Follow Your Dreams

linotype

 

 

 

 

‘It’s our choices, Harry,
that show us what we really are…
far more than our abilities.’

~ Albus Dumbledore from ‘ Harry Potter’ by J K Rowling ~

Thanks to all of the feedback I received on my post last week, I did entertain the Junior Achievement students with the story of my first job.  After letting them know I was fired and why, I went on to explain to them that had I found out early what was expected of me it probably would have gone much differently. When I was sharing this story with them, I thought it best to also let them know that my first professional job was much more successful. I was a legal secretary and worked with I.B.M. Wow that made an impression, until I told them to beware of acronyms. I.B.M. in this case stood for the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Well the students were still impressed, maybe more impressed than before.  I went on to explain that my employer, in addition to being an attorney, was also a magician and that he held the position of International Secretary for this I.B.M. In that role he was responsible for publishing and collecting the subscription fees for their monthly magazine, The Linking Ring.

Thinking back on my legal secretary days, I had an opportunity to hone my typing and shorthand skills, learn some basic accounting, multi-currency, banking, and money management. Additionally I learned how to run the Linotype machine. For you youngsters, think large metal monster clang and bang late into the night just to get the mailing of the magazine out.  What took me days now takes only a few hours using an Outlook Address book and Mail Merge. Oh how life has changed.

Enough about the metal monster of magazine mailing. The lesson I learned that has stuck with me and still is of value today is that you really can live your dreams. Let me give you some background on my attorney boss. He was a friend of my mothers and came from an upstanding “farming family.” He was a big guy one you might term as a “gentle giant.” His hands were large and calloused from bailing hay all summer and he also had the misfortune to be born with a club foot.  His boyhood desire was to escape the farming life and tour the world as a magician. For those of you who have tried a magic trick or two you will know how important it is to move quickly and have “sleight of hand.” He realized early on that neither of these two most important skills would ever be within his capabilities. Wanting to escape the farm, he studied hard and got a scholarship to Ohio State University and went on to study law and sit for the bar exam. Still a small town boy at heart, he returned home and setup his law practice.

Never forgetting his early dreams, he decided that he still could do some magic so he joined the I.B.M. and performed magic tricks at children’s parties. He used his business acumen to benefit the Brotherhood and for many years held his International Secretary position, publishing and distributing The Linking Ring.  I have many fond memories of those days in that tiny office and the clanging banging Linotype. Today when I look back I realized that he did not give up on his dream, he just let it take on a slightly different form. In doing that he brought a lot of smiles to children’s faces, touched the lives of many budding magicians in far off lands, and helped one very impressionable girl understand that you should never give up on your dream.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

waitress

 

 

 

 

“I think everyone should experience defeat at least once during their career. You learn a lot from it.” -Lou Holtz

This week has been a trip down memory lane. Let me just say that it is a very long lane and went all the way back to when I got my first job as a waitress. The pay was awesome, a whole 75 cents an hour. That was a super raise from the 50 cents per hour I had been earning from babysitting.  My days as a waitress at the local diner were not long-lived, they were cut short by my behavior. Well, no one had bothered to tell me that I couldn’t clock out for my lunch break at noon to sit and eat with my mother. Humph guess they thought I would just have enough sense to know not to take a break at the busiest time of the day. Who knew that they would fire me for such an innocent offense? Oh well, my second job was way better – frying chicken at the Hardin County Fair where they loved me and I made a whopping $1.25 per hour.

Let me put this trip down memory lane in context. I am hosting a Junior Achievement (JA) Job Shadow Day here at our offices next week. As a part of that, we held a “lunch and learn” session for the staff who volunteered to be the JA job shadow hosts so that they could understand the agenda for the day and learn what was expected of them as a host. During that meeting the JA Program Manager showed a few great video’s. One of them was, “Make a Difference in the Life of a Child” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZLeBFNIUVo ( to learn more about Junior Achievement in Orange County visit http://jaoc.org/) .

While we were having our lunch, we started discussing our first job experiences and how much we did not know about the work world.  For some of the hosts, their trips down memory lane was much shorter than mine, but in every case we remembered how much we didn’t know then compared to where we are at today. This helped us put in context what we could do as hosts for the students. Modeling professional behavior, showing enthusiasm for our work and for the company, and answering the students questions will all be a part of the day. Especially explaining to the students how we got to where we are today. Some of us have taken a very circuitous route to get to the positions we currently hold. This brought me to the memories of a few of my first jobs. I can say that I have learned a bit since then.  One, it is important to understand what is expected of you on the job, two, it is important to show up for work on time and ready to work, and three, repeat one and two each and every day.  The rest is just good manners, be kind, be trustworthy, be respectful, and be a team player.

So it is with excitement that I am looking forward to our Junior Achievement Job Shadow Day.  We will have over fifty students visiting from two different local high schools along with a few teachers. What a great opportunity this is for our staff and the students.  However, I don’t think I will share with the students my first job experience or maybe on the other hand I should. What do you think?

Who Kicked The Dog?

downdog

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I read this post  http://blogs.hbr.org/bregman/2013/04/why-you-should-take-the-blame.html     “Why You Should Take The Blame” from Peter Bergman, I was reminded of a “significant emotional event” in my life.  First a bit of background about me; I attended a Catholic elementary school and the nuns who ran the place did so with an iron fist.  Second there was not much money for simple luxuries in my house, these included haircuts at a beauty parlor rather than sitting on a stool in the kitchen with a bowl on my head waiting for my mother to make another disaster of my hair — the first disaster was when she thought she could thin it like they did at the beauty parlor just by snipping with her sewing shears at various lengths.  Picture me having to wear a knit cap to school for weeks waiting for my hair to grow out. So with that in mind, this story will make a bit more sense.

Every Thursday we had choir practice. Our whole class marched across the street to the church and into the balcony where we stood in pre-arranged formation around the organ.  When you assemble thirty plus fifth graders and expect them to pay complete attention to their hymnals things happen. What happened this particular day was an astounding silent spit ball fight between the boys standing in rows 3 through 5. I was just an innocent bystander minding my own business singing away in row 4, well lip syncing really as that was all I was allowed by the nuns to do. As spit balls began to whiz by my head ultimately some missed their row 5 mark and landed in my lap. I felt compelled to return them to their original creators.  I’m here to tell you that Sister Theresa Cecile did have eyes in the back of her head. While she was playing the organ she somehow knew that there was pandemonium happening behind her back.  Or maybe it was the spit ball leavings on the balcony floor that gave her the clue. In either case, once we all marched back across the street we were lined up in formation and asked to raise our hands if we had participated in this most unholy event in the church under the eyes of God. Now being the very honest young girl that I was (notice I use past tense here) I of course raised my hand.

All those with unraised hands were allowed back in their seats while the rest of us received a lecture and instruction to remain behind after class that day. When the bell rang at 3:00 p.m. I quickly gathered my books and ran out the front door. I did not think I would be missed nor did I think that I should be punished after all I really was just an innocent bystander.  Besides, I had a very important after school engagement. On this rare occasion, my mother had made me an appointment with a friend of hers who was a hair stylist.  I was finally going to get that hair style that I was sure would turn me from Tom boy into ravishing 5th grade beauty queen.  As I sat in the wondrous chair gazing into the mirror with the star encrusted cape over my shoulders waiting for the first snip, the phone rang. My mother was calling from work to tell me that Sister Theresa Cecile had phoned her and I was to return to school immediately — that meant no shampoo, no snip, no fancy rollers, I was doomed to remain a Tom boy. Devastated I trudged back to school and sat at my desk being punished with an unruly group of 5th grade boys. We were required to make and hurl spit balls at each other for an hour and then had to not only clean up that mess but also wash down all of the blackboards.

If you are wondering what life lesson I learned from this event, it was that in Bergman’s example don’t take the blame for participating in kicking the dog if all you did was put the poor dog back in his place. I know that this is a bit counter to the point he makes in his post and I do certainly think we should step forward and take responsibility for our actions. However, I also believe that taking the responsibility for the actions of others is seldom the right thing to do for either yourself or them.  I don’t believe in pointing the finger of blame. You can count on me to say I am sorry for those things that I am responsible for and learn from the experience, but if I didn’t kick the dog I ain’t gonna step forward and take the blame. I won’t rat you out, but you’d better own up to your shame or you won’t be on my team for long.

And thus another life lesson learned from a 5th grade wanna be beauty queen.

Life Lessons I Learned From The Movies

movie-theater

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.” James Joyce

Last week was exciting. I gave my first Ignite presentation. For those of you who have  not heard of Ignite it is a presentation about any topic you like but the “rules” are it must be only 5 minutes and 20 slides at 15 seconds per slide (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignite_(event). Preparing for this I thought about my goal for 2013 blogging  to share posts around the life lessons I have learned over the years. That is, significant events in my life and what I learned from them. With that in mind my presentation was title “Life Lessons I Learned From the Movies.”

Growing up, my mother worked outside the home, very common today but not exactly common place in the 50’s. Some of my most vivid memories are from when she ran the concession stand at the local movie theater.  We, my two brothers my sister and I, were fortunate because we got in to the movies for free. This was something we certainly took advantage of and you could normally find us spending Saturday afternoons at the matinée. My favorite movies included horror films, not because there was anything particularly interesting to me in them, but because they scared the heck out of my little sister. You need to understand that both my older and younger brother were typical boys and they would rather be dragged through cold mud than be seen sitting in the movie theater with either of their sisters. Thus it fell to me as the older sibling to sit with my little sister in the theater. Please don’t think I am too very cruel, she is only a few years younger than I, but you know for all of our sisterly love today the early years were another matter. She was the sibling we all loved to tease because she would scream and cry at the sight of an ant. So picture her beside me in the theater at my film genre of choice — oh how her screams of fear filled me with childish delight. It was a good thing that we got in to see the movie for free because my sister surely only saw half of it and that through her fingers.  I rationalized my behavior by letting her know that this helped to “toughen her up for life and have no fear!”  I will say that today she learned her lessons well. She has traveled all over the world and spends her winters diving in the Cayman’s. One could ask where I went wrong that she has the adventurous life today?

Many other movies had an impact on the person I am today. One from those early formative years included Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life.” I remember being fascinated by the thought of the hidden impact we have on the world around us.  I would like to think that the lesson I learned from this was to keep in mind as I travel through life to leave a positive impactful trail.  A simple example of this might be a recent shopping trip to my favorite retail establishment, “Le Targe`'” better known to you as the local Target store.  As I was waiting in line to check out, the customer in front of me was a bit disgruntled for some reason and was taking it out on the young clerk. As she left and he proceeded to ring up my purchases the smile on his face had faded.  I noticed his name tag read “Wolfgang.” So I asked him if his friends called him “Wolfie?” He replied that, “yes they do.” With a smile I said that Wolfgang was a big name to live up to and he replied that it was an old family name. His smile had returned by this time and as I finished loading my purchases into my cart I smiled at him and said “thanks Wolfie, see you next week.” As I left the store I looked back and noticed that the smile had returned to Wolfie’s face and he was cheerfully ringing up the next customer.

It only takes a few minutes to make a positive or negative impact. I’d like to think I leave more of the former than the latter.

More next post on other movies that have molded the person I am today, but until then think about the trail you leave through your life. It’s not too late to start making conscious positive impressions. Even the smallest thing can change the world. Well at least that’s what I believe.

Elephant Soup Anyone?

elephantsoup

 

 

 

 

 

 

One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know. Groucho Marx

As I was getting ready for work this morning my husband mentioned that you could tell how busy I had been with work because I have not posted anything yet this month. Of course he was right as he always is or at least likes to think he is when he gives me advice. As I was driving to the office, I pondered a bit on my busyness. These past weeks have gone by in a bit of a blur. When I reflect on what I have been doing I see it as trying to eat an elephant. I love this analogy as it says it all. The work project I am focused on has many moving parts and at times has seemed like a wooly mammoth.  But when faced with something as large and important as this, I just need to step back and remember, “when eating an elephant take one bite at a time” (Creighton Abrams).

Analyzing the project and determining for the milestones what the key tasks are to make those significant milestones happen on time was the first bite. The second bite got a bit easier to define and swallow. Just brainstorming with the team and getting down on paper those things that needed to be in place in order for us to be able to consume the elephant bite by bite has helped to alleviate the project stress.

I have found that it is very easy in our agile development environment to get so heads down focused on what has to happen to make each weeks sprint deadline, that we can easily lose sight of where we are at for achieving the end goal – eating the entire elephant.  We get lost wading through the elephant dung instead of jumping up and making sure we are really eating part of the elephant itself. Can you tell I love this analogy?

The teams dining on this elephant are talented, capable, and have a big appetite. They just need a few Tums once in a while.  Well, I guess that must make me the Antacid of Development. Hopefully, I am not seen as the cause of their heartburn.

The essence of our agile Development methodology, SCRUM, is to break down the project into small deliverables (stories) that can be achieved in a short time frame (sprint) to demonstrate progress. It’s those little bites of the elephant that we nibble away at every week. When faced with what can seem an insurmountable task, whether it is a wooly mammoth or just an ordinary elephant, stepping back and breaking it down into bite size chunks is the only way to really finish the job. It can just be a bit overwhelming if we don’t look up once in a while and gauge the progress we have made and understand whether we’ve still got only 4 legs and the tail left or if we have only taken a bite out of the rump.

For those of you familiar with SCRUM you might ask why the burn down chart does not show us this. But if you have lived in a SCRUM world you also know that sometimes the burn down chart becomes a burn up chart or in other words the elephant grew a new tusk along the way. Controlling this during the sprint cycle is the key to success for the project.  Being agile means letting the elephant grow a bit or change color but still gnawing away at it.

By now you probably think that this is all elephant dung, but it’s my story for why I have not been posting as faithfully as I would have liked so far this year.   I am confident that we can eat this elephant and I will wade out of the dung and post more diligently.one_bite1

You Are What You Were When…

childrenin48

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving…and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.” Louisa May Alcott

Here it is the end of January already, where does the time go? While I have not been posting I have been thinking about it a lot. Today, this last day in January, I decided it was time to put my blogging commitment down in writing.  Time always goes faster than I would like it. Tomorrow is here before you even knew yesterday ended. This year my posts will follow a more “pre-determined” pattern. Each month I will commit to sharing a bit more about my life experiences and what I have learned from them.  This decision came from remembering some training I attended early in my managerial career. Some of you may have heard of the term “you are what you were when.”  I paraphrased this term from my early managerial training in the 80’s created by a sociologist, Morris Massey.  The basic premise behind this is we are all shaped by the world around us. If you examine your values, the generation you were born in, and the Significant Emotional Events in your life you will come to better understand the person you are today. Understanding the major periods in your life and the events that impact them will not only give you a better understanding of yourself but also help you understand others.

With all this in mind, I will walk you through my generation and the events that I think significantly influenced my value system.  As we travel this journey together, I will share with you the lessons I learned at each cross-road and how that lesson continues to influence my values today.

For this post, I’ll give you what I consider a roadmap in my own words taken from Massey’s work. I encourage you as we travel along together to review your individual journey to the destination of becoming the person you are today.

On this roadmap, there are three major periods or stops as I will call them. These periods Massey attributes to forming the values we have today.  They are the imprint period, the modeling period, and the socialization period.  I will take the liberty of describing these, they are the sponge, the copycat, and the influenced times in our lives. This early shaping of our values systems stays with us for life and the only thing that can change it is a significant emotional event. This last can be the loss of a job, a divorce, the loss of a loved one, or anything that rocks our world.  I have listed the negative significant emotional events, but these can be positive as well. I see each of these events as a cross-road for me in my life.

As I continue to post you will come to know where my value system comes from when I visited the sponge, stopped at the Copycat Inn, and landed under the influence. As I arrived at each cross-road along the way I will try to explain how I see the impact that had on my life.  At each of these stops I will try to explain what I learned that I carry along with me to this stop in the road that is today.

So put on your walking shoes and get out your hiking stick, we’re in for a long journey.

“Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us and those around us more effectively. Look for the learning.” Louisa May Alcott

Year End Reflections

reflectionlearn

 

 

 

 

“I’m not smart. I try to observe. Millions saw the apple fall but Newton was the one who asked why.” ~ Bernard Mannes Baruch

 

 

As most are doing this time of year, I am taking time this week to reflect on 2012. I think reflection is important for growth. Reviewing the past twelve months and analyzing both the good things and the things that I would do different gives me an opportunity to learn from myself. Clearing the decks and taking an objective look at not only what happened but also what could have happened lets me form a plan for what areas I should focus on for both personal and professional growth.

I have found that it helps to have a plan for how to review the past year. I try to keep my emotions out of the picture (not easy especially for me).  I start by asking myself a few questions and when the answers are less than positive, I look for the why and what I will try to do different next time. Just to get started I ask myself the four “C’s.”

  1. Have I always communicated clearly?
  2. Have I been consistent in my approach and messaging?
  3. Have I sought clarity before offering a contribution?
  4. Have I been kind?   I know this last is not a “C” but close enough and I think it is the most      important question.

Let’s start with communication. Have I always communicated clearly? I have found in reflection that I use email as a crutch to shore up my hatred of the phone. There are many reasons why I hate the phone but I won’t bore you with them, let’s just say I find it a challenging medium and would rather speak in person or even over Skype than entertain the disembodied voice over the phone. Many times it takes much more effort to communicate clearly in an email then it would to just pick up the phone and have a quick one to one conversation.  Other email missteps I discovered included the tendency to copy “dad” when I am not getting what I need from my email recipient. This is not only ineffective but definitely takes a toll on the coins in the old emotional bank account. So with that in mind, what will I do differently in 2013? First and easiest I will vow to curb my tendency to copy anyone unless they really need to know.  Secondly I will make sure I have everyone’s Skype contact and either use that or pick up the dreaded headset and call when a quick one on one conversation will get closure faster. Okay, that gives me something to work on for this “C.”

Have I been consistent with my approach and message? When I look at how consistent I have been with my approach and messaging, I think I have done a pretty good job. If those of you who interact with me frequently feel differently, please let me know where you think I have room for improvement. So for this “C” I will continue to do as I have been doing and move on to other areas where I have more “opportunity” to grow.

Now comes the big one for me. Have I sought clarity before offering a contribution? This will probably always be an area of focus for me just because of my personality. That said, it does not mean I cannot improve. I think that just acknowledging that this is a challenge for me helps me to temper my need to jump in and solve the problem before seeking clarity.  Well, at least that is what I would like to think, but in reflection I can see that I still have a long way to go. What I will specifically do differently in 2013 is first when in meetings allow others to state the problem as they see it and then make sure that we all are on the same page about what we are trying to solve. Second, I will then solicit thoughts and ideas from others on what they think the solutions could be. Lastly, I will offer my thoughts but only after everyone else has their opportunity to give input. Now for me this very difficult. I like to see myself as a problem solver and want to get to the solution quickly. I would ask for your support and patience as I work on this area.

On to the fourth “C,” have I been kind?  All of us I am sure like to think we are kind to others, but how many of us have had those “unkind” thoughts? While in a face to face interaction we might on the surface be taking what we perceive to be a kind approach, our thoughts tell another story. When I review my “thoughts” over this past year, I can honestly say that for certain individuals I have let my thoughts cause some deterioration of my working relationships. It is not really possible to like everyone nor even respect their approach, but we can be kind. By this I mean we can give them the benefit of the doubt, cut them some slack, keep our assumptions locked in the closet, and move forward with kind thoughts.  What always resonates with me is this following quote.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

With all of this in mind, I am going to harness my thoughts and filter them with kindness.

Well I can see that I have my work cut out for me this year.  I am going to print out my resolutions and post them where I can see them daily.  This last is what I find helps me keep on track. Now that you know my resolutions, how about yours? Your questions might be different, but I encourage you to reflect and set a few goals for yourself. Be sure to post them where you can have a daily reminder.

Happy New Year!

Is S.M.A.R.T. Really Smart?

goalssmart

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
Henry David Thoreau

 

Well it’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s time for the New Year’s resolutions and the annual goal setting exercise here at work.  The first is no easier than the second, but I am usually better at the second probably because they are S.M.A.R.T. In any case I do both with all of the best intentions. When I read this post today titled, “Consider Not Setting Goals in 2013,” http://blogs.hbr.org/bregman/2012/12/consider-not-setting-goals-in.html  I was all in!

I found it interesting to read about some of the side effects of having goals. It seems that there has been a working paper created, Goals Gone Wild http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6114.html , by some folks at the Harvard Business School. With that prestigious school behind it who could argue with the side effects they list that include a “reduced intrinsic motivation. “   I certainly can attest to that, because every year I set a goal to lose weight, eat healthier, and exercise more only to find that I have packed on another ten pounds, ordered pizza on yet another Friday night, and slept in all week-end instead of taking my vowed 4 mile walk. It’s got to be the goals that did it. Who knew?

Why they even list some very dangerous repercussions of poorly focused goals (read the article you’ll see). Unfortunately I can list a couple of these myself, which goal wins, release dates? Or quality? Or customer satisfaction with features? Just like we all have been cautioned by our parents along the way to “be careful what you wish for” we should also add to that “be careful what those S.M.A.R.T. goals bring with them.”

Like the author, I wondered how we would get anything accomplished without clear goals, but unlike the author I don’t think that just concentrating on an “area of focus” takes the place of clearly aligned goals.  What we have moved toward around here is a goal setting template that includes a column to list the performance outcome. This more clearly defines what the expected impact of the goal will be and is a part of the measurement criteria. I think that this along with understanding that meeting my S.M.A.R.T. goals is not the complete scope of my job helps to balance the cause/effect dichotomy illustrated in the study.

With that in mind, I will still be creating my New Year’s resolutions and documenting my S.M.A.R.T. goals for 2013, but I will be more aware of their potential to have negative repercussions. Yes, I know you are going to ask if I am still going to have the weight, eat, exercise resolutions and the answer will be affirmative. However, these resolutions will go a bit differently I will eat healthier because it will make me feel better and if I feel better I will want to exercise more often and if I exercise more often I will lose weight and if I lose weight my Estrogen storage will decrease and I will lower my risk of recurrence of breast cancer. So how’s that for something to get me motivated? I’ll let you know at the end of 2013 how it has worked for me.

As for my professional goals, they are still a work in progress, but you can be sure that they will be S.M.A.R.T. and focused on positive results.

Care to share your main goal for 2013?

The Reflection In The Mirror

mirrorkitten

 

 

 

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
Carl Jung
This week I faced a leadership challenge that rocked my view of my abilities as a leader and mentor. It caused me to take a bit of time to reflect on the person that I see in the mirror. Let me start at the beginning. I’m working with some newly formed teams. We are in the process of getting to know each other.  There has been a major reorganization of staff and many report to a new manager.  We are working on challenging projects, learning new tools, and developing supporting processes. With this in mind, when I heard that a manager had rather bluntly given some negative feedback from me to a new staff member, I took a deep breath and decided to first assume that they had the best intentions. This meant that I needed to not jump to the conclusion that what I had heard was accurate.  I find that these topics are best confronted quickly by having a candid one on one conversation.  I set up a meeting with the manager to discuss the interaction. When we met I was impressed with the approach that they said they had taken to give the feedback to their employee and found that the communication I had received was not entirely accurate.

Right about now you are probably asking yourself what rocked me about this conversation.  I handled it well, I think, and my fellow manager had handled the situation very well from how they told me they had approached the topic with the employee.

The earthquake came later as I reflected on the incident overall and thought about other feedback I had been receiving about the team’s feelings toward my interactions with them. While in this case the information I had received was not entirely accurate, what it did point out for me is that there was an undercurrent of discomfort and confusion within the team. I had to ask myself what part I was playing in this confusion. It was my attempt to answer this question that shook up my perception of myself. In trying to see myself through the eyes of these new team members, I realized that I was not seeing reflected back the leader and mentor that I see in the mirror each morning. Now I was faced with the challenge of trying to build the image of myself that I want others to see.

The first step I decided was to apologize for any confusion that I had caused and clarify my requests by explaining “why” I was making them.  With that behind me, I then communicated my overall role in the projects and what success looked like for me and why what I was doing was important for the business, the project, and hopefully overall for them and their success.    The last step has been for me to reflect on what I could do differently in the future.  This is where I need your help.  I like to think that “to know me is to love me and if you don’t love me you just don’t know me well enough yet.” So how do I get people to know me better? How do I get a lot of coins into their emotional bank account quickly?

After you give me your sage advice, then I have a task for you. Look into the eyes of your team and do you see the same reflection back that you see in your mirror every morning?  Do you see that confident leader that you know you are and if not what are you going to do about it?

Nurture Your Uniqueness!

 

 

 

 

 

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. Margaret Mead

The mythical Eierlegendewollmilchsau was first introduced to me by a German friend.   As you can see, this is a strange-looking but fascinating creature. The EggWoM (my acronym for Egg laying, Wool bearing, Milk giving) now symbolizes for me many things. These range from an over featured product to someone who claims to have every talent or skill imaginable.   Now you might ask why I decided to share this weird creature with you.  It’s because I think we can all use a new word in our vocabulary.

I have even found multiple occasions to use this recently. During a project scope review, I asked if we were trying to build an EggWoM. I thought that this was a great way to nicely ask if we were going overboard on the feature set. Why were we going to build a mansion when our customers were just asking for a cabin in the woods?   The second time I was able to bring out my EggWoM was while reviewing a Vice-President position that had been posted.  There were so many varied and opposing skills listed that it seemed as if only an EggWoM could apply.

Now that I reflect on this a bit more, I realize that I may be an EggWoM.  Well not in this mythical creature sense, but when I look at my many varied skills, talents and experiences I realize that I too may be a bit of an odd creature.   How often do you find someone who has a degree in Accounting but really has an inner geek love for building software?  And how often do you find a self-avowed extreme introvert who loves to get up in front of a group and share agile software development experiences or sing a tune?  Or when was the last time you met someone who has butchered meat for a living and led a software development team?  Oh and not to forget, someone who has completed eight marathons, three triathlon, and swam with sharks? Now that should make for a real EggWoM!

EggWoM’s aside, we are all a combination of many and varied skills and experiences. I guess that is what makes each of us unique and special.  I will continue to nurture my inner EggWoM and encourage you to do so as well. Get out there and add to your uniqueness, build a skill, learn something new, do something exciting!