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Remaining Relevant

August 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Times and expectations are changing, and the need to adapt to continue to remain relevant is now more crucial than ever. Regarding this matter, I’d like to think that I’ve learned a few lessons over the years. There are things we need to do as leaders of our own small niches in this world, and as individual contributors, too, in the pursuit of continuing relevance.

As a leader, we need to have a point-of-view or a plan on what we should do and what we want to do. Of course it’s important to know the organization’s overall goals and objectives. We make our plans based on that, and the particular role we’re asked to play. Don’t depend on upper management to define and detail the plan for you. There’s a good chance that they also have no idea themselves; they don’t always know everything, and that’s supposedly why they have leaders like you to own and figure out things for them. And that also includes what you’re supposed to do, or at least what you want to do, for them.

Plan to do something disruptive / innovative for the month. If you think about it, “disruption” doesn’t realistically happen overnight. It’s something that will take some time and a lot of planning. But the important thing here is to have a plan in the first place, and start executing on the same. My thought on planning for something for a month’s duration is so that you can act and adjust quickly. Basically, it’s the “fail fast, fail quickly” concept: If it doesn’t work, then stop doing it as soon as possible rather than invest and waste more time on it. If it works, then you can plan to continue and / or tweak it further for the next month.

The following are a few things to consider when thinking about something disruptive:

  • Think of something specific that you can drive differently.
  • Think of a creative idea to make work more efficient (more digital, if you will).
  • Do something independently, which contributes to the overall goals and objectives of the organization, that hasn’t been a directive given to you.
  • Look for something to “lead” vs. just having something to “deliver.”

On the matter of innovation, you don’t have to look that far for inspiration and ideas. Look at the current problems that beset your organization and start from there. And when we speak of “problems,” it can also mean something that actually works – but things can and should be done to still make it better, faster, efficient, consistent, etc. Challenge the “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it” mentality. You can say that something is truly innovative if it has a positive impact to how things are done.

Note: “Fail fast, fail quickly” isn’t intended so that we should plan to fail. It’s more along the lines of being resilient and able to adapt and learn quickly from any mistakes.

Break down the plan into tasks that can be scheduled and executed within feasible slices of time. With the overall plan for the month in mind, look at what can be done for the week that will get you closer to completing what you want. From there, look at what can be done each day so that you slowly get to complete the target you want to achieve for that particular week. If you have a dependency on another person or team to get something done, then call it out in your plan. Basically, define actions, owners of the actions, and targets. If you’re unable to define a target to get something done for whatever reason, then at least define a target on when you’ll be in a position to determine a target to get it done.

It wouldn’t hurt to do something proactive each day, too. Learn a lesson from the movie “Saving Private Ryan”: In the movie, the mission of the Captain and his team was to find and bring home a soldier named Private Ryan. However, an opportunity unrelated to the mission came up where the team could contribute further in winning the war. At the end of the day, the overall objective was to win the war, and with that in mind, they took advantage of the opportunity that presented itself. Ideally the proactive task you do should be something that’s aligned to what you want to accomplish for the week, to help you get closer to completing your disruptive goal. But if there’s a tactical opportunity to do something that will help further the overall goals and objectives of the organization, then act on it immediately.

We can talk about disruption / innovation all we want, but at the end of the day what’s key to remaining relevant is our ability to provide something that people need. Technology by itself isn’t disruptive; it becomes so because it provides a better way to address an existing need. If you’re not able to do “something new,” then the very least you can do is continue to do a good job with what you’re currently doing so that people won’t be in dire need to look for something better.

We live in times where business is no longer usual, and the nature of our work is changing. How you manage to keep up with the times will determine how much further you can go and how much more you can achieve and succeed. Do what you need to do, just do something and get things done.

In summary, to remain relevant:

  • Define what you want to do as a leader in your organization.
  • Plan for the disruption / innovation you want to do, and break it down into actions, owners, and targets.
  • Do something proactive that contributes to achieving your goal in particular or your organization’s goal in general.
  • At the very least, do a good job with your current role.
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Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Social Media: Leave Something Nice

August 26, 2017 Leave a comment

One hundred years from now, most of us who are alive today will be dead. However there will be artifacts of us that we’ll leave behind, that will survive us long after we’re gone. These are the numerous thoughts and insights we share in social media. If the only things you leave behind are angry and nasty comments, then the only thing future generations will see and know of you is that you were someone who was miserable in life.

A few counter-arguments are in order:

  • You would be correct to say that you don’t have to care. One hundred years from now, peoples’ opinion and perception of you won’t make you any happier or sadder in death.
  • You would be correct to say that it’s more important to be honest with yourself by just being yourself. What that means in this situation is that it’s better, and more real, to be a sincere jerk, expressing a lot of the toxicity that’s in one’s heart, than to project an always cheerful, positive, and pleasing personality, but such is a complete fake. Besides, you’re under absolutely no obligation to please anyone; if people don’t like you then that’s ultimately their problem.

The world as we know it isn’t in black and white. The world is tinted in more than 50 shades of gray and then some. I’m not disputing the counter-arguments; I think these are valid. I’m just saying that it wouldn’t hurt to leave behind something nice as well to balance out any negativity. After all, even though life isn’t perfect (no one’s life is anyway!), it doesn’t have to be perfect to be happy. And no matter how disillusioned you are with your life, good things still happen in it regardless. Give that side of goodness a chance to be remembered, too.

Life isn’t all that bad. The world isn’t as dark as you want people and yourself to believe. If you don’t hesitate to be honest about what’s rotten in the world, then don’t hesitate to be honest with what’s beautiful with it, too.

For your legacy, it wouldn’t hurt to leave something nice on social media for the generations that will come across and meet your online persona in the future; give them a balanced perspective of your life.

Attraction and Pain in Proportion

August 21, 2017 Leave a comment

The sense of attraction for someone, and the pain from rejection, comes in certain proportions.

Attraction is directly proportional to perceived availability. Someone is at her most attractive when she’s still single. To put it bluntly, a pretty face becomes gorgeous when she isn’t married or in a relationship yet. This gives the admirer a sense of hope because the chance to pursue and win her is still there. Such attraction diminishes when she’s in a relationship, because it’s harder to compete and win her over when her heart already belongs to someone. And in a way, attraction can (and probably should) cease to exist if she’s already married, because it means she’s committed to no longer entertain anyone else in her life.

Conversely, the pain experienced from rejection is indirectly proportional to perceived availability. The less available a person is, the less painful it is when she rejects you. Rejection feels bad when she’s already married because it means, by virtue of her commitment, you already have no chance; by default you’re already rejected. And such rejection is only proper because actually, if she really loves her husband, then she should reject you. Rejection feels worse when she’s in a relationship because, although she’s not yet finally committed to someone, she already loves someone else who is not you. For these two cases, it feels awful. However unfaithfulness, especially in a marriage, is unacceptable, thus, any rejection is understandable and even acceptable. But rejection feels the worst when, even if she’s still single and thus the opportunity to have her in your life is there, she still rejects you because she just isn’t interested in you.

Anyway, these are just a few things I’ve observed in my journey in life.

Categories: Personal

Leadership: Success When Approachable, Correctable

August 21, 2017 1 comment

A leader is only successful because of his followers. If a leader is able to get anything done, then usually it’s not because he was able to do it himself, but because he was able to do it through others. Therefore, a leader is only as effective as the people under him who choose to respect his authority and follow him. Treat people right and half the battle is already won; a leader is on his way to success. However when you’re lousy to those you need, expect failure.

It’s obviously important to have core competencies to actually do the work. It’s important to work hard to gain experience (even from failures) that will further one’s confidence and expertise in doing work.

But at the end of the day, no one person can succeed alone. Even if you have the drive to get somewhere far, you still need people to help you get to where you want to be. And of course, the last thing you want to be is a jerk to the people who can build you up; screw with them, though, and don’t be surprised if they tear you down.

Be humble enough to recognize that you need help to get anywhere in life. And because you need help, you need to work with the people around you that can make such possible. It’s therefore important to build a healthy rapport with them.

Be Approachable

Success in leadership involves being approachable to the people who work for you. Note that this isn’t something superficial: You should have a genuine and sincere connection to them. Of course there’s such a thing as professional distance, but that’s beside the point. They should be able to connect to you during “the good times” so that they’d also be comfortable reaching out to you during “the bad times,” which is just as crucial if not more so.

Being approachable also means you’re available to them when they need you. Find time for your team, even if it’s at least being available to them online once in a while. If you’re always busy and your calendar is always booked with back-to-back appointments, then you become USELESS to them. Even worse is if they no longer bother to reach out to you (or even try), for whatever reason. A leader who has no time for his team isn’t one who is approachable.

You’re “relatable” to your people if they see who you are. At the end of the day, this means they see that you’re just like them, too, which you are, actually. Consequently, you also allow them to be themselves.

You will not be able to appropriately reach out and engage people if you don’t allow them to freely express themselves. You have a serious problem if people feel the need to censor themselves or tell you only what you want to hear because they fear your reaction. And if people actually do that then it also shows you’re NOT the kind of person they can trust. – Me

Failure to be approachable means your team will only do work for you at the bare minimum that’s professionally required from them to do. Now, strictly speaking you shouldn’t expect more than that, and that’s precisely only what you’ll get. However if people see that you’re someone reachable, approachable, and relatable, then they will be willing to go beyond just that.

Be Correctable

Success in leadership involves being correctable. Be humble enough to accept that you don’t know everything and you’re not always right. It’s important to be approachable to your people because oftentimes they would be in a good position to tell you what you’re doing wrong. And if you’re someone who’s approachable then they won’t be afraid to speak up and call-out something wrong.

Those who know you have a tendency to tolerate your bad behavior, while those who don’t will call you out for the same. It’s an interesting twist that, in the long run, it’s those who don’t know you who are the ones unwittingly acting more in your best interest, because they’re the ones giving you the corrective feedback you need to hear, painful as it might be. On the other hand, sometimes, for fear of rocking the boat, those who know you allow you to continue to remain an idiot; perhaps a few might even find it entertaining to keep you that way. It’s ironic that those who don’t like you (“enemies” is too strong a word in this context) turn out to be your best friends sometimes. Real friends are the ones who aren’t afraid to constructively criticize you for your crap. – Me again

The people under you should have what I call a “healthy disrespect for authority.” This means they fight for what they know is right, and they even outright disagree and raise their concerns. The people under you should be able to make a stand and do the needful: They resist what they see is monumentally wrong and stupid. Oftentimes this is also the only way for the truth of the matter to come to the surface and get wider visibility. They show no fear or hesitation challenging the prevailing authority when they know there’s something wrong, even if in this case the “authority” is you.

As a leader, it can actually work for you when the people under you challenge you:

1. If you’re wrong, then you immediately know you’re wrong. You can then take the appropriate corrective actions to get back on the right track. And the sooner this happens, the better, because the last thing you want is to find out you’re wrong when it’s already too late.

2. At the very least, challenges to your idea can help solidify your position concerning it. Criticism can become an opportunity for you to confirm that you’re on the right track. If you’re able to revalidate that your decision is the right thing to do then you strengthen your position further.

Frankly, beware of those who don’t point out what you’re doing wrong, because those are the people who want you to fail.

As a leader, be open to correction whenever you get it and from whoever you get it, even from the people under you, even if how such is delivered to you is rude and painful. Use criticism to your advantage to improve yourself. At the very least, use that to avoid making a huge mistake.

In summary, as a leader, be approachable and correctable, for such virtues will help you succeed.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

The Right Attitude Toward Interruptions

August 20, 2017 Leave a comment

Some people just love to talk. Although there are possible passive-aggressive ways to handle these people, such are easier said than done. Thus, in practice, there’s not much we can do about it; it’s innately their attitude towards talking that can’t be changed. And so, if you can’t stop people from talking, then you might as well find a way to take advantage of such.

I particularly still loathe it when I’m interrupted. This happens around people who have something to say and just can’t wait for the person currently speaking to end what he’s saying. There’s an element of impatience on the individual who can’t wait for his turn to speak. And if I didn’t know any better, there’s also an element of arrogance because this person feels like what he has to say is more important and so he just has to go ahead and interrupt; this might actually be true, but it doesn’t diminish the conceit in the matter.

To the best of our ability, I think we should try to be patient, or at least to not be too offended, when someone interrupts us. We can use this as an opportunity to learn more about that person, and in particular what’s on his mind; this knowledge is still worth something. It’s easier said than done, but you can’t control the other person, only how you deal with his nature.

I think patience, and a certain amount of understanding, is the right attitude when you get interrupted. There’s still no excuse for the bad behavior. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop being charitable.

We can only hope that that when someone interrupts us, his idea is either more important and / or more interesting than what we were saying. Sometimes, this is actually the case, and so it makes his interruption worth it. Otherwise, the person is just rambling (and potentially rambling things bordering on nonsense), and my opinion of him being disrespectful and arrogant will only strengthen. If the latter is the case, then it’s his fault for exposing himself as a fool.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

The Fleeting Crush

August 13, 2017 Leave a comment

A “fleeting crush” can be described, among many ways, thusly: “I know your name. You know I exist. As far as I’m concerned, that’s good enough for me. I’ll take what I can get; I’ll receive what can be given. I’m not expecting anything, thus to receive even what little notice you can spare is an underserved generous plenty. And even if the gift isn’t much – it’s actually nothing at all – I’ll still be immensely grateful for the blessing that is you. I’m content just admiring you from a distance, for I want nothing more than just that. Thank you for your presence in my life, if only for just this fleeting moment.”

Categories: Personal

Possibility of Escape From the Boss-Zone

August 6, 2017 Leave a comment

Being at a high place in the corporate ladder has its perils and then some, with such risks also evident when it comes to love. The loneliness of command is real, and some leaders feel it more than others. A position too high up the hierarchy can be a detriment in the pursuit of love. It puts you in an “awkward” if not “unreachable” place. To put it simply: You find yourself getting “Boss-Zoned.” In my musings today, I wondered if there was a way to escape this particular zone; perhaps there are a few ways, but none are easy.

A relationship should be a “meeting of equals.” At a minimum, you need to ensure that there’s no reporting relationship. Make no mistake: This is a foundational requirement. When there’s a reporting relationship, there’s some power play that can influence the balance of the dynamics between two people. Never mind for a moment that such won’t be a good thing for other people in the office to see; this imbalance can and will cloud decisions when it comes to assignments, performance management, salary administration, and the like. Things that happen outside the office shouldn’t unduly influence or impact things that happen inside the office, and vice-versa.

The other action that I think needs to happen would be to wait for the other person to catch-up to you in the ladder. That can mean waiting for her to eventually become your peer. That can mean staying at your level for a while longer until such time that she’s able to move up to your level, too. That can mean a combination of both. But this approach comes with its own risks: This involves a lot of waiting, and a lot of things can and will happen while waiting. There’s a good chance to lose her if (when) she chooses to be with someone else who is her peer. And sacrificing your own benefit for a relationship that literally isn’t promised or “secured” is foolish; you’re waiting for nothing. You owe it to yourself to pursue and enjoy what you rightly deserve, too.

It’s worth calling out the nuance in the latter action. It involves waiting for the other person to be your peer. If you’re able to influence or directly push for that to happen then the imbalance in the relationship is still there. In other words the situation is such that it’s not a “meeting of equals,” the foundational requirement doesn’t exist. It’s a misuse / abuse of one’s authority to unfairly give another person an advantage. Once more, never mind for a moment that it won’t look good; it’s important that she’s able to achieve things on her own, that she shouldn’t owe you anything. Undue influence with what can happen inside the office is something you don’t need in the relationship since such only breeds a particular form of anxiety that both of you don’t need.

Again, be warned: Waiting, especially waiting too long, is a dangerous thing to do. If you want something to happen, if you want to get who you want, then it’s crucial for you to act immediately. You need to be in a place where there isn’t anything you can do that will have any sway in what happens in the relationship as far as work is concerned, and vice-versa. And the sooner that you can make this happen (whatever the hell that might be if it’s not these two actions), the better.

For what it’s worth, the lady that catches your eye in the office isn’t the only option in your life. As they say, there are many other fish in the sea. Sometimes it’s just best to avoid the problem of getting “Boss-Zoned” altogether by just considering others outside your current employment. In such case, both of you are free to grow and prosper in your respective fields and endeavors. There’s no need to deal with the potential influence of power plays, office politics, competition, etc. in a relationship as a result of one’s position and what-not, because such simply won’t exist; it won’t be a thing to mitigate.

Love is a “many-splendored” thing, as it’s often said. But nobody ever said love would be an easy thing. Love is one of the messiest, if not the messiest, thing you can ever get yourself involved in. Perhaps it’s best to just avoid it for good? Now, that’s another option altogether, one not meant for everyone.

Before I forget, a personal relationship is meant to be private. Therefore, exercise discretion in whatever you choose to do. Now, how to be discrete is another story for another day.

Categories: Personal