as a picturesque lake setting and rolling hills. In reality it was a green, algae-filled lake and constant hill climbs on the bike and run. Couple that with 90 degree temps, crazy winds on part of the bike ride and you start to question your sanity.
Since music is not allowed and the fear of drowning on the swim was over, I was left with nothing but my thoughts and sound of my own breath as I went along in the next two events. Constantly I chewed myself out but since I committed to doing this race, I was committed to finishing. After 2 hours 17 minutes, I crossed the finish line. Sweaty, tired, sore, and mumbling under my breath I accepted my medal and ate the best banana I’ve ever tasted. I’d done something a lot of people don’t do. I was in pain, but I also felt a huge sense of accomplishment.
Since that day in July, I’ve used this success as a benchmark for other events. It motivated my neighbor to run her first half marathon in September, which I ran with her. I have also done a couple other races that weren’t long, but pushed my speed. Now, I have the confidence to sign up for a 26.2 mile marathon along Lake Superior that boasts 11k feet of elevation change. But I know I can do it.
Our paths are all different and some of us may experience pain. But remember, this pain is temporary and when you’re successful, it can be contagious!
I’m not a fan of the word “HOPE.” It’s a 4 letter word for me because in the absence of a plan or strategy, the only thing you have is a hope that everything will go your way. Hope doesn’t deliver results.
However, when I reminded someone today that hope wasn’t a strategy, they reminded me this is the season of hope. I should embrace, even for a short time, that it exists. So to that end, I will celebrate the season by HOPING the following for your initiatives:
Your project is aligned with organizational strategy
The sponsor is strong and supportive, not passive and apathetic
Stakeholders understand your project, its importance, and provide resources in a timely manner
Your project team is cohesive and dynamic & conflicts are kept professional and not personal
The change requests stay at a minimum
Project finances stay in the black
You don’t have to pull out your “scope stick” and beat those individuals who try to add scope by going directly to team members
Your processes exist but are flexible enough to be customized to the project
People don’t piss you off too much
Your status meetings are short and no one complains about your status reports
You celebrate yours, and your team’s, continued success