Valuable Meetings

Meetings. How many of them can be changed, disregarded, and not even attended? Can one spend their time on more valuable work?

Automatically as I was writing this my only focus was on work type meetings, as those seem to be the least edifying and the most wasteful. Meetings can be beneficial:

  • Casual meetings to build relationships
  • Informational meetings to build up knowledge
  • Crisis meetings to solve urgent and hard problems
  • Regular meetings that have outcomes that are action oriented
  • Impromptu meetings that spark ideas

So not all meetings are monsters that feed on time and energy. Just ones that are poorly run.

A Proper Response

Having the right response to others makes collaboration much easier.

  1. Is it constructive or destructive?
  2. Is it positive or negative?
  3. Is it selfish or selfless?
  4. Is it based upon principle and values over compromise for short term gain?

Each interaction has the ability to be a one of a kind unique and edifying experience. Where there is thoughtfulness before the response, the outcome is usually one where both parties gain and not lose. A quick checklist to run down in your mind before answer could be:

  • Am I responding according to principles and values?
  • Am I adding to the conversation or other person?
  • Is my focus on my fellow collaborator(s) instead of self-ego?
  • What are the right words for me to use to deliver positivity?

Uncomfortable

Being uncomfortable gets my Spidey senses going. It is uncanny how I can see problems with much more clarity. The smallest details become chasms that I need to conquer or cross. Now combine being uncomfortable with new surroundings. It is like when Superman first discovers his superpowers of seeing everything blurring by and he can’t take it all in till he focuses.

This is me now, with a new job and different environment. Here are steps I am taking for better clarity that may help you.

  • Slow down. Not everything has to be solved right away.
  • Find those who are comfortable already. Listen to what works for them. Be careful not to assimilate and look for opportunities to add value to their processes.
  • Know the long term vision. Keep referring to it as you are doing day to day work. Remove the work that doesn’t progress toward the vision.
  • Embrace mistakes as valuable lessons.
  • Be bold and courageous in your decision making.

Be comfortable with uncomfortable.

Weeds and Software

Saturday morning weeding has turned into a quick 1 hour endeavor which I share with my wife.  There was one area I neglected for about a month though and figured I would tackle it head on.  As I was digging and pulling, similarities of software that has been neglected started coming to mind.

  • The more time that you let weeds grow, the harder they become to pull out.  The tiny thistle for instance, can be quickly grabbed just below the surface and usually the root just comes straight out with it.  I often see code that may not be optimal get reused and reused because no one wanted to refactor it.  The next thing you know you have a very stubborn area of your code that you will need to clean up
  • The sprawling weeds. These are the ones that don’t have a lot of roots but they pop up all over the place as little nuisances.  I liken this to inline styles in html, or a set of code that get’s copied over and over again with comments and all just to change a variable.  Pretty soon, it becomes a mess when you need to change it all up.
  • The worst are those weeds that infiltrate the root system of the good plants.  In software, you can see this manifest as design pattern overload or global variables (I hope no one does that anymore).

What are the weeds in your software?

The Balance of Self-Promotion

The older I get, the less I relish instant gratification, acknowledgement, and self-promotion.

Maybe I just feel confident in my abilities (warning: pride setting in) or apathetic to false platitudes.

Could it be that it isn’t that important anymore? The effort I put into promoting my work could be better spent elsewhere adding even more value. Surely this doesn’t cross the line of arrogance or egocentric behavior.

Reality check:

  1. We only promote work that seems sensational. Maybe that is why day to day operations work gets overlooked. Find a way to show that value through metrics and measurement.
  2. We should promote work for awareness as our primary motivator.
  3. Don’t spend hours on slide decks, when you can sum it up in a few short sentences.
  4. Realize promoting work is a tool to inform, enhance, and engage with your audience.
  5. Be humble in the promotion. Give credit to others who came along side, influenced, and sweated over the work.

Monday Thirst Quenchers – Post 01.03

The Leadership Freak – Dan Rockwell

This is one blog I follow because of it’s simplicity and insightfulness.  The archives have exceptional advice leadership principles.

Manager Tools

The manager tools hall of fame podcasts give managers and individual contributors tools and step-by-step guidance on all areas of management in the workplace.

Dan Meyer’s – dy/dan Blog

Maybe it is my general curiosity for learning.  Maybe it is the fact that Dan is a leader in shaping Mathematics education for future generations.  Maybe it is just that I like Math.  Dan’s posts are more than math, they are thought provoking articles designed for the reader to discover by asking questions, rather than just read the answers.  Here is a specific blog on personalized learning.

 

Perception – You Are What Other People See

Probably the biggest battle I fight is one of perception with other people.  Why is this a battle? Mostly because I let my selfish side take over my actions, instead of being mindful of how my actions affect others.  I make excuses about this behavior to appease my ego, pride, and sense of accomplishment.  No excuses justify my actions of self-preservation.  I need to rely on the Creator to give me grace and mercy when I fail.

those who never read the Bible will read our lives, so it is by doing good that we put to silence the ignorance of foolish men – David Guzik (1 Peter 2 Commentary)

I heard this quote in Sunday’s sermon and spent some time in introspection.  Working with teams, coaching and mentoring, I often talk about the value of introspection.  As Christians, this is a habit that we must cultivate for several reasons:

  1. People see how we behave every day.  We are representatives of the Kingdom.  If we live “ordinary” and “worldly” lives, the witness does not match our faith.  Remember one day ordinary will be eternity in heaven worshipping our Lord.
  2. I look backwards to understand how I can create opportunities to share Christ’s love through me going forward.
  3. As Christians, if we are growing, we are changing.  Change brings about character through perseverance, especially during struggles.  Look back on the struggle and share the lessons of maturing in Christ.
  4. Are you lukewarm? Who would people rather hang around with, the milk toast or the magnet. Christians are a peculiar people.  I have gone from being a person might only give a passing comment so as not to be looked at funny to being a fan of my Master interjecting the good news intentionally in my actions.  I am finding that the differing attitudes, principles, and foundation in Christ draws people near.

I am excited to see other people now looking at me differently.  I am not ashamed of being gracious, loving, caring, humble, meek and having a servant’s heart.  The perception is changing and it is on the right path.  My hope is that people see Christ in me so that they can also establish an eternal relationship.

 

Monday Thirst Quenchers – Post 01.02

Today I thought I would focus on some productivity tools and tips I use with Outlook.

Wunderlist Add-In for Outlook

I have taken an approach where my task list is separated from my email.  Wunderlist includes a great add-in that will turn any email into a task.  In addition, you can subscribe to your task list feed as a calendar list and see what tasks you said were going to be do on any day.

Quick Steps

This is perhaps my favorite part of Outlook for productivity.  Quick steps enable me to quick do repetitive actions and assign them to shortcut keys. For example, I have a folder where I put reference emails.  The quick step has been configured to move the selected item to my “Reference” folder.  I then bind that quick step to CTL+SHFT+1 and voila, I can get through my inbox to zero real quick.

Mailbox Rules

Unlike quick steps, rules allow you to manage emails before you even see them in your inbox, or process after you send an email.  For instance, you can create a rule that delays sending by 1 minute.  I currently have over 20 rules that apply to my inbox before email even comes in.  My favorite:  Moving all of my meeting requests to a special folder for processing.

Two Outcomes of Fear

Today on a podcast of Design Matters,  Seth Godin was talking about the reason so many people are blocked from moving forward is because of fear.  I started thinking about the fear in my life and how it is very selfish and created because I want people to have a certain perception of me.  Going a little deeper, I believe there actually two outcomes of fear:

  1. Fear of something creates a healthy reverence and respect.
  2. Fear creates moments or even seasons of paralysis.

In the season of life I am in, I often see the second outcome, paralysis.  I fear changing my job role, stability for my family, not leaving a legacy for others, etc.  Then I realized as long I fear the Lord with whole hearted reverence and respect, I have the best advocate for helping me out of those moments when I am frozen in place by indecision, doubt, and selfishness.