Challenge Accepted!

challenge accepted

If you’re paying attention, you’ll often find that everything that happens in your life is more interconnected than it seems on the surface. Themes and life lessons often are simultaneously applicable to professional and personal Greg. The first few months of 2017 are saying, “It’s lesson time!”

I am not much for personal boasting or for being as confident in myself as I could be. I don’t often tell myself I’m particularly good at things for fear of becoming too proud or seen as arrogant. Maybe it’s a mentality of “I can always do better” or a false humility that prevents me from appreciating and owning the fact there’s stuff I’m legitimately good at. I often need some reinforcement and reminders from friends and others that I should be utilizing my strengths more often.

In my head, I know I am capable of quite a bit and probably more if I seriously applied myself. I can look at my life so far and find some notable accomplishments. There are also those less visible achievements that almost nobody besides myself is aware of. There are natural fits for where I should utilize my skills and expend my energy.

I’ve mentioned before in previous posts that I often end up in positions of leadership and influence, even in times when I wasn’t seeking those roles out. In reality, most of the time I wasn’t looking to be “the guy” who took on the responsibility of collecting money for and tracking the apartment’s utility bills or of discerning the next best steps for optimizing work processes. All paths lead me to a place at the front of the pack and in most cases has stretched me beyond my original capabilities and made me see the world with a different perspective.

 

This is a year where I am strongly sensing and seeing a need to bring my best to the table. If life is a constant training ground for that next big moment to step up, 2017 feels like that moment for me. There isn’t time for coasting and watching the world go by. The only exception to that rule is if I’m outdoors on a run training for a race.

What goes along with being given any skill is a responsibility to use and share it for the good of the world around you. I’m not trying to present myself as some superhero here to save the day in every situation I find myself. Though when the time comes when I’m called to do my part, I can’t be hesitant to step up to the task for fear of standing out or of failing.

The hardest and sometimes least prominent part of accepting any new challenge is choosing what needs to be removed to make space for what lies ahead. For example, I can’t successfully simultaneously train for a marathon and eat fast food daily or go to bed at 2 AM. For me to increase my intake of books and write more, that means I have to make a conscious choice to cut back on TV, Netflix, and Hulu.

The overall 2017 challenge theme for me is this: lead. Lead by example. Lead by doing. This is no simple feat. It will require discipline, rest, time, focus, and help to succeed.

I mentioned recently that I need to make space in my life for what’s important and I’m continuing to figure out how to properly do that. Because like most humans, I fall into my old habits thinking I can take on new ones without internally breaking. Removing the excess and unimportant is difficult and requires some uncomfortable decisions that force you to face the priorities you have set for yourself.

So, to 2017: Challenge Accepted! I hope I succeed more often than I fail and try more often than the times I give up.

Planning Isn’t So Bad Once You Get Used To It

It’s always interesting to me how a theme can find its way into every part of my life all at the same time. Right now, that theme is planning. As a natural INFP, planning isn’t something that comes naturally to me. In a lot of ways, I prefer to go with the flow of the situation and see where life takes me. Yet at the same time, I’ve been thrust into roles in my life that require it of me. I also find age and “adulthood” forces me to think a few steps ahead and figure out what I need to do before it happens.

One area this is showing itself more than ever is in my job. Now, as an IT Director, planning has always been part of my job and working on timelines and considering what if scenarios isn’t anything new. Though in the last few months I’ve learned I need to do better with it, especially when it comes to teaching it to those I supervise. While it’s become more natural to me over the years from my work experience, that doesn’t mean it always does for others. So often a good plan makes the job so much better. I can recall thinking early on after college that having all these meetings and talking about stuff vs. just doing whatever needed to be done was a waste of time. Only after years of real life experience do I now see that spending some time up front can really save you a lot of grief later.

The other came to me as I met with a personal trainer last week to discuss what I should be doing to prepare for events like the Shamrock Shuffle in late March. What he continued to drill into my head the whole hour we met was that once you determined your goal, whether it’s running a 5K or 50 mile ultra marathon is that you have to lay out a plan for yourself and stick to it. You can’t expect yourself to be ready for an ultra marathon without putting in some serious prep work. As he talked (and I ran on the treadmill), this is seemed so obvious. Yet why hadn’t I put the pieces together before?

Goals, whether successful completion of a project at work or running a race, requires forethought, planning, and hard work. I daresay one of my 2012 themes will be planning. I’ll be doing more of it at work. I’m already planning an 8K (the aforementioned Shamrock Shuffle). Perhaps the most fun thing so far this year? Planning my best friend’s bachelor party! See, this planning thing isn’t so bad all the time.

My (Re)Focus on Being a Leader

I originally started this post to focus on the topic of working to be your best and how that isn’t always the easiest thing to do. A number of events in the past couple months have reminded me that I haven’t always been at my best; I haven’t always put in 100% in everything I do. While I don’t see or feel the effects of that in the near future, the result of every action or inaction is evident.

For many years, starting back in college and if I really think about it part of high school, I’ve found myself in positions of leadership. When I’ve been completely devoted and focused on that task and role, I have excelled and it shows in the results of my work and can be seen in the fruits of the organizations and groups I’ve been part of. Though if I give myself an honest assessment of my overall life performance lately, I haven’t always been the best at it nor given my all to people I’m called to lead, direct and teach. I’m not sure why I’ve let myself get so lazy with this. Time to change that.

Starting now, I’m going to refocus my energy to be a better, more focused, more intentional leader. That will entail thinking more about the big picture and the future, training and educating those I lead to be equipped, and keeping myself sharp. Tonight I grabbed my copy of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell which I haven’t read in quite a while. Expect to start seeing some thoughts and reflections on leadership with some direct quotes and insight from Mr. Maxwell.