Happy New Year!
When I started writing a blog about a year-and-a-half ago, I have to admit I was scared…
Scared to put myself out there.
But, through gentle prodding from my coach, I got into a new early morning routine and after these many months, I have to admit it’s been fun and rewarding.
One of the best parts of that quiet early morning hour I take each day is that it has really made me think - think about what I can write that might help someone.
So today, I want to share (for the very first time – Woo-hoo! - Drum roll please) my 10 best articles, based on their popularity.
From their humble beginnings as posts on my website, these articles have been shared on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google + and more. People have tweeted about them and shared them.
And then there are the comments. Thanks to all of you who take a moment to say something. I really appreciate that.
While no one tends to make critical comments, I want you to know I’d be ok with those too.
Because those are the ones that help me get better.
In 2018, I’ll continue to write about teamwork, collaboration and leadership because I am curious about those things and am always looking for the magic that happens when those things are working at their best.
So here we go with My 10 Best Articles of 2017.
Well, that’s it.
My final post of 2017.
I can’t believe I am saying such a thing.
Two years ago, I didn’t even have one post, and when the idea was suggested to me that I start blogging, I found the thought over-whelming.
I remember thinking to myself back then, “I’m a musician, not a writer”. I can’t write a weekly blog. Now it has become a regular part of my business, a regular part of my routine.
I’d be lying if told you I just sit down and pour out reams of excellent thoughts and ideas. It still takes work and lots of thinking. That’s because this blog is not just for me, it’s also for you. I really want it to help you in some way.
So in today’s post, I want to encourage you to do something you haven’t done before, something you might think is beyond you, something you’d like to reach for.
It’s at this time of year that we think about such things. It’s the time of year when we take stock and make plans.
Making plans is not always easy. There’s a lot that can get in the way but it’s usually one big obstacle - ourselves!
But there’s a way to use ourselves to overcome ourselves and here’s how…
It started when you were really young.
That fear of admitting you did something wrong.
It was always tempting to cover it up because you learned quickly that doing something wrong usually came with consequences. Most likely, you got a talking to at the very least.
Then there was school. You occasionally did things that were wrong at school, and now they were on paper.
They were called mistakes, and they were often circled in the dreaded red pen.
It makes sense that a test would sit in your bag for a few days waiting for just the right moment to be shown to your parents - when they were too busy to really look at it.
There’s never been anything fun about admitting your mistakes.
But making mistakes just might be the most valuable thing that we can do for ourselves.
I have spent a lifetime on teams --except I never called them teams.
The word “team” has a bit of a sports feel to it, and I was in the music world. So the “teams” I worked with were bands, ensembles, orchestras, theatre companies, quartets, and quintets.
Same idea though - they were groups – groups of people working towards a common goal.
Bosses, coaches, managers go to great lengths to assemble “teams” of people that they think will win, i.e. bring in the most profits, make sales, solve a problem, help them reach a goal.
But we know that despite the best efforts of those folks, not all teams are created equal.
So whenever I come across one that is working really well, I like to explore how they do it.
Recently I came across a team that did do what they were supposed to do in a very unlikely part of the world and in a very challenging situation.
Everything I read on-line before I left home said not to do it.
Every local person I met when I was there said not to do it.
They all said the same thing, “If you weren’t born and raised here, don’t drive here”.
This is all that was going through my head as the day came when we were going to pick up our rental car.
I had already been in Sorrento, Italy for 4 days, watching, examining, trying to find the secret of their traffic flow.
I did my research from the sidewalk or within the safe confines of a car complete with a hired driver when we were on an excursion.
With him at the wheel, I saw large tour buses shave by on the beautiful yet treacherous Amalfi coast. I observed Vespa after Vespa appear and disappear beside us like mosquitoes buzzing past our ears as we wormed our way through the constantly winding roads. Stop signs were merely suggestions as traffic seemed to mix together like water merging from different streams.
These were the thoughts going through my head as I sat there signing the forms linking my credit card to the responsibility of my driving this car. Extra insurance, she asked. Yes, I nodded.
Yup. I was worried. I had anxiety. And then she gave me the keys.
Happy New Year! Well sort of…
I think it safe to say that this time of year has a new-beginning feel to it.
In some ways, it’s even more obvious than the official New Year, which is more about a date changing on a calendar.
For most people, this time of year is about things starting again. Our weather can start to turn, the leaves begin to change colour, the air starts to feel a little different, and my favourite thing… school starts again.
But this is the best one: You and the people you work with have had a bit of a break.
You and the people you work with have had a chance for some renewal, a chance for some re-vitalization, re-invigoration, have taken the time for a bit of a pause and reset, have perhaps taken some time for reflection.
That why this time of year is so great for building relationships with people. It’s a great time to build trust.
Maybe you’re a bit like me in that you’re pretty independent when it comes to doing your job.
After all, you and I have spent years becoming proficient, knowledgeable and responsible in order to be able to do what we do.
There’s a certain satisfaction, a sense of pride, when you can do things without relying on others.
As children, we were taught to be self-reliant – strong and capable. And it’s still going strong. Google “children and self–reliance” and you’ll see there are reams of information on how to create an independent child.
Then there are the quotes we often hear that re-enforce the necessity of being self-reliant.
“If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.” Napoleon Bonaparte
You usually hear this when someone is complaining about a task they entrusted to someone else that didn’t go so well.
“Survival of the fittest” – This is a phrase that originated from Darwinian evolutionary theory, inviting us to make ourselves the brightest and the best in order to succeed.
“No one can really pull you up very high - you lose your grip on the rope. But on your own two feet, you can climb mountains. “ Louis Brandeis
You get the idea.
But there’s a downside to all this.
Sometimes we can be too independent, so much so that it costs us.
On a recent Sunday I found myself sitting in a church.
My church attendance could be referred to as spotty at best, and my religious education as a child was practically non-existent. So when I find myself in church, it is usually as a tag along because I have been gently prodded to attend with others who wish to go, as I was recently.
When I go, I tend to be more of an observer than a fully engaged participant. I also think we could all use a little more thoughtful reflection in our lives and churches can be a good place for that, no matter the religion.
Interestingly this time though, my take-away from this particular visit had nothing to do with the sermon but everything to do with the people who were there.