Now that I’m less that two months away from hitting the half century (50) mark, felt it was time to reflect on what I’m so grateful for during these last five decades.
In 2010, my father shared some wisdom at his and my mother’s 50th anniversary party: “Have someone to love, love what you do, and have something to look forward to.” Isn’t it best to embrace what your father says, right? Why? Because 424 million paid vacation days went un-used in America in 2012 (source: WSJ, 12/2012). In our house, we have a fun discussion at the beginning of every year to openly share our annual goals, complete with some yummy Reuben sandwiches. We find that this tradition really matters, including every single ingredient, all the way down to the type of mustard on the Reuben. To help ensure accountability, balance, and adjustments that might be necessary throughout the year, we have quick planning discussions every weekend that help us plan our meals, time for exercise, commitments to others (family, friends, and work), and future trips and vacations. Thanks to my Dad’s advice of “have something to look forward to”, we created some very special moments in 2012, centered on sports. Here’s just a few of them:
Super Bowl. One of our bucket list items was accomplished. Living in Indianapolis, why not go see one of your favorite teams play in Super Bowl XLVI? Plus, our dear friends, my parents, nieces and nephew, brother and sis-in-law came in to town to enjoy the festivities. Priceless memories made, even though our team lost.
Tennis. We are huge tennis fans and had not been to the US Open in New York City since the early 1990’s. When do you get the chance to see Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Venus Williams in the same day? Without any tickets, we jumped in the car and drove a couple hours to Cincinnati and saw them play. So worth it!
Indy 500. My family loves this Hoosier tradition; we have been to the Indy 500 for many years. But this year, I was given the opportunity to go around the Speedway track at a very fast speed. Why not, right? Wow, those were an few exhilarating minutes. Took me an hour to settle in, but I called my dad to tell him what I did; he was thrilled I got that opportunity. And, I got to meet and visit with Mario Andretti.
Golf. The PGA returned to The Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, IN. Located just minutes from our place, I walked the course and watched former #1 Tiger Woods and current #1 Rory McIlroy play together. What a treat to see this, because the PGA announced that it also was the tournament of the year.
Boston in Philadelphia. We headed to Lehigh, PA for my cousin’s college graduation ceremony. Not only did we embrace the trip, we also went to see the Phillies vs. Red Sox and the 76ers vs. Celtics, and reconnected with a couple of friends. This renewed relationship is now beyond strong; we’ve already vacationed together and are planning another trip in 2013. My cousin was thankful beyond words, because we were there to see her graduate, through an outdoor ceremony in an absolute rain shower.
Half Marathon. Two of our best girl friends had never been up for running, but run we did. The six of us gals trained for this event (held here in Carmel) and we all finished. We proved we all could do it; the connection and strength gained by completing a difficult task further cemented our relationships. Oh, and then we ate and celebrated the rest of the weekend!
Foul Balls. As Red Sox fans, if they play at Wrigley, isn’t that a must do event? Well of course it is, and bring along your best friends (and their kids who have never been to Wrigley). And during the 5th inning, a foul ball heads our way, and yes, we grab it. What a memory that all of us will never forget, especially as we were telling stories around midnight at the IHOP by Wrigley Field.
Like most of us, we do a great job of planning our to-do lists and daily schedule for the kids’ activities and our work. Try a little self-assessment by asking these few questions: How well are you planning your life? What type of moments are you creating that will impact you and your family forever? What do you want your legacy to be? How will you implement accountability to plan your personal life as diligently as you do the rest of your life? Happy 2013!
Have you ever had that moment in a conversation when someone asked you a few questions, and your answers were a bit unsettling? From 2007-2010, I realized it was going to take some work to be able to answer the three most important questions in my life. So in January 2010, I signed up for a program called “Life Launch,” which helped me to articulate further my answers to these three questions.
1. Are you living where you want to live? My Answer: No.
Realizing that we wanted to be closer to family, live in a larger city, with easy access to a great airport, arts, sports and culture, achieve moderate cost of living with world class health care, we identified five cities that would meet these deep needs. In November of 2011, we relocated to Carmel, IN, and months later, it was named by Money as the #1 place to live in America for small cities. Call that lucky, for sure.
Young adults today have this question figured out. Unlike the Baby Boomer generation who relocated multiple times and lived in the suburbs with long commutes, the trend is that this new generation is courageously moving to where they want to live first, and then finding meaningful work with a limited commute.
2. Are you doing what you want to do? My Answer(s): Yes & No
Marketing had been my life for 20+ years, but I found that I truly enjoyed coaching others and watching them develop. From 2006-2011, I connected with three amazing executive coaches and admired the work they did and how they did it. I soon realized a future role for me was to become a coach. After attending “Life Launch” in early 2010, I completed a year-long coaching certification program that year. It was training that I needed; it helped me become a certified coach, but also a better person, listener, partner, and friend.
We ask people in casual conversations that infamous question, “what do you do?” How incredible could the conversation potentially be if someone asked, “what do you want to become?” or “are you doing what you really want to do?”
Every day, I encourage colleagues and friends to embrace their strengths, because the return on improving your strengths and deploying them is an 8-10X return (StrengthsFinder 34, Rath & Conchie). If you don’t like your job or role and know you that you have strengths being under-utilized, then put your plan in place to soon be doing what you are good at because the return will be much greater.
3. Are you with who you want to be with? My Answer: Yes
In 2007, I broke both wrists in a bad fall. I realized quickly who were the most reliable people in my life. When you can’t feed, wipe, or wash yourself, you truly realize who are your friends and family. That fall helped me realize that I did have the right person in my life, to be my partner. We also realized that our friends were truly incredible; a couple of our friends went to the wayside, but the bulk of our real friends were amazingly there. We also realized that as we age, we wanted to be closer to family so that we could be there for them, if and when needed.
In interviewing the elderly in The Blue Zones, Dan Buettner quickly realized that centenarians have strong social connection locally and regularly. If you aren’t with who you want to be with, his long-living research would hint to resolve that and be with who you want to be with.
As you progress through life, how can you ask yourself these three important questions? How can you ensure that you are living your life, completely on purpose? How can you utilize these questions with loved ones, and give them the gift of listening to their answers? We all can be distracted at times during our lives or even take detours, but these three questions might just help you get back on your purposeful highway of life. Recommend finding a memorable time to annually ask yourself these questions, self assess, and make appropriate adjustments wisely.
My brother called me the afternoon of the 2012 election and said, “Come to the track tonight. We might have some winners.” In his 30 years of training and racing harness horses, he had never done that. So, what do you do? Do you change all your plans and go, or do you wish him good luck and stay at home on the couch watching the election results roll in? We chose to change our plans, drive to the track, and watch him win three of four races in one evening. The lessons learned were plentiful and worth sharing.
Listen. My brother had never called me to say, “Come to the track tonight”. When he did call, I listened to him, his excitement, and his need for someone special to be there to see his success.
Watch. At we sat in the clubhouse, we watched with clear vision how my brother’s horses performed. We even got to see the race replay on the TV at our table.
Support. When Grant’s horses won race after race after race, each and every time we supported him. How? We got up from our table, let our dinner get cold, and sprinted to the winner’s circle to get our picture taken with him, his daughter, the winning horse and (harness horse racing) driver.
Spontaneously Change. Sure, it was a busy day. Just getting to the voting polls and completing a full day of work was an accomplishment. But we committed to changing our evening schedule spontaneously to give time to someone else, and watch them accomplish their goals.
Grow. Because we showed up at the track during a busy day and truly supported him, it sure has further deepened the roots of our healthy relationship. This spontaneous act proved something beyond the ordinary.
Celebrate. Even if you really don’t understand the magnitude of what another person is accomplishing, embrace the moment and celebrate with them. We found that it was a blast sprinting to the winner’s circle three times in one evening and coming back to finish our cold dinner. The others in the clubhouse were sure wishing they could celebrate like that!
What we choose to do and how we choose to do it can help transform and deepen relationships, as well as results. My personal mission statement is Encourage. Embrace. Expand. This was an example of how we embraced an opportunity, encouraged others which will lead to expanding relationships and results.
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings held hands during the National Anthem Wednesday (8/8/2010) evening. They held hands during their late night interview with NBC’s Bob Costas and early morning interview on NBC’s Today Show. This duo is a great partnership of complete excellence.
As three-time gold medal champions in Olympic beach volleyball, Misty and Kerri don’t struggle with nor complain about work life balance. They flipped work life balance on its head. Instead, they completely embraced a purposeful life with goals, and did it. How did they do it?
They are friends, who trust each other immensely. As a great partnership over a 12 year period, they went 21-0 in Olympic competition. They lost just one set in the Athens, Beijing, and London Olympics.
They are wives, with children (Kerri) or kids in the future (Misty). Their husbands completely supported them with this purposeful goal. Yes, these two are loved by their husbands and families, but now adored by the global community.
They are coached. Yes, as good as they are, they have coaches who helped guide them to their third gold medal. Although they won their third gold medal, they still only gave themselves a B plus.
They are confident. How many 33 and 35 year old women would want to play beach volleyball in a two piece swim suit? Who would be comfortable doing that in front of an audience of 15,000?
They are competitive. They weren’t afraid to state that they expected to win the gold medal in London 2012. They set the bar high, and cleared it.
They visualized success. They saw themselves on the gold medal podium, throughout their training and matches. And they celebrated after each winning point, set, and match. Regular and energetic high-fives and fist pumps were a part of their matches.
They are resilient. Misty recovered from a torn Achilles heel, one of the most damaging injuries a world class athlete can face. After having two children, Kerri rebounded to be a stronger and wiser athlete. They adapted and changed their training and communication through the 12 year journey.
They are appreciative. They thanked the 2nd place/silver medal team of Jen Kelly and April Ross for pushing them. They thanked the ‘army of support’ behind them through this journey.
They are inclusive. After every match in London, Misty spoke in to the TV camera and thanked a variety of people and teams (the American troops and the Dodgers); Kerri always recognized and gave high fives to the ball girls and boys; and Misty jogged around the stadium after each win, engaging and thanking the fans. Before one match, they warmed up with a few members of the USA men’s basketball team. Who does that? That makes them so likeable and marketable.
As a business coach, I frequently hear the phrases, “I don’t have time, I struggle with balance, I can’t delegate, I can’t find time to exercise, our team isn’t accountable.” Recommend embracing what this duo did:
1) set purposeful goals (to win their 3rd gold medal, establish a legacy, and change the face of beach volleyball globally),
2) partner with friends or colleagues that you completely trust,
3) gain support of those closest to you,
4) visualize success,
5) celebrate every step along the way,
6) expect a few hurdles along the way but don’t let them stop you, and
7) enjoy the journey.
Recently, I have embraced and experienced two significant transitions. The first one was relocating from a 8,000+ square foot home in a suburb to a 1,275 square foot 2-bedroom flat in an urban arts & cultural district. The second transition included changing jobs, from being a global leader in a Fortune 50 company with revenues of $50+billion to now leading my own small company as well as accepting a role as V.P. of Marketing in a multi-million dollar hi-tech company.
What have I noticed? Lots! Large homes are comfortable, sprawling, and friendly for entertaining. Large multinational companies expose you to global trends, cultures, and realities every minute of a day. However, there are definitely some other differences in going from extra, extra large to medium & small.
Lean with Increased Efficiency. Little Waste or Excess.
In the 2-bedroom flat, we utilize every inch of space in the cabinets, under beds, on the walls, in the closets, and under the sinks. In my own company, my overhead is essential and lean: a new laptop, iPhone, and printer, as well as internet service and file folders. Notice I didn’t mention a desk, a land line, an office chair, or an office. In the fast growing hi-tech company, everyone is using free Internet communication tools. For example, they use Skype to instant message other employees, they listen to their favorite music via Pandora to help themselves stay focused in the narrow confines of their office space, leverage Yammer for internal employee networking and social updates, and Google+ Hangouts is utilized for video conferencing when multiple participants and locations are necessary. Very few employees have offices; most are working in pods, completely focused on working with each other to nail deadlines for the client’s success.
Priorities are a Priority. Less is More.
When we relocated to the smaller flat, we prioritized and shipped only what we really needed. That included just two beds; one set of silverware, plates, towels, and pans; one living area; and one dining area. What’s the benefit? Much less to clean and more time available in the evening to relax and on the weekend to enjoy family and friends. In my coaching & consulting business, invoices are issued as soon as services are provided. In my first couple weeks at the hi-tech company, the founders quickly decided to provide incentives to salesmen to close deals by year end, implemented an in-depth algorithm to ensure pricing was pristinely matched for new markets being targeted in 2012, and made expense cuts in just one meeting after reviewing financials for the month.
Try it, You Might Like It.
I had an incredible 25 years at a Fortune 50 company; however, I have never looked back since leaving in March 2011. The feeling of freedom to move more quickly on my client’s behalf, with agility and energy, is liberating. Results can happen quickly, and no matter whether they are good or bad results, you KNOW the result. In the small flat, we lock the door and walk to close-by restaurants and shopping, and utilize the incredible paved trail just steps away. The fast growing hi-tech company has energy and focus like I’ve never seen. Clients and results are everyone’s tireless passion. And it’s fun!
Repack Your Bag.
As 2012 approaches, I am reminded of Richard Leider’s book, “Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Rest of Your Life.” Leider gives examples of how to annually review and purposefully repack what you are carrying and doing what you really want to be doing. It’s working for me. This feeling of energy I get from the two transitions (from XXL to medium and small) is exhilarating and renewing. How about you? What is too big in your life? How can you benefit from making it small? What waste can you eliminate? How can you become more agile? What will you purposefully keep & maintain from XXL? I want to encourage you to embrace transition and change. You might be surprised how quick you can move and expand beyond your own expectations.
Recently, a colleague wrote about the common phrase of “work life balance”. And then another colleague added that this common phrase should be changed to “work life integration.” This concerned me, as it prompted me to wonder what’s behind society and leaders allowing the move from “work life balance” to “work life integration”. In my practice, clients are teaching me a lot: if clients allow their work to integrate their life by not setting boundaries, not making purposeful & prioritized decisions, then the client is more apt to struggle with meeting their personal goals. If a client embraces and communicates their priorities and purpose, I find that the client can begin to establish new practices & habits, balance their life better, and achieve personal goals that previously seemed unachievable. Whether it is work life balance or work life integration, aren’t we better served by embracing life first?
I now am completely questioning this common phrase: “work life balance.” Throughout a person’s life, one spends approximately 15-25% of his/her time at work. Most of one’s time is spent sleeping, eating, relaxing, and enjoying life’s pleasures and treasures. Even though the globe is more connected than ever and working 24 hours/day 5 to 7 days/week, that still doesn’t give reason for work to integrate your personal life.
I recommend we change it up. How about we talk about balancing life into work and integrating life with work? Let’s rename it from work life balance or work life integration to Your Life’s Work. To make this shift, try answering these questions: What are your most important life goals? What are your goals for 2012 and 2013? What are your goals for the remainder of this year? What do you want employees at work to truly know about you? Does your boss understand your personal goals and how important they are to you?
As you answered those questions, what did you notice? Are your work goals just one piece of your overall personal or life goals? If they are, then you are well on your way to Your Life’s Work. If you noticed that your goals are more work focused, are you ready to be introspective and define who you want to be, what steps you need to take to develop your plan, and how you want to be remembered?
So, how can you change it up and move from struggling with work life balance to developing Your Life’s Work?
Talk & Ask. Who can you talk to about your life’s goals, priorities, and purpose? Who will support you along your journey in accomplishing Your Life’s Work? Pick someone who truly listens to your plan, asks insightful questions, and will support you. A good first step is to talk about and plan your personal time as rigorously as your work schedule.
Write. Numerous studies have indicated that individuals, sports teams, and companies who write down their goals are much more apt to achieve them than those who don’t write them. Keep in mind that not all goals are met, so be ready to expect that. In baseball, an excellent batting average is above .350. In football, a quarterback is superb when he connects on 75% of his passing attempts. In basketball, the best free throw shooters hit more than 85% of their free throws. Teams who win 75% of their games position themselves to win championships. Expect progress, not perfection.
Share. Let others know about your plans, your priorities, and Your Life’s Work. When others know a bit more about what’s behind your actions and decisions, they might be more apt to support you. For example, let your boss know that you want to take your children’s birthdays off annually, because you want the kids to know that one day a year, they are #1. That decision and action may also send a signal to your boss that you can prioritize highly important things in Your Life’s Work.
Display. If a company can post their strategy on their website and on employee bulletin boards, then where can you post your personal goals that will support Your Life’s Work? I post mine annual goals by our personal calendar in the kitchen and also carry it in my wallet. It is always present, to help keep me focused on My Life’s Work.
Go. Take the first step toward Your Life’s Plan. Progress begins with that first step, embracing the plan, & doing it.
Let Your Life’s Work begin. Talk to someone today, so you can display and start Your Life’s Work tomorrow.