July 2023

  • Time: our most precious resource (2 of 3)

    While there are exceptions, I believe people are fairly good at doing more of the things they really love and doing less of the things they really hate. Are you obsessed with trying new restaurants? My guess is you’re going to find yourself eating out a lot. Do you absolutely hate your boss, your company, and your role? That kind of recurring negative experience is probably a pretty good motivator to make a change.

    Unfortunately, much of our experience falls somewhere in between really good and really bad. There is lots of ‘ok’, which is one more reason it’s so important to be intentional and deliberate about how we use our time. Returning to the job example: let’s say you don’t hate your job, but it’s not a great experience; it’s ok. There are some pluses and minuses. It can be easy to remain in an ok place for years despite there being a significant opportunity cost. Time spent doing something ‘ok’ could be time spent seeking and finding something good (or great).

    Obviously, our rampant use of social media is well-discussed and documented. It’s another example, which for most people probably fits in the ‘ok’ bucket. If you planned out your day, would you consciously set aside [1] hour to be on [Instagram/Reddit/Twitter/Facebook/etc…] each day? Probably not. But it’s not that hard to unintentionally do.

    Another way time can quickly be absorbed unwillingly is due to social pressure and obligation. Have you ever gone to an event, met someone for a coffee, or taken a phone call, when you really didn’t want to but felt obligated? I certainly have (and still do, occasionally). If you highly value your time, it’s important to build the muscle of respectfully saying ‘no’. Saying ‘no’ can be incredibly liberating and is a key skill set in taking control of how your time is spent.

  • Time: our most precious resource (1 of 3)

    In 2014, my best friend, Barry, died in a tragic motor accident while traveling in Vietnam. This week would have been his 34th birthday. It is sad and cliché, but authentic to say, that this is the first genuine appreciation I felt for the phrase “life is short”. Ever since, I have spent a lot of time… thinking about time.

  • Unmet, unspoken expectations are not broken promises

    Unmet, unspoken expectations can breed resentment. It happens all the time. Let’s say you’re having a conversation with your direct report, Robyn, about a new billing process that was recently implemented, and you both wholeheartedly agree it’s not working. It’s causing your clients a lot of frustration. Robyn says she has a few ideas on ways to improve the process and she’ll make sure to sort it out. Two weeks go by, and you keep hearing new stories from other folks in the organization about upset clients complaining about the billing changes. Then, you start getting annoyed with Robyn. She said she had ideas, and she was going to take care of it! Of course, you never actually explicitly discussed when she would take care of it. In the meantime, Robyn has four other projects on the go, which she believes are much higher priority, and accordingly, she has planned to tackle the billing process issues at the end of the month. So Robyn has no concept of your slowly building resentment because neither of you actually spoke clearly about what the expectation was.

    Setting clear expectations is an undervalued and incredibly important skill set. So often, we create our own version of expectations, without explicitly clarifying them. We leave a conversation with someone, each having a very different set of expectations for priority, importance, and timeline.

    There’s so much written about the value of providing your team members with autonomy and avoiding ‘micromanagement’. If you’re onboarding a new employee and speaking to them about how they like to be managed, there’s a good chance you’ll hear that they do NOT want to be micromanaged. Which makes sense of course. However, there is a huge difference between setting clear expectations and micromanaging someone.  

    I know my own aversion to micromanaging my team has on occasion led to the unintentional consequence of being too vague on expectation setting, which is ultimately problematic for everyone. Being extremely clear and mutually agreeing upon deadlines (including specific dates and times), and quality and scope of work expectations, can save everyone a headache and avoid the resentment that is bred from unmet and unspoken expectations.