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Sunday, June 9, 2019

June 2019: Trust, To-Do's and To-Don'ts

My work life was 100% with students for almost 30 years. Summer was often a bittersweet time for me then because they would be SO excited to have time off and assume the same for me. So when they would ask me what my plans were for the summer, I would have to fight hard to not just slump my shoulders and say, "more work!"

So as we approach summer, let's commit to ending work on time as much as possible in order to live into that summertime spirit.  Look for special festivals and events in your community, schedule a walk with a family member or friend after dinner and do your best to eat dinner occasionally outside in the (hopefully) cooling air.

In the meantime, here are my best recommendations for June 2019!

TRUST. I have two very different resources that both speak to the utterly crucial issue of trust:
  1. How Leaders Around the World Build Trust Across Cultures. Harvard Business Review does it yet again with this excellent article. Currently I have one client with offices in four different countries (let's just imagine what it's like to schedule online meetings across time zones that are in total 14 hours apart!), another trying to harmonize leaders from multiple ethnicities and cultures, and yet another with clients around the globe as they seek to promote sustainable practices. ALL of us are working across cultures both locally and globally and simply put, "Many managerial positions require frequent communication with employees from around the world, but building trust across cultures can be difficult. Still, it is vitally important; when individuals trust one another, they can work together effectively regardless of cultural differences.A huge portion of my work involves teaching and training others to learn the soft skills of listening, dealing with conflict, and building teams of very different people. This article does a good job of laying down some key principles. Use it in an executive staff meeting to start a conversation around this important topic.
  2. John Green: Chronic Not Curable. John Green is the author of The Fault in Our Stars. This is a podcast interview from Kate Bowler. I binge-listened to the first season of this podcast on a long hike in Grand Teton National Park last year. I cannot recommend it enough.  If you are not familiar with Kate, here is a description from her website: In 2015, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with Stage IV cancer at age 35. In a New York Times op-ed, I wrote about the irony of being an expert in health, wealth and happiness while being ill. One of the most crucial ways to build trust with someone is to commit to learning how to walk carefully and slowly and persistently with them as they face hardship. Sadly, I have had the privilege of doing this many times through my life and I am most definitely a better person because of it. This podcast does a good job of teaching about how to build trust with someone over the long haul, especially when they are dealing with mental illness.
One of the best things about me is that I am very productive. One of the worst things about me is that I am very productive. Yes, those two work in constant tension. If you ask me to do something, there is a very, very good chance that I will follow through without needing to be reminded. However, I also am essentially compulsive about needing to measure every day's value (work day, weekend, holiday, it doesn't matter) according to how much I am able to accomplish. 

One of the ways this shows itself is  in my constant hunt for the best productivity app. I am always looking for new ways to quantify all the things I need to do, and to maintain the various checklists I am endlessly creating. If you are like me, I HAVE A GREAT APP FOR YOU. It is called Daylio. It is clean and simple and the best part of all is that it is entirely customizable. I'm using it to track some daily habits I want to maintain in terms of health, exercise, and self-care. Let me know if you end up using it. I have already converted my friend Nance to it. Let's start a club!

This is my new favorite phrase! I am not sure who coined it first but it is tremendous. As much as I enjoy my to-do lists (see above), I have also learned over the years which things I will not and cannot do. These are two excellent articles, one geared for self-management and the other for leaders, to understand how to focus.
  1. Is your to-do list making you nuts? Start a to-don’t list instead — with inspiration from author Adam GrantThis is a highly practical and convincing article. I am especially enamoured of point number two. Recently I realized I was using social media to just zone out more than once during my day. I have now decided to only check social media once a day and actually put a timer on for 5 minutes while I do it. See what stands out to you in this article. 
  2. The Work You Must Stop Doing. This blog is barebones, but I like it. This post starts with this: "You're a leader running a business unit, a function, or an entire organization. You know that your job is to put the right people in the right roles, and then create the environment that allows them to do their best work. In this capacity you have plenty of work to do yourself: setting strategy, hiring and firing, coaching and development, obtaining necessary resources, making certain decisions while delegating others, and embodying the culture you wish to foster. But as a leader there is also work you must not do, and if you're like many of my clients, it can be very difficult to stop doing it." Yes. Yes. Yes. 
Final thought.
“Do all the other things, the ambitious things—travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes...but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.”
George Saunders, author 

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share with a friend or colleague. Contact me with feedback or questions at Meanwhile, get outside and enjoy some sunlight!

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