One session once a week is not enough when you are training a new puppy. He is excited and everything is new and he is bound to forget what you just taught him, distracted by a butterfly or the ball or the wind blowing in his fur. Quick praise when you catch him doing something right and understanding when he makes the inevitable oops is all part of the process.
New people onboarding into the organization are not unlike this new puppy. If you made a good hiring decision, they are eager, excited and anxious to learn. Too often the training is strong that first shift, day, week, then nada. The puppy training contract states “In order for you and your puppy to benefit from these classes, we recommend training in 5 minute intervals three to four times a day.”
Now I know people are not puppies, but I also know that new is new. New hires can be overwhelmed with the amount of information that they are ingesting, the new people they are meeting, the new building they need to navigate, the new rules about how to act. Invest in the time, the training, the relationship, up front while they are still puppies, follow up, and build the bond. Soon the investment pays off as you have helped to grown your team and as a side effect, yourself.
We are all perfect, divine beings with access to unlimited potential, yet the dichotomy of it is that we are also damaged goods. Infinite beings with so much light inside, but damaged by the baggage we hold onto from our life experiences. The painful, the failures, the falls, the rejections. As Grown Ups we think we handle those things. We bury them deep and are Oh So Mature about them. We think we have resolved them or dealt with them and even get better at ignoring them, until we don’t. The inevitable trigger that reaches deep and like an arrow pierces deeply through our shields to remind us again that we are human. The old feelings rise back up in a blink of an eye, the door opened by one upset daughter, or disapproving mom, disappointed spouse or judgmental boss.
If we are going to understand and accept ourselves, we need to realize that we are more than just a body. We are two fold beings, and need to take care of the non-physical side of our nature, our inner health, as much as our physical side. When we are frustrated, upset, needy, angry, sad, depressed, these are all pointing at unresolved wounds deep inside. I dream that I will become a being that won’t feel these painful emotions, yet I know that they are here to teach me to let go of the old stories, to uncover the old cuts and burns and let them feel the air, to heal another layer. As long as I am here on this earth in this body, I will have opportunity after opportunity to learn and let go.
It is a very small percentage and shrinking number of people who buy books. An even smaller number who actually read the books they buy. I am one of those individuals, and judging by the disappearing bookstores I am in the minority. There are stacks of them on my nightstand, on my desk, on my windowsill, and there are bookshelves in our garage that hold books that are not in my current rotation. The books that are stacked are mostly partially read. Some I finished and loved, so they stay nearby. Some I will never finish, and that’s okay. I know that I got what I needed to get from them already, completed or not. I read to learn, I read to escape, I read to be inspired, I read because I like feeding my mind intentionally. There is so much data and information and static coming at me all day long, from the radio in the car to the TV on in the other room to the seductive Instagram and Pinterest and all of the constant influx of stuff that bombards my consciousness. So I read, it is my quiet time, one of the ways I decompress from the day or set the foundation for it, the way I calm myself down, the way I tap into a part of me that is usually hidden. It’s the way I feed my mind.
Books I am reading now:
The Punch Escrow – Tal Klein Sci-Fi, amazing to me since what was once a dream often comes true, plus it was published right here in Oakland, CA, Love that!
21 Laws of Leadership – John Maxwell Always on my desk.
Do the Work – Steven Pressfield Easy read, helps me break through the inevitable resistance that rears it’s head.
How to Know God – Deepak Chopra Feeds my soul and gives me insight into my ever evolving relationship with the higher power.
After On – Rob Reid An escape novel, reading it slowly, but it’s in our backyard (Silicon Valley) and that’s the draw.
It’s harder to rest sometimes than it is to just go. It can be a constant struggle for me as I bounce between the extremes of being too busy and then slowing down. I often feel that if I stop for a moment I will lose my momentum and have to work twice as hard to get back to where I was. Then I learned about the power of disengaging. That it is even more important to stop and slow down as you are moving forward. The clarity I get when I pause and look around is only attainable by remembering to sharpen the saw.
Once upon a time there were two men in a wood-chopping contest. They were tasked with chopping down as many trees in the forest as they could from sun-up to sun-down. The winner would be rewarded with both fame and fortune.
From morning till noon, both men steadily chopped and chopped. By noon they were neck and neck, but then one man took a break and stopped chopping. The other man saw this and thought to himself: “The lazy fool, he’s probably taken a break for lunch. He’s given me a chance to get ahead of him and I will without doubt win this contest!”
A while later the man got back to work. As the day continued he chopped more trees than his hard-working (and hungry) competitor and by mid-afternoon he had taken a clear lead.
When sundown came, the man who had taken the break at noon had chopped almost twice as many trees as the other man, who was drenched in sweat, hungry and exhausted.
“How did you beat me?” he asked puzzled. “You were lazier than I and even took a break for lunch!”
“Ah,” said the other man, “I did take a break, but it was during that break, that I sharpened my axe.”
Who’s in charge here? Can you tell by looking at someone? Do they look powerful? Tall, strong, with a take charge attitude? Some of our leaders are men, some are women. Some are tall, some are small, some vocal and loud, some quiet and diminutive. They are a diverse group of individuals, yet all share many of the same traits. They are eager to learn, they love people, they believe in making a difference, and not only the desire but the motivation to do what it takes to improve life for themselves, their families, and the people they work with.
It’s a misconception that management and leadership are the same thing. To think that because you are in charge, people should do what you say. Unless you are in the military I would venture to say that this is not how it works. It’s not that a manager can’t enforce policy, but what happens when he is not there? True leadership is the ability to influence people, even when you are not present. It is the process of creating buy-in to a picture of a better workplace, a better life, a better world. Can you manage and lead? Absolutely, it is necessary, especially in our business. Our leaders need to manage their labor costs, their food and supply expenses, the scheduling, even the flow of guests that come in to our restaurants. However, the even more important part of their job, the foundation of it all, is their leadership abilities. This begins with connecting, with listening, with serving and supporting the people you are leading, and understanding that it is all a process, not a destination.
The conversation you have in your head where you tell them exactly what you think. The one that states your opinions, your judgements, your reactions, the “brutal truths”. It is often better to leave these conversations in your head. Or better yet to halt them before you waste your energy having them even with yourself. If you are honest with yourself, you know how they play out, and it never ends well. You may think you will feel better once you get it off your chest, but the result is rarely what you had hoped. Once it’s out you can’t take it back. So talk yourself down, calm your self righteousness. Drink some water and breathe. Whew.
As we enter the last month of 2017, I am spending more time reflecting. Thinking back over the year and remembering the lessons. I know that if I can’t see the lessons I have learned this year, I am destined to repeat them next year. I want to make sure I extract the gold from the tough times, the aha’s, the insights. My process is to capture them in writing, and in the process I realize how much happens in a year. Time is a strange thing, when you are waiting to turn 16, or 18, or 21 it seems to take forever. When you have a vacation planned, or a big goal set for the future, time can seem to move so slowly as you wait for it to arrive. However, when I look back through the year I am always taken by surprised that things that happened 6 months ago can seem like 2 years have passed.
So here I sit, with a blank sheet of paper and a pen. I find a quiet space and say a prayer of thanks to God, to the Universe, to my body, for the ability to see, to write, to remember and to think.
Step One: I brainstorm all of the lessons I can remember from this year, mentally going month by month through the year.
Step Two: I get my phone and open up my pictures app. I scroll back to January, and look through all of the photos. I begin a second list of all of the things I am grateful for, triggered by the photos and memories stored in my little device. This also brings more lessons to the forefront, so I have 2 lists going simultaneously now.
Step Three: I go through my 2017 calendar, and here comes another wave of memories, lessons and gratitudes
I date and sign the paper, and set it aside. I will bring it out again next week, early in the morning, in a quiet place, and read it. What is amazing is that when I read it next, with a fresh mind, it will bring back all the lessons and feelings of gratitude, and I will be in the perfect place to plan out an amazing 2018.