- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘time management’
Sometimes I feel mesmerized with the concept of “change”. I’m always doing my best to be self-aware of where I’m resistant to change and where I welcome, and adapt to, change.
Take my travel schedule. I was just on my way to Chicago last week for a 22 hour trip. I was set to arrive at 3:30pm and make it just in time to a reception at 5pm, followed by a group dinner.
However, my schedule didn’t have the same plans that I did for me. On my outbound flight trip to Chicago, we got delayed due to fog. Long story short, I didn’t make it to Chicago until 6pm and barely made it to my group dinner on time, let alone the reception beforehand.
As I was standing in the airport delayed, the amount of our delay kept changing: first we were 30 minutes delayed, then we were 45 minutes delayed, then we were an hour and 15 minutes delayed. We even had a “reverse-delay” as I call it: they shaved 5 minutes off our delayed take-off time!
I was very self-aware during the entire time I was standing at the airport monitoring all of these delays, including the final one in my favor by 5 minutes. I stopped and assessed my real choices in that moment. With each new delay, I could tell I had a choice to “accept” this new change in my travel schedule or resist it.
You’re probably wondering how I could have resisted being delayed each time it happened. It’s not like I could fly on my own without the airline. I suppose I could have gone to another airline in an attempt to fly sooner, but who really does that?
However, resistance in that moment would have looked like me getting upset and angry and then victimizing myself- “This always happens when I fly” or “Why me? I have to get to Chicago”.
Had I resisted, the outcome of the flight would not have changed- I flew when the airline told me I could. However had I resisted, the outcome of my experience would have been vastly different. I would have felt really out of control and angry.
In that moment, I had a choice to see the delays differently. How?
Instead of resisting the delays, I adapted and accepted the delays. I pulled out my laptop, got two hours of solid work done and ate some breakfast. I even had time to people watch and check the weather in Chicago. I felt productive and quiet content. Most importantly, I was not a victim and felt in control of my life and time. I was happy!
“Change” is defined in the dictionary as a noun meaning, “the act or instance of making or becoming different”. What this means for me is that when I’m faced with a change, I can see it as an opportunity to be different. Different is often scary, I know. However, in each moment of my life I have a choice to choose to see thing differently, be different and as a result, change and grow.
Choosing to be different in each moment you are presented with a change smacks of evolution, in my opinion. “Evolution” is defined in part as the process of growth and development.
So what does this mean for you? Stop and consider:
- Where in your life are you fearful of change? Do you even know you are fearful?
- Where in your life are you resistant to anything new or different?
- Is this way of being really leaving you happy and evolved? Or are you fooling yourself by believing you are safe if you stay in your comfort zone and ignore/resist anything new?
- How will you know if something new could work for you if you don’t adapt and change and choose to see things differently for yourself? Do you want life to always be a mystery that passed you by or do you want to be courageous and try on something new and grow and develop?
I’m always working on not being so rushed. As much as I meditate and work on being self-aware, the left-brained part of me wants to stay in control and push through everything- fast. Plus, I’m a work horse of sorts- I get lots of stuff done quickly! It’s great since I run a company. Yet, if I don’t stay self-aware of it ALL the time, it can be exhausting and frustrating.
In our culture, we all run around saying how “busy” we are and how “stressed” we are. In a world that is over-texted, over-tweeted and over-caffeinated, this all makes sense sadly, right? However, there seems to be more to this notion of being so busy and stressed.
To me, it seems we are developing very dramatic brands. It’s like being stressed and busy are so cool. I sometimes chuckle to myself when I hear people tell me how busy they are. Some are so busy they run out of time to respond to emails and calls and to eat.
Really?!?! No one wants to be around, hire or promote a brand that is so busy and stressed that they forget to eat!!
Don’t you think others are busy, too?
Every time I open my mouth to complain about being “so busy”, I stop and think how rude it will seem to the listener. It’s like I’m saying to them, “I’m so much better than you since I’m so busy”. What I’m really saying is, “I can’t manage my life and time and I like to publicize it because my brand is disorganized and drama”.
Being this busy is an ugly and unorganized brand. It is also just way too much drama.
A client of mine said the other day that he’s decided that at the end of his work day he is training himself to leave the office at a decent time to get home to his family. How? He stops and asks himself, “is anyone going to die if I leave now and come back to the work on my desk in the morning?” The usual answer is “no”- especially since he is an accountant.
That’s a low drama and pragmatic brand, for sure. I applaud him. You can see the results of this attitude he has: his brand is fantastic – he just made partner and is managing an entire office for his company. Low drama and pragmatic brands work!
What does this mean for you? Stop and ask yourself:
- How often do you go around telling others how busy and stressed you are?
- How much drama do you have around being busy and stressed- does it bring you some sense of being important to feel you are stressed and busy a lot?
- What do others see/perceive of your busy/stressed brand? Is it good? Does it get you seen/heard and respected? Does it drive clients, promotions and business to your door?
- Will anyone die if you limit your activities and stop before you hit your maximum stress limit? Unless you are a doctor, I think the answer is clear to this one.
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In this world where we are all running around in a hurry trying to get who-knows-where, stop and think to yourself: what’s the best thing you have to give? If we look at what we know to be “for sure” in life, we’ll find that besides death and taxes, time is a sure thing.
What do I mean by this? We only have so much life to live. So how much are you giving to your life and where? Your time and where you choose to put it really are in your control. If you think otherwise, then you are getting sucked into the game of “there is never enough time”. You may be out of balance.
If you look at your career and aspirations, there are certain things that are very important for you. For instance, if you are a lawyer, then becoming a partner is valued because not everyone can achieve it, only the “elite”. If you are looking to get promoted within your company or get a new and better job, then that is valued because your new title/job signals something to others- that you’ve made it.
But what have you really “made” it to? Put another way, what are the costs of your success? Maybe your success costs you your relationships? Maybe your happiness and joy in life? Or maybe both? It really can be very lonely on the top. Is it just too painful to step back and observe? Is that why you read this and subconsciously think it is non-sense and “fluff”?
I believe all great personal brands (and thus successful people) have balance in their lives. Unfortunately, because of the stressors and demands of particular careers (i.e., lawyers and doctors), we are out of balance and oftentimes, not even aware of it.
Balance means that we stop and assess our lives. As Byron Katie said when I interviewed her, we stop and “sort out our lives” by sitting still. Then we can find that we want our time to mean something. If all we have is our time and how we give to others, allow yourself to do things that you love to do- things that nurture, enrich and balance you. For instance, doing community service that actually and truly enriches the community nurtures and enriches you, too.
If you stay out of balance long enough no one wants to be around you, much less hire you. That’s the sign of a failing personal brand. Eventually anything out of balance succumbs to natural forces and tips over. Don’t let that be you. Find your balance and center. Now, that’s a great brand.
TELL US WHAT YOU DO TO STAY IN BALANCE.
A common conversation I have with attorneys revolves around the almighty billable hour. Depending on how long they have been in practice and where they are in their career, they are either wondering how to monitor the hours (i.e., hire/fire others who don’t meet them) or trying to figure out how to meet their own hours.
One thing applies to all of them across the board when it comes to billable hours- they are all stressed out. Many are to the point of obsession about their billable requirements. This obsession leads to all sorts of nasty things- like paralysis, I dare say. According to my research, there is a direct inverse correlation between your self confidence and stress. The higher your stress, the lower your self-confidence and thus, the poorer your personal brand for others.
So what, you say? What does this have to do with my billable requirement?
Well, I believe that the pressure to bill X number of hours leads to higher stress and less productivity. In other words, lawyers produce worse and less. The other detriment of this is of course that lawyers are angry, anxious and perhaps at the point of desperation where they’ll compromise their integrity to bill enough….all leading to a bad public brand perception of our industry.
What if there was a peaceful, productive atmosphere and less angst around the almighty billable? I’m not disillusioned when I suggest this- I’ve been there, done that. It didn’t work then, it hasn’t worked for others since. And it is only getting worse.
If you are “in charge” and reading this consider creating a work atmosphere that is less tense and focused on the billable hour. Try something new and be daring. It can’t fail.
If you are reading this and you are identifying with my message because you “must bill”, then what about trying something new. What if you work it the other way: set your PERSONAL weekly billable goal lower and exceed it. Watch the stress go down and your productivity and happiness go up. Also, consider what’s the worst that can happen if you don’t bill “enough”? If the answer isn’t “death” then I think you know what to do.
As the years go by in my personal branding work with people and organizations, I see some very common mistakes people make. Below are the top three mistakes I see very regularly. These mistakes are a sure way to have an ineffective personal brand and thus, lead to an ineffective business brand. Both lead to you having less recall value for others, a less robust client and prospect pool and– less happiness.
“People come to me because of my expertise”- All too often (just yesterday), I hear my brilliant clients argue with me that their personal brand is just fine because people come to them based on their expertise. This happens less when I am working with musicians and artists because they have a better tendency to appreciate the “entire package” philosophy.
We are all conditioned to believe that our education and our substantive work are superior to anything else in life. I’m a big believer in education and providing quality substantive work. However, don’t believe for a minute that your education and your substantive know-how is what your personal brand is all about. People first notice you and your uniqueness, not your expertise and substance. Your emotional value for people has nothing to do with expertise, necessarily.
“I’m too busy” – Time becomes more and more precious in our society, it seems. We are all running around juggling work, family, parents, etc. Time is also a very good excuse for us to avoid focusing on our personal brands- figuring out our uniqueness, passion and contribution to society as a person. It’s much easier to focus on our substantive work (see #1 above) because it is safer and within our comfort zone. We have less chance for failure and less opportunity to find out about ourselves and fix things that don’t serve us well. Find time or else pay the price later.
Ignore the ‘signs’ and feedback– It is so difficult for us to accept criticism or be willing to look at ourselves and see what we are doing not so well. It takes serious guts and a desire to succeed to be willing to explore yourself and your personal brand. I have deep respect for every client of mine for this reason. I often get comments stating that personal branding is “fluff” and irrelevant. These comments often come from those who are afraid to be better- better people, better leaders, better employees and better service providers. To have an effective personal brand, you’ve got to be willing to stop and assess what the world has to say about you and your brand,- the good, the bad and the ugly. How else will you improve, excel and be happier in life?