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Posts Tagged ‘Initiative’

I can’t participate in that training. My company won’t pay for it. 

Have you ever said that? I know I have, back before I realized my personal development is 100% MY responsibility. Now I know that the money, time, and energy I invest in developing me is the BEST investment I’ll ever make in my life…and the dividends are beyond amazing!

I was foolish enough to limit my learning, and by extension my potential, based on what my employer was willing to pay for. Looking back, I feel so silly. You see, I’ve learned that if you want to reach your potential, your development is your responsibility, no one else’s. And if you choose to leave it up to someone else, be prepared to live the life they design for you. When I was in that mode — leaving my development up to someone else — I ended up in some places that held no interest for me and were so far from my strength zones it wasn’t even funny!

I spent two full days in Excel training because my boss at the time, an engineer masquerading as an HR person, used Excel for everything and thought I should be an expert at it, as well. It didn’t matter that my official area of expertise, at the time, was corporate communication, and unofficially, people development! I still have the “keyboard short-cuts cheat sheet” the trainer provided, but none of it makes much sense to me.

Many years earlier in my career, I spent three months plodding my way through a web development/programming course because a different manager thought I should be responsible for all aspects of our organization’s web site — content (which made sense, based on my position), design, and the technical operations. Never mind that we had a fully-staffed design group and a web developer on staff. It was a life-sucking three months.

At both of those times in my career, my level of awareness about my potential and my responsibility for my growth obviously wasn’t very high. I didn’t realize I had choices about what I learned and how I applied it. I didn’t realize it was ok for me to spend  money on my own development (beyond all the books I bought and devoured on a regular basis). Today, I can guarantee you, I wouldn’t be wasting a moment of my life’s energy on such folly; not only do I know my passion, purpose, and calling with great clarity, I also understand my growth is my responsibility — I get to drive this bus and I am on a journey!

This self-imposed constraint was brought to my awareness last week when I sat next to a delightful young woman on my return flight from a speaking engagement in Phoenix. A recruiter for an engineering firm headquartered in Charlotte, NC, she was studying for her SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) Professional in HR accreditation exam on the plane, which opened the door to a great conversation. 

As it turned out, she was taking the exam of her own accord; her employer wasn’t even aware she was studying for it. She planned to use her success with the exam to begin a conversation about her future with the organization and the opportunity to branch into other areas of HR beyond talent acquisition. She was confident that by investing in herself and taking the initiative to study for and earn her PHR would send the message that she has a lot more potential and drive than they might recognize.

My question to you is this: Whose responsibility is your development? 

In the past 2.5 years, I have invested enough cash to have purchased a new Volvo XC60, and countless hours in learning, with coaches, mentors, and others in like-minded, growth-oriented communities and programs. I can honestly say that the person I was at the beginning of 2012 very nearly no longer exists in comparison with the person who is typing this blog. My life is extremely different, fuller, more satisfying, with great promise to continue getting better each day.

I don’t say this to impress you, but to impress upon you how important it is to take responsibility for your development, financially as well as regards time and energy. It will open doors for you that you probably can’t even imagine today. It will change your life in amazing ways.

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Changing anything, if you want the change to be sustainable, requires a process. While it would be delightful (and nothing short of miraculous!) to be able to not eat any sweets for one full day — for example — and lose all the weight you want to drop and look amazing in your clothes the next day, we know it isn’t possible.

Making the change begins with an idea, a desire…to do, be, or have something different than your current conditions and circumstances allow. Once the idea has grown and developed and taken root in our minds, we must then make the DECISION to act. Action requires forethought, intentionality and commitment to continuing to act, DAILY!

Here’s an example. It’s the story of an Australian woman who recognized the need to make some significant changes in several areas of her life, and she started with one small, simple act: Gratitude posts on her Facebook page. Some days they were pretty mundane, some days more significant. The point is, she looked for reasons to be grateful, and found them! When she found them, she considered them and shared them. These are small, daily steps in the right direction.

I would imagine that on some days it was pretty challenging, other days might have been easier — with the challenge being more about which one thing to focus on out of many reasons to be grateful. As her year progressed, she made other changes in her behaviors, sometimes enlisting support from her friends (think — inner circle — those people who should support, encourage, and complement you).

It’s a process. Process begins with a single step, followed by more single steps, and before you know it, you’re on track and moving forward.

What is it you want to change about yourself or your conditions and circumstances this year?

What is the one simple step you can start with?

What will you allow to get you off track once you’ve started?

Whose support can you enlist to help you along the way?

Start today! You’ll be better for it.

Then come back and tell me what you did and how it felt. Looking forward to hearing your stories!

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If there’s one thing we must have learned so far through this intentional leadership journey it’s that leaders are active, not passive. They get things started; they take initiative. When others hesitate or do not know which way to go, Leaders know the way and show the way. Leaders do not succumb to doubt and fear, rather, they demonstrate courage and step forward  to move their teams/organizations ahead.

We’ve also been reminded that leadership is a process, a journey, and whatever we learn on our journey will have no lasting value until we apply it.

I encourage you to step forward today, to take initiative on something you’ve been thinking of for a while, but have hesitated on taking action. Send doubt and fear to the back of the bus, as they say, and step forward in strength, courage, boldness, and assurance that you are growing as a leader and making a difference for your team, your organization, and yourself.

If you never start, you’ll never get to where you long to be.

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And so, we have reached the end of week four of our eleventh month on this Intentional Leadership* journey! It’s time, again, for our Friday ritual; if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know where I’m headed; if you’re relatively new, jump in, you might find this useful!

As you head into the weekend, I ask you to consider how you approach your weekends. Many people rush into it with a need for rest, maybe some idea of what they would like to do or get done over the weekend, but often just move through it haphazardly, seeing where the days and hours take them.

As we are focused on becoming more intentional, I encourage you to consider a different approach to weekends (or whatever days are your typical days off!).

How might your life be different if you took a more intentional approach to your time off? What might that impact? Energy levels, relationships, projects?

How might your Monday be different if you took the time over the weekend to prepare for it, in whatever way makes sense for you?

To get you started, here are some questions to ponder:

What do those close to you need from you this weekend?

What do you need from this weekend?

How much time and attention will you allot to rest, projects, fun, relationships, future preparation?

How do you want to feel on Monday? What can you do to prepare for that?

What do you have going on in the coming weeks or months? What can you do now to prepare for that?

I’ve been traveling a bit more than usual the past few weeks, which means I’ve not had as much time to devote to some administrative tasks; that’s caught up with me, so I will spend some time on those tasks this weekend, along with organizing my home office space (purchased a new desk recently, which resulted in a lot of rearranging and reorganizing…not quite done, but making progress and it feels good!).

In addition, I am working my way through a significant, life-changing transition, so have some thinking to do in this area, and some planning, as well — for the coming weeks and for many weeks into the future. I also have some speaking engagements on my calendar, so need to prepare for those audiences.

As usual, family time, exercise time, rest, and reading.

However you decide to spend your weekend, I hope it’s intentional!

“See” you Monday! We will start our twelfth and final month on our Intentional Leadership journey on Monday; watch for Month 11 wrap-up and Month 12 preview over the weekend.

*From the Intentional Leadership booklet by Giant Impact.

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As we come near the end of our month of focus on “initiative,” how could your life and the lives of others be different if you master the art of taking initiative?

What might that do for your career?

What might that do for your personal life?

I challenge you, today, to make taking initiative a core facet of your leadership journey.

If you don’t, what affect will it have on yourself, others, your organization?

In other words…what do you have to lose? What do you have to gain?

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Now that you’ve defined your BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal — see yesterday’s post, if this doesn’t make sense to you), spend some time with someone you trust today and share it with them. Ask them for their input on it, and ask them to join you on your quest to go after it (taking the initiative!).

Make note of their thoughts and insights as you discuss it. Then set some time aside, with this person, in several weeks to review the progress you’ve made toward reaching your BHAG.

What are you learning through the process?

How might you have approached it differently?

What help, support, encouragement did you get?

What more did you need?

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Last week, I spent a few days with a group of like-minded, growth-oriented people from across the US and Canada. We were talking about our dreams and what it takes to bring them to fruition (it was a lot more profound than this, but simply put, that was the focus). One recurrent theme was “Dream Big.”

Dream Big!

After all, what’s the point of dreaming if you aren’t going to Dream Big?!

And why wouldn’t we dream big within our organizations, as well? Typically, in organizations, we speak of the BHAG — or Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (Thank you, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras), which is a “commitment to challenging, audacious, and often risky goals and projects towards which a visionary company channels its efforts.”

What BHAG would propel your organization forward?

How can you use it to inspire others?

What steps would you need to take to initiate this BHAG?

What will you do, now, to get started?

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