Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Just Five More Minutes...

I really like my work.

No that's not right, I really, REALLY like my work...so why is it soooo harrrrrd on the first day back after a holiday?

And it wasn't like my holiday was extensive or exotic, instead it was just four days at home doing lots of gardening and household jobs and spending 'quality time' with my small sausage dog; but nevertheless getting up this morning was an effort equivalent of scaling everest and at 8:46pm I'm ready for bed.

Perhaps I'm just getting old?

Well of that there is absolutely no doubt! but it's probably not age that causes my problems getting back in the swing of things, it's habit.

Scientific evidence proves that difficult things are hard to do, especially when we find them physically, mentally or emotionally challenging. If we had to muster equivalent effort to do the difficult things we do every day we would fail all the time.

So how do we get anything done?

Difficult things aren't achieved with extraordinary efforts in one foul swoop. Instead they are achieved by small habitual efforts over time. Habit causes the body and brain to almost disregard the effort being expended, instead just seeing the habitual activity as an everyday part of life.

This is why marathon runners can run marathons, why E.R Doctors and Nurses can work at such high levels of stress over such long periods of time and why Parents can operate 24/7, 365 for 18 plus years; its all a matter of habit.

So when my 5am alarm doesn't go off, my body is active vs. sedentary and my mind is focused on things other than organizational design and development, my ingrained habits start eroding and the question of 'do I REALLY need to get up ' surfaces.

The answer is YES.

The reason is because I Love my work.

But I Love my holidays too :-)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Messing around in the dirt

My Mum & Dad are awesome gardeners, here they are showcasing some of the fabulous sunflowers they grew for my brother & sister-in-law's wedding, truly they are talented in all matters horticultural!
Consequently I was blessed to grow up in the Hertfordshire equivalent of the Garden of Eden! we had lovely spring daffodils, crocuses, tulips, moving on to summer roses, hollyhocks and honeysuckle and then in the Autumn my Dad's piece d' resistance - the chrysanthemums. In addition to all the floral stuff we had beans, potatoes, tomatoes and carrots; as you do and of course I took it all completely for granted, clearly that was just the way gardens happen right?

Errr wrong!

When I moved into Smith Towers almost eight years ago, I looked with ignorant shame at the miserly flowerbeds not more than a foot wide at any point they were filled with 'cheaters' plants - hostas & day lillies - in my foolish dreams I thought it would take no more than a few weekends 'messing around in the dirt' to recreate my parents idyllic garden paradise in Minnesota.

Of course Mum & Dad helped; Dad dug (actually he double dug in the rain!) two great 'rose' beds leading up my front path, and Mum planted hundreds of bulbs, and it all looked so lovely, perfect and weed free...
 ...and then they left.

Not content with at least 50% more flower beds in my wisdom I widened borders, added a soaker system with automatic timers, and attempted to replicate the lush, colorful English garden of my childhood.

In no particular order here are the lessons I learned:
1. My tolerance for working hard in the heat is very low, so there are two optimal weekends for me to work in the garden; Memorial day weekend & Labor day weekend. If it can't be accomplished in these times I shouldn't even think about it!
2. Mowing the lawn is gardening too...just not the exciting, fulfilling, productive kind. Because Tipsy-sausage is unable to use the mower I need to get mowing hired in!
3. Regardless of how many times you replant expensive roses in lovingly dug flower beds, if they are fighting for survival with 40 year old maple tree roots its a recipe for disaster/frustration/loss of cash!
4. Soaker hoses need pulling up each year, so if you don't want to have to do that don't put them down in the first place!
5. Things that grow in England don't necessarily grow in Minnesota!
6. Green fingers, thumbs or other body parts are not necessarily genetic and in fact may well skip whole generations!

Today the gardens at Smith Towers are marvels of self sufficiency and resilience in the face of wonton neglect and sporadic attention. I've discovered the miracle of hostas & day lilies, become eternally grateful for self-set peonies, wild daisies and raspberries that won't take no for an answer.

 And finally I appreciate all the imagination, planning, hard work, and never ending devotion that leads to a beautiful garden. It's truly a Labor of Love.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Accentuate the Positive...

...Eliminate the Negative.

These are the words of an old song that was popular in the 40's - I bet my Dad knows every word!

I LOVE the message in this song and believe it speaks SO strongly to things that make folks joyful in work and life. Here are a few of the links I see:

1. STRENGTHS! Everyone has unique strengths, things that only they are able to do brilliantly. Often these strengths are overlooked or missed completely because we are too busy trying to be like someone else. If only we could accentuate our positives (strengths) and eliminate our negatives (weaknesses) I think the world of work would be a MUCH better place. Do you know what your strengths are and are you using them everyday?

2. WHO'S ON THE BUS? In the world of work we get to interact with a whole array of different folk, some we are immediately drawn to and some we're not. But regardless of our personal preference, in order for organizations (buses) to be successful we have to give them a fighting chance, we have to believe that we are making a difference, that our efforts are worthwhile and 'Keep Hope Alive' as my good friend JM would say.  If we can't do that and find ourselves in a reoccurring negative state about our work, we should think carefully about whether we are on the right bus or not. Buses can't get far with some people on the gas and others on the brake. Are you on the right bus?

3. YOU CAN DO IT! "No News is Good News" NO! at work "No News" is a TERRIBLE, CRUEL AND ABUSIVE state! As human beings we crave connection and feedback, even the most self motivated person needs feedback and encouragement from others some time. Catching people doing things right (recognition) is the EASIEST thing in the whole world to do, but the infrequency with which it happens you would think we have to barter our firstborn to give it out! Conversely criticism flourishes in the workplace, often it flourishes behind the 'target's' back, so they never get the benefits of the feedback, but we do a great job of instilling doubt in others minds and creating mistrust where it never should be. Lets change this right now! Catch someone doing something right and be lavish in our praise!

4. ELIMINATE! Do you have piles of UFO's (Un-Finished-Objectives) following you around at work? If you do, the chances are that they are weighing you down, making you feel burdened and ill at ease. Perhaps you start early, work late and never take vacation because of these UFO's. And guess what? If you keep them they will always be yours. Watching professional organizers is an interesting lesson for Longtime-UFO-Carriers; professional organizers are RUTHLESS in what they throw-out, recycle, re-purpose, sell or gift to others. What UFO's do you need to eliminate in order to accentuate the positive at work?

So starting today let's ACCENTUATE the :-) and ELIMINATE the :-(

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Rest

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. 
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Falling off the Wagon...

Does that ever happen to you? You get all excited about something - literally hitch yourself to a new wagon - perhaps even buy new equipment, clothing, shoes and accessories then all of a sudden you find the wagon has left but you're still where you were - with a whole bunch of new stuff - clearly the hitching came undone somewhere along the trail!

Well it appears that's what may have happened with me and my poor sweet blog :-( I started with a great RUSH of enthusiasm, fueled by my desire to write a book, blogging seemed like a lovely simple 'warm-up' exercise. I got into a great routine blogging daily or thereabouts and became completely hooked on the stats page which let me know who was reading the blog from where in the world, and then...

.............nothing, nada, zip

And I missed you!

But I'm back, well at least for today!!

'Falling off the wagon' has some dubious connotations often relating to drinking or other addictive habits, but for me being on and off wagons is really a way of life.

Like you I have many influences and choices in my life all representing different wagons, some of which appear to be traveling in vastly different directions. In order to make any progress in life, we have to choose which wagon(s) we're going to jump on and which we're going to let pass us by. We can't ride all the wagons all the time, there just isn't enough of us to go round.

Some wagons we ride we have no choice about, we may have been born into them or have them foisted upon us as a result of circumstance, but other wagons we can choose. We can choose to get on AND we can choose to get off.

Today I'm choosing to get back on my Joy, Love and Work blog wagon, and if you choose it too lets strap ourselves in and get ready for another GREAT adventure on this wagon of words!

Yeeee Haaaa!

Friends @ Work

Apart from the wonderful clump of church friends I grew up with back in my home town of Ware, where? yes exactly! Almost all of my best friends are people I've worked with at one time or another.

I know some people shy away from getting 'too close' to folks at work and I somewhat understand that; after all it is tricky to challenge a 'friend' about performance related issues or even worse having to lay a friend off from a job. But I have experienced both ends of that scale, I've laid off friends and been laid off by a friend and our friendships still work, even though we don't get to see each other as often as we would like.

My Dad is a great example for me of managing friendships with people at work, he's a very outgoing, jovial kind of chap and has many 'friends' but his very best work friend is Uncle Ken. Interestingly they did not like each other at first, but then worked together for many years, went through trials, hopeless bosses, organizational changes, power shifts and everything else that happens everyday at work, and throughout it all their friendship grew and strengthened.

Listening to them sharing stories of working together is hilarious, it's amazing that any work ever got done with all the practical jokes, teasing and general hilarity that went on, but I think those memories are what bonds them together, and it's bond that's lasted over forty years.

Anyway back to friends @ work.  Some folks would have you believe that you can just come in to work, glide through your inbox, your patient rosta, your mis-en-place or whatever it is you do on a daily basis and so long as you 'get the job done' you really don't need anyone else. 

I think that's a sad way to work and a sad way to live and here's why...

1. We spend approximately a third of our adult lives at work and as humans we crave connection with others. Do we really think we can live as islands at work and leave the connecting to the other third of our life? (the third third we're sleeping!)

2. Work is hard, even work that isn't physically or mentally hard gets hard over time because of repetition, working conditions, work load and a thousand other reasons. Just doing hard work on our own is exhausting, but having a friend to carry the load or just raise a smile makes even the hardest work feel a little better.

3.  You never know where a work friendship will take you. It may take you to foreign lands, to experience different cultures, to look at life from another perspective or like my Dad and Uncle Ken it may take you way past that job, through the rest of your life and well into retirement. 

So I say, GO MAKE FRIENDS with the people you work with! Obviously not all of them will be the right kind of friends for you but some will, and those friendships will make all the difference.

As for me, I'm SO grateful for my friends @ work, for Debbie, Ruth, Joanna, Emma, Trent, Paul, Paula, Sue, Karla, Kevin, Amy, Jennifer, Judy, John, Lynette, Bob, Trudy, Kristin, Yvonne, Kathy, John, Laura, Karen, Brandi, Wendy, Stephanie, Pam, Paula, Shelly, Judy, Barrrb and SO many more.

I have no idea what my work and life would be like without them and I'm very glad I don't have to find out :-)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chunk it Down Baby, Chunk it Down!


Apologies for the radio silence, but hopefully you'll be impressed that in addition to the forty-something birthday I also managed to fit in a pilot program, royal wedding celebrations (complete with cucumber sandwiches, bunting and BIG hats) and MULTIPLE birthday celebrations, so it's not that I've been idle or ignoring you without due cause!

But back to Joy, Love and Work...

Question: How do you eat an elephant?
Answer: One bite at a time :-)

I LOVE this quote because it makes really big, scary, intimidating things much more do-able, chunking big stuff down is the universal answer that makes exceptional results possible; often it's what separates the winners from the losers.

What's a BIG elephant to you? what could you never imagine being able to achieve? what are those things that you REALLY want to do but just don't think it will ever happen?

Chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk...

What logical or illogical pieces could your BIG elephant be broken down into?

Chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk...

What piece needs to happen first? what next, and next, then what?

Chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk...

Who can support you in getting each of the pieces done?

Chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk...

What's your first step? when will you do it?

Chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk...

Get the idea?

If it's BIG and important to get done then Chunk it down baby, chunk it down!