“Unrush” Me.

Since I was 16 years old, this is the first time I have not worked over the holiday months. In a break between jobs, I decided I was going to use this space to take a good look at my career, what I want to do, where I want to be and how am I going to be a 106better leader. Here are a few of my thoughts.

  1. Be the boss.  I have been working long hours for years. In this time of reflection I realize that my success, stamina, resiliency and attitude are directly correlated to the investment in my own health. My best work has come when I was sleeping enough, working out regularly and eating well. When I let those things slide, it impacts much more than my waist line!
  2. Be present. Our lives get filled up with meetings, projects and to-dos. In the press of it all, we lose connection to this moment. A bleary eyed, worn and stressed professional cannot recognize or enjoy the truly memorable micro-moments of our own lives, let alone that of our teams or customers. Being present takes discipline and practice, but it can help reduce stress, help us connect more meaningfully to one another and can inspire new ways of seeing our business, work and life.
  3. “Unrush” me. We are always pushing for more, newer, faster, better. But, we can’t force innovation and just trying harder doesn’t help. Sometimes we need to be willing to slow down.Whether it’s time off, free space in your calendar, going for a walk or just leaving the project alone for a bit, by “unrushing” we give innovation time to settle in and new ideas to take shape.
  4. Keep learning.  In my busy professional life, I intended to make room for reading, learning, classes or training. I snuck a few opportunities in, but my jam-packed schedule made learning feel self-indulgent and wasteful. I’m reminded how beneficial a few hours a week to read, take an online course or listen to a webinar can be to provide fresh perspective on your work. It’s not selfish, it’s actually very smart and a great way to remain even more effective in your work.

This time of rest and reflection has shown me how I can be a better employee and marketing leader. You don’t have to have weeks off, but maybe over the holidays, you can “unrush” a little and take some time to refresh your mind, spirit and body! Happy Holidays. Cheers to a fabulous and successful 2017!

 

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Unforgettable

20160713_190659-1Today I knew it would be the last time I got to see my dad on this earth. I just knew it. I got there literally two minutes too late.

The sweet nursing staff were holding him and saying their goodbye when I got there. He looked so frail, so different, like nothing he is in my minds eye. I had planned to sing to him today.  The only song he ever heard me sing…. unforgettable. Cause he is that to me and he made me feel that way to him.

I can picture him talking like Donald Duck and me laughing every single time, like it was the first. Or blowing smoke rings…that was so cool to stick my little finger through it. Or teaching us to fly fish…or pheasant hunt. Yay we never got a thing, but I remember the attempts and how patient he was with the two youngest noise makers ruining his quiet and scaring away his game. He never said a word about it.

As a dad he gave everything he could. Not perfect. But who is? He proudly served our country for 23 years, through two awful wars, left his family over and over again for all of us. Worked hard his whole life. Mom did her best at home with 8, then 7, then 6. Now almost sixty years later, she sits in confusion and heart ache again. My heart hurts for her.

Loss is not easy. Ever. But dad I’m glad you’re in peace and hanging with Jeff and Susan tonight. I hope you’re singing a good song. I miss you. 

…that’s why darling, it’s incredible that someone so unforgettable thinks that I am unforgettable too…

 

 

 

Busyness & Connection Can Not Coexist.

IMG_6672 (3)What is it about being busy that is acceptable…almost glorified?  You can’t take time to read a great new article at work, you should do that on your “own time”. At home the list of chores and things to do are endless enough to busy me until I drop. But I’m tired, so tired.

And when I examine that tiredness, I realize somewhere along the line, I adopted a definition of worth based on busyness. If I am busy and productive, then I am something. Really something.

Digging a little deeper, I realize the shame in being perceived as lazy, slow, unproductive. It’s my blind belief in shame that keeps me from sitting, enjoying, reading, writing, just being with those who mean the most to me. Instead, I fuss, fix, clean and drive separation from the very thing my heart longs for….connection.

When I’m honest, it’s true connection that means the most to me. It’s the thing that memories are made of. It’s where I’m fully alive, have impact, create my best work, it’s where I can change the world. That kind of connection takes courage and vulnerability. That kind of connection can not coexist with busyness.

So in a commitment to myself and to those around me who mean so much, I intend to do whole lot more of enjoying the moment.

 

Green Corduroy and Jumping Castles

I’m turning fifty. FIF-TEE. FITTY. 5-O.

Of course there should be a big party. My twin and I have not had a party together since we were 12. Oh I remember, an all green outfit and the matching gold Schwinn bicycles. Yep, grass green corduroy pants and a matching grass green t-shirt with a white piping on the collar – like nothing that has ever been stylish – then or now.

And the bikes – full size adult bikes so we could grow in to them, were metallic gold in color. My twin and I have literal scars to show for our mastery of those bikes that were the wheels to our freedom around the mobile home park my parents owned at the time. My brother’s had the cool bar that went straight across to indicate it was a “boy’s” bike. Mine, no bar, it was a “girl’s” bike. The seats were so tall we have to use the tips of our shoes to pedal, to balance, to start.

My twin was a pretty scrawny 12 so I can picture it clear as a photograph. The pedals set exactly so with the right one in the up position. His right leg thrown over the bar to his knee and then bouncing on the tip toe of his left foot as he tried to get momentum, he would shift his weight over and put his foot on the right pedal long enough to be standing on the pedals to ride. That’s the thing, he had to stand to ride that bike for a while. That boy’s bike nearly ruined his budding man-ness a few times, but boy did we do a lot of mileage on those two gold bikes.

Fast forward many years…we’re turning fitty. The old dude refused to do a jumping castle birthday with me. I guess he’s too afraid to get hurt…go figure.

So, bocce it is. Reserved for the ancient and ailing, but surrounded by those we love, beer and great food. Happy 50th Birthday ol boy! You know I love you like a twin!

 

If the past shows up, sometimes you just have to run!

cropped-shedding-light-on-the-past.jpgWe were in the airport walking calmly and suddenly I choke, make a small shrieking sound and grab my hubby’s hand. Our pace picks up as I try to breathe and not bust into a full run. He is obviously confused. “Don’t look!” I semi-shout in my hushed, panicked voice. At which people, including my hubby, automatically look. “Don’t look!” I insist and pick up the pace even faster. I know it’s not the most intelligent or mature response, but sincerely, I completely understand “fight or flight” at that moment in a deep, personal way like Biology 103 could never have taught! I get it. Run or ….RUN! OMG Run!

Good news? I outpaced the past in a heartbeat. No chance of it catching me.

A little ashamed of my panic, but I know that this relic from my past was not getting one more moment of my life. Sure, some might observe my minor panic attack as immature, or perhaps in need of deep counseling – fair enough.  But, suffice it to say that I successfully avoided another topic for the first paid session!

I’m telling ya’, Oprah has nothing on me.

 

Losing the Art of Connection

Ah, social media. We’re “connected” all the time. We know all about your dog, your outfits, your new hair style and your relationship status.  We “see” friends and family that we may not have been in the presence of in decades. We support people we’ve never met who 216773_1031748287320_3793_nare a world away and get glimpses into their lives from a digital portal. We peek in on the famous or successful and study their posts or photos for insights. We can engage on the periphery of your life and never have to talk to you.

As a marketing professional, I weary of faceless rants on social media to complain or provide a one-sided story. I tire of the presentations about insights, research and identities. I disdain a world that is so automated, so precise and so technological that our customer is a perfectly served up bundle of data called a “persona” and companies rarely have to personally intersect with humans. Instead we know exactly what you want and like without ever having to talk to you. We design our websites, our slick IVR, form emails and letters and automated service options to meet your specific expectations. We chase you around the internet, we find you on your phone, in email, we “know” all about you, yet I have no idea if you like rain, if you prefer the bus or a car, if you hope to be a teacher or a service professional. I really don’t know much about you at all.

As a leader in a service industry, the one thing that fills my sail, more than anything else, is to hear from the customer themselves. To hear my team take care of them, empathize and work to solve their needs.

I’m a big fan of Human to Human interaction. I wonder how smart we really are…I believe that the organization that figures out this balance is who will ultimately really win.