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Just Being Silly: Never Admit You’re Bored

September 2, 2017 Leave a comment

Never, EVER, admit that you’re bored! It’s like asking the question, “What else can go wrong?” – Life’s answer to this question is swift and ruthless. Life is listening, and this bitch has a way of “fixing” your problems, imagined or otherwise; this also includes any sense of boredom you harbor.

Being bored means you’re just not creative enough to pass the time. Find a way to keep yourself busy. If necessary, then pretend to be busy! Some people get so bored that they actually start doing their work; if you’re desperate enough then you can do that too, even on a weekend or holiday.

At the very least, try to appreciate the mood of laziness that comes with boredom, for when the insanity of work in particular and the stress of life in general finally comes, you might end up just laughing maniacally at the same.

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Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

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.
Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

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

Too Many E-mails, Too Many Meetings

July 29, 2017 1 comment

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. – Advice I gave some years ago

In my opinion, the evils that come with too many e-mails and too many meetings are mutually inclusive.

Sometimes e-mail is useless because the recipient doesn’t respond in a timely manner, if at all. That’s usually because the recipient’s Inbox is overloaded with too much e-mail. Frustration at a lack of response eventually leads to just meeting that person to talk about it – assuming you’re successful in scheduling something with him.

Life is often too fully booked these days. Too many meetings are a waste of time because it’s time spent not doing any deliverable needed. If the only thing you do is attend meetings the whole day, then you’re “not doing anything.” I’ve even been to a couple of pre-meeting meetings just to prepare for a meeting – imagine the time spent just doing that; what’s sad in this example was that there was a real need to do just that! Out of frustration at trying to talk to people who aren’t available, the last resort would be to just send them an e-mail – and hope against hope for a timely response from the person (good luck with that), since this would be one more e-mail in his large pile that could likely be ignored.

Too many e-mails left without a response breed nagging follow-ups through meetings. Too many meetings deprive the person of time that could have otherwise been spent doing actual work, or at the very least, responding to e-mails. It’s a vicious cycle, which as far as I can tell has no end in sight in this day and age.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Dare to be Courageous

July 23, 2017 1 comment

It’s said that the test of man is not how far he will go to win, but how far he will go when he has already lost. There’s something admirable about keeping one’s commitment to a cause, even if such is a lost one. Unfortunately that doesn’t change the fact that all time and effort is still wasted on a lost cause.

That being said, sometimes, when you already assume and expect the worst, you no longer have anything to lose. It’s when you have nothing left to lose that you can, you should, and you might as well be bold as you can in all of your actions to reach your goal.

Dare to be courageous when you have nothing left to lose. Go ahead and do something stupid when you already lost the battle, for at this point nothing you could do will make the situation any worse than it already is. Find out how much further you can go even when it looks like you could go no further. And be pleasantly surprised to see what more a little bit of courage can do for you; it’s only impossible when you stop and think about it.

Go ahead and dare to want some more.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Weekend Hyped Happiness

May 7, 2017 Leave a comment

It has occurred to me that there’s a lot of hype about how happy weekends are because, generally-speaking, there’s no work. That’s true. But I think because we tend to think that weekends are that great, that makes the other five days of the week “lousy” (unless there’s a holiday). The eventual end of the weekend signals the end of happiness, and this thought can be quite depressing. Speaking for myself, it’s no wonder I get psyched the wrong way. In other words, weekend fun ironically leads to stress.

I think rather than hype weekends for how great they are, even if they are such, a possibly helpful mind-hack would be to think that weekends are just like the other days of the week. Strictly speaking, weekends are just like weekdays anyway. But you can think of weekends as also “work days,” except that there are no meetings scheduled, and the time you have is whatever “work” you want to do instead of what the company wants you to do.

The key idea here is that every single day of the week, whether it’s a weekday or a weekend, is a day that can and should be fulfilling. It’s fulfilling if you have a sense of purpose for what you want to do that day. And because you have a sense of purpose, this is the reason to be happy on that day.

You can and should have a reason to be happy every day of the week and not just on weekends. It can be challenging at times, but it’s not impossible.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy