There I was … on the home stretch of a four-mile race. Which, for me, was simply four miles of more-running-than-walking along a river trail with a few hundred other people who were mostly running and trying to get to the end as fast as they could, which was much faster than I was going. As I was looking down at the ground a man passed me saying, “OH – I am so sorry! You had me the whole way!” When I looked up I saw the Finish Line just around the corner. I saw him speed across the Finish Line ahead of me. (NOTE: I use the word “speed” loosely in this case. We were, after all, both near 60 at the time.)
Finish Lines are really important. They give us a destination. They help us measure our progress and know how far we have to go. And they feel really good when we cross them.
I often use racing as a metaphor for life and business: Know what your Finish Line is. Know why you want to cross it. Know how it feels when you do.
As with racing, life often gives us obstacles and challenges. We get worn out. Our feet hurt. We think we can’t get through whatever the hurdle is. The first few miles of a marathon might feel pretty good. But at mile 12 you might think you can’t make it. And at mile 19 you might be ready to quit. What do you do then? If you know how the Finish Line feels you keep going. Maybe you have to change your strategy or your tactics. Maybe you have to walk a little. But you keep going. Because you know how it feels to cross the Finish Line.
Now Joe DeSena has written a whole book using the metaphor of racing to overcome life’s obstacles. SPARTAN UP! is his “take-no-prisoners guide to overcoming obstacles and achieving peak performance in life.” The Spartan Up approach helps you change your frame of reference to view obstacles and difficulties as an opportunity for growth to get to the end; to the Finish Line.
Check out Joe’s book, and contact us at synergize! if you’re interested in Marilyn’s workshop called “Beyond Goal-Setting – What’s holding you back?” We’d love to help you define your Finish Line and what you need along the way to make it to the end.
(The photo above is my daughter, Kali, with my granddaughter, Lilah. Her fourth marathon, Kali had just completed the Richmond Marathon in 3 hours, 55 minutes and 58 seconds, achieving her goal of a “sub-four [hour]” marathon. Kali knows what it feels like to cross the Finish Line and I could not be more proud of her!)
Just about everybody is stressed at this time of year. Maybe the goal isn’t to eliminate the stress, rather to make sure it doesn’t get the best of us.
To that end we are pleased to give you something to think about when it comes to stress. And we’d also love to have you join us at our next Lunch & Learn – Dealing with Holiday (and Everyday!) Stress on Tuesday, December 17, which was rescheduled due to the weather.
“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it.” ~Eckhart Tolle, author, “The New Earth”
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” -William James
“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.”
― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”
― David Mamet, Boston Marriage
“My body needs laughter as much as it needs tears. Both are cleansers of stress.”
― Mahogany SilverRain, Ebony Encounters: A Trilogy of Erotic Tales
“If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.” ― Śāntideva
“If you can change your mind, you can change your life.” ~William James
“Is everything as urgent as your stress would imply?” ~Carrie Latet
Networking. Just seeing the word puts that uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Don’t get me wrong. I love to talk. Just ask my sons who often comment on the fact that I’ve been on the phone for over an hour (and not giving them attention). The fact is that I love to talk to someone I know and have things in common with. Talking with someone that I barely know definitely makes me uneasy. If you are the same way, check out these quick tips.
• Use the person’s name in the conversation. People like to hear their names and helps them to feel comfortable and connected to you. It also helps you to remember their name.
• Think of a few questions ahead of time to ask about the other person? People love having a chance to discuss their passions or their subjects of expertise. Consider questions such as: What brought you to your current position? What do you like to do when you aren’t in the office?
• Listen actively to the other person. A conversation will go nowhere if you are too busy thinking of other things, including what you plan to say next. Listen intently so you’ll be able to identify questions to ask based on the other person’s statements.
• Read the current event section of the newspaper beforehand to be able to discuss a recent event if the conversation slows down.
• Make mental notes of the things the person says to pull from for future conversations. For example, remember that they love coffee (you can suggest to meet at a coffee house next time) or that they are preparing to send their youngest child off to college (the next time you see them you can ask if the transition to college went smoothly).
You may never become a social butterfly, but networking gets easier the more often you do it so practice, practice, practice. So, please consider joining us for our Lunch & Learn on September 17. Marilyn will be presenting Networking for Dummies and there will be time to network with other participates afterwards. We’ll even make it easy and give you things to talk about! You can register at our website!
Gosh – I wish I could take credit for that title … Death by Meeting. Alas, it is the title of a book by Patrick Lencioni, owner of The Table Group and best-selling author / guru of several management books.
But, whether I came up with the catchy title or not, you gotta admit – we’ve all been in meetings like that.
And do we like being in meetings like that?? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Do we tend to fall asleep in meetings like that?? ABSOLUTELY!!!
So what can we do to avoid them (besides hiding under our desks)?
- Understand the purpose of each meeting. This doesn’t just mean “have an agenda” (but having an agenda is a terrific idea). This means “know what you want to accomplish in this meeting.” If it is a weekly staff meeting, what is the purpose of doing this every week? What do you really need to accomplish every week? What are the top two or three issues that must be covered?
- Determine time parameters before the meeting. (And stick to them!) There is absolutely no reason why any meeting – other than strategy planning or team building – should take more than an hour-and-a-half. And most of them should take much less. Just think of how much you could get done if you didn’t waste two hours in a meeting where everybody is falling asleep?!
- Make sure everybody contributes. If you have people sitting there and not saying a word, they are not being present with what’s going on. Remember that you are paying them to be present all day and not just when they feel like it. And how will they know what’s going on if they never say anything? And how will you have any interesting discussions that will keep people awake if some people can get away with not contributing? Well, you just can’t.
- Clarify any decisions that were made before everybody leaves. Then you know you’re all on the same page.
- Review any action items, including who is responsible. Do this before the end of the meeting. Then at the beginning of the next meeting, review the action items again for a status report (HINT: This is (1) one of the reasons to have the meeting, and (2) top of the agenda). This holds people accountable, not to mention that it also ensures things get done.
Meetings really don’t have to be painful and boring. But they do have to be purposeful and meaningful. With a little bit of planning they can get there.
So, what do you do if the person in charge of the meeting doesn’t know these little tips? Well, you can forward this blog (or e-mail me and I’ll do it for you!).
Or, as one of my clients did, read Death by Meeting and pass it around!
I would welcome other thoughts about how to avoid death by meeting …
I discovered recently that when I run I look at the ground. And while it might help me avoid stumbling over a pothole, if I’m looking at the ground that means I’m not really looking at what’s ahead of me. And then I’m not ready for what’s coming.
On my vacation I did a 4 mile race, which means I did a pattern of running for 10 minutes then walking for two minutes. Early in the race I passed an “older” man (who was probably my age – or younger). Apparently he stayed behind me just about the entire way. Hot, dehydrated and tired at the end of the race I was thankful to do a little walk before I would end with a run.
And he passed me, saying, “I’m really sorry! You had me the entire way!”
When I looked up to see him zoom by (zoom, of course, being a relative term) I saw “FINISH” around the corner just yards ahead. It would have been quite easy to see – if I had been looking for it. And it would have been quite easy to finish before him, if I hadn’t lost the momentum by slowing to walk. (He actually came up to me after the race and apologized for beating me!)
What kind of race are you running right now? Where do you want to go? What are you doing to get there? Are you taking time to look up and look ahead at what’s coming? Do you know what might potentially derail you and what might give you joy along the way? Are you visualizing yourself at the finish?
Tunnel vision is very limiting. If we don’t know where we want to go there’s a good chance we won’t get there. But even if we do know where we want to go if we’re not looking for it we might miss it.
So look up. Know where you are. Watch where you’re going. Enjoy each step along the way and appreciate it as moving you one step closer to accomplishing your goal.
If you’re not sure where you’re going, contact me. My Four Steps to Success process provides an excellent framework to help you accomplish your goals.