Sunday, January 21, 2018

Lessons from the End of 2017

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions, but the time during (and after) a two-month pause in the mission we've worked on for over four years gave me a chance to rethink a lot of things and have come to some conclusions, some of which are new, but most aren't.
  • Everyone deserves a second chance, and all of us get them. Some of us need the third, fourth, eighth chances, etc--to get it right, to find the groove, to align what we do, how we do it with what we believe. And as a friend reminded me once, we're all ex-offenders, just some of us got caught.
  • Don't believe everything you think. For me this translates to withholding judgment of other people's behaviors and choosing not to interpret intent. I wonder about assumptions people make about me, and how those align with fact, or my own thoughts and beliefs. And I'm am working on aligning my own beliefs with my daily routines and actions, which is difficult for certain personality types (mine) for whom routine is not routine.
  • There's a fine line between faking it until you make it and lying--it's a delicate balance. Internally you know the line, or at least should; if you know, you have a responsibility to be clear with people about that line, that everything is conditional until things truly come together.
  • List the worst things that can happen in case the worst does happen, and for each of those write what you would do in response. Acceptance is a valid answer to any of those, and perhaps a necessary step to recovering. Its can be very freeing.
  • Listening is the best way to develop trust with people and to get to know them more deeply.
  • Health, family, friends and love are the most important things to me. This isn't linear; they're all interrelated and important, none exist in a vacuum, and they all take consistent investments.
  • Setting aside emotion helps you focus on the job at hand; suppressing emotion can lead to negative effects. It's better to sit with it when it happens, or at least on the day it happens, acknowledge it, and move forward. Force is not a good method for handling your emotional life.
  • Never underestimate the kindness and optimism of other people.
  • Don't make assumptions about other people, what they think, what's behind their decisions and behavior, how they feel, and what they will or won't do for you. It's fair to ask, but accept the answer for what it is.
  • Never give up. I watched Jimmy Valvano's farewell speech (he died of cancer soon after) a number of times over the past six months, and it reminded me that it's not over until time runs out, and also reminded me that however bad things could be, I'm fortunate, and there's usually a new, fresh life ahead if you design it that way (within the limits of your circumstances).
  • Try to maintain an overall loving mindset. This isn't an easy one when people treat your poorly, or behave badly, or your situation is dire, but like acceptance, it's freeing.
  • Don't feel afraid to ask for and accept the help of others. I tend to resist this, but have been more and more open to it, especially over the past two months.
  • Seek advice from others. Not answers--only you can come up with the answers because only you fully understand the context of your situation.
  • Hire a coach. Coaches aren't your friends, they're more objective and can help you cut through the murkiness of your thoughts as you muddle through the tough stuff. I'm interviewing coaches and looking forward to having that help in the future.
That's what's been on my mind. I was excited to see everyone at the company meeting today, and grateful for the opportunity to get back to building the business. Their work and commitment is what gets me up every day, and it's a privilege to work with them.

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