I am sure that you have heard the saying “there is only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week.” Over the last few weeks I believe that I am challenging this…. How you say? There is only 7 days in a week…. Technically you are correct there is only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and 168 hours in a week. However between the projects I have been working on I am actually doing more than 7 days per week of paid work at the moment.
Can I hear you say “what about work-life balance?” Good question. I believe that work-life balance is not something that we achieve each and every day or week. There are times when we are chasing our passion and our dreams, which is going to require us to work harder some weeks over others. Is this a bad thing? I think not, but what do you think?
This morning as I prepared myself for the office I got thinking about flow. One definition of flow is “move steadily and continuously in a current or stream.” The flow I am referring to is that sense of everything heading in the one direction in your life. The question that I have been asking myself today is am I fighting the flow?
When we look at water, it heads from high points in the mountains down to the sea. Just as we do not imagine that water flows uphill, why is it that we expect to fight the flow in our lives? Yes, I agree that we control the destiny of our lives, so how does that work with the concept of flow? I think that martial arts holds the key to this question.
In martial arts when you block a punch, you are not necessarily stop the punch, but instead you deflect the punch. You use the opponent’s energy and flow to move towards your desired outcomes. So in fact you are using the flow and energy that exists and not fighting it. Going back to our water example, this can be seen in the way we have build dams and water infrastructure to use the flow to our advantage.
So, how does this impact on my life…. I am going to spend less time fighting the flow and more time using the flow to lead my life in my desired direction….
- Think back over the last week, are you fighting the flow or using the flow?
- What is one thing that you can do today to use the flow better?
- How can you take advantage of the flow in your life
Last week I attended my Children’s School for an awards ceremony. My son received a Community Award. Yes, I was very proud of him. He received the award for the way he happily helps out around the school. It was great to have the opportunity to be there as see him receive his award.
The Awards Ceremony was a celebration for the school of these students that had achieved during Semester 1. They recognised students excellent academic results, for doing a great effort in their students and also for being community minded around the school. In the Principal’s words every student has an opportunity to achieve an award.
There was great involvement from the student body in the ceremony, including the School Captains and the entertainment. I was very impressed with the themes throughout the ceremony. These themes included leadership, opportunity, service, excellence, community and professionalism. The awards were very much about expectations while also being understanding of each students needs.
Some thoughts I had during the Ceremony:
- Do I have high enough expectations for myself and others I deal with?
- Do I have a caring and understanding attitude towards others?
- Am I there to support others to meet the expectations?
Wednesday this week was a big day…. and I was fortunate enough to get an invite to the 2014 Woman of Spirit Awards hosted by Lifeline Canberra. I was invited through my friend Kylie Ofiu who was nominated for the Rising Women of Spirit Award and was a finalist. It was inspiring to hear all the stories that the woman had to share as part of their nomination.
The stories were one of overcoming a great challenge and in the process inspiring others.These stories were of overcoming health issues, domestic violence, mental health issues, disasters, accidents and family issues. And the stories brought a tear to my eye. It was amazing to hear about the challenges that these women faced yet they managed to get back up and inspire others.
It did get me thinking about how in Australia, we tend to be good at pulling together and overcoming adversity. In times of adversity we are known as a nation to pull together and work our way through the crisis. Wouldn’t it also be nice if we could pull together and achieve when there is not a crisis to overcome? Let these stories from the Woman of Spirit Awards inspire us all to great things…..
This week it was a great honour to be able to pin a school parliament badge on my youngest. At the school Assembly all the the elected students came up on stage and had a parent pin their student parliament badge on them. I was proud of her not so much because she got elected, but more so because she gave it a go.
She spent time to prepare her speech and after many delays got to pitch herself to her peers. What a great leadership experience to be involved with. I think it is great that the school provides this peer leadership opportunity to the students in their last two years of primary school.
In addition to the election process the school then has the elected parliamentarians fulfill different portfolios. These portfolios have practical application around the school in terms of the School Community and leadership of peers. My daughter got the Sustainability portfolio so she will be leading in the area of the garden that the school has.
Yesterday was a day of mixed emotions. I was attending the funeral of one of my former soldiers. It was a day of remembering the good times and also farewelling a friend. Back in my first command role I meet LCPL John “Rocky” Helliar. Back in those days I was living a few hours away and hence spent a fair amount of time at the barracks in Holsworthy. Rocky was in a similar position and hence spent a fair amount of time at the barracks also.
Back in the day we used to sit on the verandah after work and talk over a drink or two…. Talking about work, life and who knows what… Yesterday was a time to remember the good times. And also the good life that Rocky had led. He had three passions in life Family, Army and Rural Fire Service. After listening to the tributes yesterday, it became very clear to me that the Rocky I saw at army was the Rocky that everyone saw.
The stories from family members, the stories from friends, the stories from the Rural Fire Service and the stories from Army all said that Rocky was always there when you needed him. It did not matter whether it was saving Merimbula from fires or playing with the children in the extended family or serving with the Army supporting Aboriginal communities, Rocky was there. It was good to remember the Good Times.
Rest in Peace….
I have heard a lot of talk in many organisations about thinking strategically. Often the talk is followed by ideas… Some of the ideas are small and others big. One of the things that strikes me about human nature is how we all think we have the best idea. I am a believer in thinking big and striving for more. I also think that we need to think more strategically.
But what does strategic thinking mean? How do we think strategically? I know that there are many tools and methods that people and organisations use to think strategic. Some include the SWOT and the PESTLE. In the Army we have a Military Appreciation Process for planning operations and exercises. I agree with many of the models that organisations use and I think that they are useful. Do we dig in deep enough within these models?
I have observed that many people and organisation use a template to the way they plan and think strategically. Though they are good methods the problem I see the most is the way they are applied. People tend to fill them in as a checklist and hence fail to get the most benefit out of them. I believe that to get the best out of the strategic planning you need to ask questions and dig in deep to the situation and the options.
I have found that when thinking strategic asking “what does that mean?” over and over again helps to be able to get a much more meaningful answer to questions. This I think has been where I get the most benefit in the strategic planning process. When it comes time to develop a plan, look at contingencies or ask questions, the asking of questions at the start has always paid dividends.
On Monday, after a week away, I was on my way to the office. The office is just down the road from where I live, so it is not a long drive. However it was long enough to enjoy the beautiful day. And what a beautiful day it was…. The sun was shining, everywhere was green after the rain we had had. And the mountains in the distance were covered in snow. It was a lovely scene….
It got me thinking about everything that I should be grateful for. I am blessed in my life and there is so much that I should really be grateful for…. No wonder I was bouncing at the office that day. It is really funny how when you are grateful for what you have in your life, you also get energised. When you are thankful for life and also to others, you receive so much in return.
The other thing about this moment on the way into the office was the way I was present in the moment. Being present in the moment, actually enabled me to see the full beautiful picture that lay in front of me. I know that at times I am in such a rush to get places that I miss the beautiful view right in front of me.
Some points to ponder today:
- What are three things that you are grateful for today?
- How did you celebrate these grateful moments?
- What can you do to further celebrate these grateful moments?
I know that in nearly everything that I do there is a number of other people that are part of the activity. Commonly know as stakeholders, these people play an important role in what I do. Whether we are talking about business associates, clients or friends, I find communication is very important when dealing with stakeholders.
How you been in the situation where you are progressing with a project, just to find that the key stakeholders had a different view of the project? I know I have. I know that in the world we live in, there is more and more communication online and not as much face to face. This has caused unique challenges for me. For example in my Army Reserve Unit, I am the only sub unit commander that is not located in Sydney (where our higher headquarters are).
So what can we do to keep stakeholders in the loop? Some of the things that I do are:
- Regular meetings or phone discussions with my boss and his key staff
- Regular communication with my staff through email and face to face
- Before an important meeting touching base with the attendees to discuss the items on the agenda and other key issues
- Having regular updates on projects sent out to the project team
- Having an agenda sent out prior to a meeting and also have minutes sent out afterwards
Doing these things and others, I have found prevents unpleasant surprises, while also ensuring that the stakeholders are aligned.
- So what situations do you have that make it difficult to keep stakeholders in the loop?
- Who are the key stakeholders in this activity?
- How do you work to keep the stakeholders in the loop?