Ponderings on Leadership, Business Relationships, Careers, and Community

Authentically Speaking

Are You Working in a Dysfunctional Meeting Culture?

Before you read the rest of this post, I would like you to engage in a brief reflection exercise. Close your eyes and think about where you spent your time over the last two weeks at work. How much of your time was spent in meetings? How many of the meetings were productive with clear agendas, specific actions assigned to participants and specific deadlines for those action items? How many meetings, upon reflection, were repetitive, had no agendas, did not really require your presence or could have been handled by an email or brief conference call? Did you have enough time over the last two weeks to actually do all the work your job requires during the workday or did it spill over into your personal time?

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Basic Humanity Gets a Boost on the Hiking Trail

As is our custom most weekends, my older son Alex and I went hiking this past Saturday afternoon at a park with excellent trails near our home.  I find this time in the woods to not only be excellent father/son time, but an opportunity to work on my health, disengage from the hectic world around me and be more thoughtful and reflective. As we walked the hilly trails, my thoughts turned to the damaging impact the pandemic has had the last two years on relationships and the overall state of disconnectedness many of us feel. I have also observed with concern the accelerated deterioration of common courtesy, gratitude and mutual respect during this time that was already in motion long before Covid turned our lives upside down. I am not sure I have ever experienced a more divisive and angry period in my adult life. This line of thinking, to be honest, put me in a bit of a gloomy mood during the hike until my son and I had three random encounters that changed my perspective for the better.

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How to Identify and Thwart Time Thieves (and Not Become One)

Picture in your mind a likely familiar crime scene: the calendar. Every hour of every day during a typical business week, others (with likely good intentions) are trying to steal our time. “Time thieves” often hide right under our nose, comfortably situated between us and our work.  The good news is they leave clues at every crime scene.  If we’re going to improve efficiency, drive performance and practice better self-care we must expose the crimes that time thieves commit and make a serious effort to thwart them.  We must also recognize and acknowledge that sometimes we are the time thieves and our behavior may need to change as well.

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When Leaders Embrace the Abundance Mindset

I was thinking about my mother Sandi this morning, who passed away almost 13 years ago. One of the many things I loved and admired about my mother was her generous nature and desire to help everyone she met. What you may find interesting is that she worked very hard in her full-time job as well as her more important roles as wife, mother, sister, daughter and church volunteer while enduring numerous health-related issues in her later years. My mother dealt with all the stress, illness and adversity in her life with joy and a smile…and never complained. In fact, she was always grateful and saw her challenges as blessings, not burdens. She always had a kind word for you or some sort of encouragement to offer in spite of what others may have described as overwhelming burdens to carry. It was through the way she joyfully lived her life that my mother taught me what living with an abundance mindset means and her example has helped shape me as a leader, husband and father.

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The Journey From “Learning Jobs”​ to Doing Work We Love

I have been reflecting on a recent conversation with a young professional I met who is eight months into his first post-college job. He is eager to grow his career and get started doing work he loves, but struggled in our conversation to articulate what he thought success looked like or clearly defining “work he loves”. He described feeling bored, disengaged and trapped in his current job and was thinking about starting a job search, even though he works for a Fortune 500 company that recruited him out of college and is doing work directly related to his degree. When he expressed an interest in the work I do, this led to a discussion about the difference between learning jobs and doing work we love.

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Cultivating Curiosity as a Skill

The greatest compliment was ever paid me was when someone asked me what I thought and attended to my answer. – Henry David Thoreau

Curiosity is one of my favorite skills and one I have worked hard to develop ever since I was a new professional right out of college. I love to ask questions and learn about people’s lives, interests, challenges and successes and am always willing to be transparent and share about my life as well. I have long realized that when you’re genuinely curious, you must actively listen to the other person. Nothing builds trust and deepens relationships more effectively than allowing the other person to feel truly listened to and valued. I am also a strong advocate for getting to know both the personal and work aspects of someone’s life, with a preference for the personal side first.

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Three Things All Leaders Should Be Doing Right Now

I was reflecting this morning about the countless conversations I have had with leaders in my network over the last few months and the consistent themes that have been present in most of them. Many leaders are feeling challenged to varying degrees with open positions on their teams, retaining their people, supply chain issues, the pressure of navigating Covid-related workplace requirements and the ever-present stress of just doing their jobs and hitting the numbers. It can be easy and even understandable for leaders in such stressful times to just dig in and hold on…hoping to weather the storm.

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The Power of Self-Discipline, Intentionality & Routine for Leaders in 2022

Many of us may be wrestling this week over which priorities to concentrate our attention on in 2022. I wonder if our priority lists actually vary much from year to year or will they once again include a vague focus on health goals, family time, time with friends, acquiring new skills, business success, personal financial goals, etc. Perhaps we will get very specific in the form of resolutions about certain things we will do or bad habits we will drop. I would suggest a better use of our time is considering how to improve our self-discipline and embrace intentionality and not about narrowly focusing on which priorities make the list. We likely know what we need/want to do, but may struggle to get it all done. Perhaps one of the best places to start is considering where we spend our time and developing useful routines. Let me give you an example.

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Thoughtfully Considering Generosity

“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” ― Albert Einstein

Generosity is one of my favorite words and a trait I greatly admire in others. As we approach Christmas and the end of 2021, I would like to share some thoughts with you on generosity that will encourage you to pause and reflect before the holidays, but also hopefully influence how you live in 2022 (and beyond). Would you agree that generosity inspires gratitude, and gratitude inspires generosity? Let me share a brief story that illustrates this point.

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Reflecting on the Road Less Traveled

I was reflecting this morning on a hike I took a few weeks ago with my oldest son at a park near our home in the northern Atlanta suburbs. We came across a fork in the trail which made me think of Robert Frost’s famous poem, The Road Not Taken, and these lines in particular:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

That reflective day on the hiking trail and this poem have been on my mind of late as I consider the choices and decisions I have made in my life and the ripple effect that followed. I have often taken the less traveled path and am grateful for the rich experiences, lessons learned and the wonderful people I have encountered along the way. I assure you I have not always made perfect choices, but by and large I feel a sense of contentment and appreciation for where my life is today. Do you ever reflect on the decisions you have made and the paths you have followed in life?

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Candid and Expert Advice From Serviam Partners

Based in Atlanta, Serviam Partners serves clients nationwide