What am I working on?

I believe that wisdom can only be created through our own action and effort. We do that by exhausting our own resources working on problems, ideas, and asking ourselves tough questions. Here you will find (almost) daily posts of the things I'm trying to figure out for myself. Have a quick scroll through and see if you can find something that interests you :)

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I will deliberately choose the challenging work because…

  1. I know it’s good for me
  2. I know it brings out the best in me
  3. I know I’ll learn, grow and get better
  4. I know I’ll discover what I’m truly capable of (thanks, Steven)
  5. I know I’ll feel great about work when I’m on the other side
  6. I know I’ll be reminded of what’s important to me
  7. I get to ask my peers for help

What’s another reason why we should choose the challenging work?

Head over to LinkedIn and add your thoughts.

Saying “no” is the outcome of more important work…

I think we all instinctively know that saying yes to everything is a recipe for disaster.

But if you’ve tried to say no more often, you’ll know how difficult it can be to say no and actually feel like you’re doing the right thing for the right reasons.

In short, it’s not just about saying no, it’s about being able to do it and not feel like a dick about it.

We can get inspired when we see someone saying no and doing it well, but what you’re not seeing is the foundational work they did to get there.

So, what is this ‘work’ they’ve done?

  1. They got clear on what’s important to them, and there will be a specific order.
  2. They got clear on their values and principles that help them make choices and decisions.
  3. They got clear on the behaviours that support said values and principles.
  4. They then set clear boundaries that protect and honour those values and principles.
  5. Then they can say no with integrity. Then they can say no without feeling guilty about it. Then they can say no and know that it’s for the best.

This then allows them to spend the time in the areas that are important to them and not spend time in the areas that are not important.

I think most people try to do this almost in reverse…they get excited and romantic about the idea of saying no, and they start trying to say no to things, thinking it’ll immediately improve their life, but the ability to say no and stay within your integrity is the outcome of this important work, not the work itself.

So, if you find that you continually struggle to say no to people, it’s likely because you haven’t followed the steps above.

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Falling in love with feedback

“I love getting feedback…”

Who can honestly say this about themselves?

I certainly want to say this about me. I know that feedback is going to help me, but I don’t know that I love it. I don’t know that I’m all that great at seeking it.

What I do know is this: My ability to seek, receive and use feedback is correlated to the trajectory for success in my career.

This reminds me of a moment when I was in the thick of it as I transitioned from entrepreneur to employee.

Many things changed about my work.

Specifically:

  • I was given a manager
  • I was given a scorecard
  • I was given performance reviews
  • I was given a lot of feedback

A bit of a shock to the system when you’re used to working for yourself!

Early on in this transition I was tasked by my manager to proactively seek feedback from three key cross functional people in the organisation.

(Part of me wishes I figured out this for myself…but therein lies one of the benefits of having a great manager.)

Here are the questions that shaped those conversations:

  1. What’s one thing I do that you believe is helping to contribute to the success of our team?
  2. What’s one thing that I do that you believe is detracting from the success of our team?
  3. What’s something you’d like to see me doing better that you feel will contribute to the success of our team, and ultimately help me to become a more valuable team player?

So, here’s today’s challenge – take these questions, carefully select one key person that will provide you with valuable, direct and honest answers, and maybe you’ll start falling in love with getting feedback.

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Where in my day did I feel a sense of connection or closeness?

Back in July I added a new prompt to my daily journaling routine, and it’s had such a profound impact on me that I’ve addressed it every single day since.

What’s interesting about this specific prompt is that it helped me see that I was missing something in my life that I didn’t even know I was missing!

**The prompt**: Where in my day did I feel a sense of connection or closeness?

If you had asked me before July if I was feeling disconnected from people I would have said that I wasn’t. I was perfectly fine not seeing people all that much and working alone in my home office, just like I had been for the past 18 months or so. Telling myself that having strong introverted tendencies means that I don’t need to feel close to other people to be happy.

As it turns out, this is not true at all. A major factor that influences my happiness is having a sense of closeness with people. I do need to feel connected to people.

Taking the time at the end of each day to reflect on this forces me to think about the people I’ve spent time with, and has helped me understand the importance of interacting with people on a daily basis.

One of the major outcomes is that I now go out of my way to make sure I spend time with people. In the past I may have seen this as an interruption, but now I welcome it and see it as a priority.

Perhaps that by reading this today you might see that you are also missing something that you thought you didn’t need to feel happier.

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Are you too busy looking for ‘the right job’ instead of working on becoming a better team player?

Is it possible that there are too many people searching for ‘the right job’ rather than working harder on becoming a better team player…?

I know this discussion is not for everyone – some people are working in toxic cultures and should get the f*ck out of there. Sharpish.

What I’m talking about here is the middle. The grey. The nuance. The area between feeling truly happy and fulfilled at work, and working in a toxic culture.

Often times when we’re unhappy at work, the most common and conventional advice is to “go and get a new job.”

A few years ago, as I struggled with the transition from entrepreneur to employee this was the advice I heard time and time again.

Sure…getting a new job could be a solution. But it seemed just a little too straightforward to me. A little too simple. A distraction from more important work.

I knew deep down that it wasn’t the work that was making me unhappy, but that I was unhappy, and I took that unhappiness to my work with me. And there’s a big difference.

Worst case scenario – I spend a lot of time and energy trying to get a new job, and in the end I end up taking my unhappy self with me. Nothing really changes. In fact, I could end up seriously worse off.

So, instead of even looking for a new job, I challenged myself – is it possible that I could be happier at work? What can I change to help me be happier at work? What conditions do I need to create to do my best work?

Knowing that I truly own my happiness, I need to take full responsibility for it. It’s up to me to do something about it. To focus on what I have complete control over.

So…getting a new job might seem like good advice, but there are times when it really is the easier option. The more difficult, and arguably more important work, is staying where you are and working on finding joy and happiness in your own relationship with your work.

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Resentment & Self-Sabotage

When I act and behave in a way that goes against my own values and principles, it’s often as a response to what other people have or haven’t done or said.

It can be an act of punishment – “f*ck you, and if you don’t care [about this thing] then why should I?”

It’s also about me creating expectations for other people’s behaviour based on my own values, which is always going to backfire.

Related Article: Letter XI: Ideals and expectations

What arises is anger, frustration, and the feeling that is mostly prominent in these moments is resentment.

Until this week I thought I resented other people, which, of course, is not a good place to be…but the truth is that I end up resenting myself.

The resentment is for not being true to myself and my own values. For not living with integrity.

So, instead of being easily swayed by other people’s actions and behaviour, and ultimately self-sabotaging, I must come back to my values, do the right thing, and live and act with integrity.

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You can be grateful and unhappy…

After many, many years of building and practicing a habit of gratitude I figured out that, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time.

Who knew 🤷‍♂️

You might be asking yourself – “I’m truly grateful for all I have, but why do I still feel unhappy?” or “Why do I still have a deep level of dissatisfaction?”

I will, of course, continue with my habit, but…

  1. I won’t let gratitude shrink me.
  2. I won’t let gratitude diminish my ambition.
  3. I won’t let gratitude make me feel guilty for wanting more or better.

By sharing this, I hope it helps someone recognise that they are experiencing the same conflict, and perhaps get through it a little faster than I did.

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