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Be whatever you want, but have a compass

The different versions I live in a day. Earlier on, I was Tomb Raider jogging like a machine in Parkhurst. Right now, I am the greatest (in progress) writer of all time. In the evenings I am a philosopher. I try and leave being a philosopher to the end of the day, but it often does not work out that way. I get caught up in the world that is in my mind and then make up weird scenarios about how this and that and the next thing works in and around it. If I did this all day long, I would never get anything done. I would not shower, or do projects or get the To-Do’s at work done.

Since August, I have found it extremely challenging to really engage with the work I do for this management company because I do not see the value. I also do not embrace what the cause is. That will always make it extremely challenging to connect and work long hours. It makes it a struggle to commit and drive anything. This is strange, because I use to commit on the basis of what “others” explained to me. I feel a lot stronger in being able to distinguish between what I want and how that relates to those I work with. The more beautiful thing, is seeing the unity of the teams with my diminishing presence. There was never a need for me to hold myself in such high regard. I was never as needed, as I made myself believe. This is sad, but amazing at the same time. This means I get to come and go as I please, and minimal damage will arise. This means I am really the only one who acknowledges how great I am, or that my greatness was founded in those whose values I took on as my own.

The very people who have bestowed prestige on me, are the ones whose ideals I embraced. Do not get me wrong. I committed and loved the work I did, but the value these days is no longer as strong as it once was. I’m extremely idealistic in how I see people working together towards a shared goal. Possibly naive? It is however my greatest truth. Get them to see it, and those that share a set of personal values that overlap with yours will naturally work as hard and long as they can to fulfill the units goals.  It makes me consider how I might hire people. I might banish the ideas of CV’s. Actually, no I must banish them. If I allow a small opportunity for normal qualification to out-shadow the person, I run the risk of ingenuity. Also, I would assume that you have the required skills to really do what you need to be doing – should it be that technical. Which it might be, hell it probably is going to only be techy’s pretty soon.

My main point here. I need to understand what a person finds important, and then if that is what the company deems as its central cause. We have a match! People say attitude is most important. What attitude though? The over-arching attitude that supports the company’s real visions and mission. I’m not going to begin down the path of real visions and missions. I would go and take a look at Simon Sinek’s numerous Youtube posts if I were you.. Good place to start if you are even considering leading a bunch of toddlers to the kitchen. Which I hear is quite tricky.

Then this morning, interestingly. I just sent a small shout out to the family and friends and guy Im hanging out with. To say – Amigos, go forth and be amazing. Own the inner ninja and expect nothing less than excellence from you and the week. Hold the flag of madness high, and embrace the looks of disgust. Maybe, also check what you are wearing that day… Sometimes I have my shirt back to front. The whole time, I think I am being fairly awesome demanding that we be innovative and unconventional, when people were just genuinely confused at why they could see the size of my polo-neck.

Back to the friends and family thing – It felt incredible to be in a position where I wanted to support and instill the same sense of quiet enthusiasm I have going into this Monday. It was a small shout out to my inner circle, it was a reminder to the people in my life, that they need to be awesome because they inherently are. There is  lot of stuff going on and we are all aiming for this and that, and then we want to run along and spend cash and have babies and ra ra ra. Just business. No jokes, I do not feel I need to achieve much more today other than go for another jog later, manage my caffeine consumption and attempt to help people where they REALLY cannot help themselves. I accepted a while ago, that I am no longer as invested in this portion of my life.. but that I do need to honour the commitment. I’m not sure if Paul Walkers’s death had something to do with my adamant approach to guarding my life, mind and goals? Maybe. Maybe not.

Let me wrap this up, and make some sense of the banter that is. I was explaining the versions of me, to you. Not for any other reason than to explain that sometimes I feel bipolar. Not really, but I wonder. Then I realised EVERYBODY does this. You have to be a couple of versions of you every day. Unless you don’t mind minimising the versions and increasing the hassles (People can be real pricks). The trick is to keep those values as a compass. You can be kind as a corporate, tomb raider and ninja. You can also be an un-inspiring bore as a corporate, tomb raider and ninja. Trust me, I have seen this.

See what I did there, I was a writer for about 30 minutes! Time to be a corporate…..

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Why Compartmentalize Life?

I was once a Jedi master of compartmentalization. I had distinct boxes & each box had a tag denoting what section of my life was managed therein. Recently, I have been working on diminishing the barriers between key aspects of my life – with an interesting result. I seem to have reduced my overall anxiety. Make no mistake, the initial change was a horrific shock to the system!

The first point to uncover, is the human need to compartmentalize. From my perspective, it seems segregating our life is a form of coping. By having clearly defined parameters where aspects of our lives reside, we do not need to worry about to much turbulence or change in our small worlds. We also do not need to worry that sections clash too much (we sometimes can be very alternate versions of who we are, dependent on context). When we successfully label and enforce mental boundaries to work, friends, partners and hobbies – we feel in control and orderly. It is a form of personal filing and “to-do’s”. Neat and non-invasive.

A prime example is my work and social compartmentalization. I was quite fervent in my boundaries of work and play, until I realised this was extremely counterproductive. The initial idea was based on the idea that fun and work did not co-exist. I began by joining others in a social get-together. By allowing them to see a version of me beyond the collared shirt, I have increased the trust and strengthened key relationships.

Possible Pro’s and Con’s below on compartmentalization:

1. You feel extremely vulnerable in the beginning of breaking down barriers

2.  Creating loose boundaries will always be necessary, but it is a challenge to define

3. People who honour rigid compartments tend to see your change as a negative

4. You get to be you 24/7 and allow people from all boxes to mingle

5. There is no need to manage pre-conceived ‘rules’ of engagement

6. There is an increase in opportunity by allowing overlapping of life aspects

7. You can feel powerless if you are A-Type – This you have to consciously work on

I would say my lifestyle and outlook are far more positive as a result of less compartmentalizing. It is a real freedom to allow all parts of your life to become regulated and somewhat intertwined. The commonality in all the boxes is you. You are the key piece of the puzzle, and by breaking down a few walls at a time, you increase the chance of experiencing life rather than managing where what belongs and at what time!

Eden

 

 

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How Working Should Work

Work

Work

I had about 16 seconds spare time, and this idea came to me. It is simply a very basic flow of why and how revenue generation occurs. In an ideal state – of course.  I am well aware that we end up in companies where the flow is backwards.  It is a bit inconsistent, so I will I tidied it up slightly….

Work and How That Works

Eden

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Waste Time & Learn

Don’t tell my boss. I have been wasting a lot of time lately. Make no mistake, it isn’t that I see any of my current activities as time-wasters; I am just aware of the fact that the authorities might. We all have the tendency to hit spells of intense questioning. If you don’t take time to ponder, it becomes easy to embrace the status quo. Be it both a blessing and a curse, I have always been interested in how we can challenge the status quo.  Here are three critical time-wasters…..

 Tea with colleagues 

There are many of people I routinely spend time with, but there are also co-workers I could learn a thing or two from. I have sought out the experienced bunch in my organisation this week, and dedicated (no devices in sight) a catch up and coffee with them. The trick is to have no expectations, and to make the tea (or espressos in my case) all about that person. Make it your goal to actively listen and enjoy the company of the wiser ones. There is so much to learn!

 Reading (a lot)

LinkedIn has articles on an array of business topics, twitter feeds are a knowledge fest at your finger tips and Facebook is tightly packed with trivial and non-trivial info. Based on this foresight, I highly recommend knowing what you are looking for before jumping into the online arena. My current reading flavour is organisational psychology and change management. I get onto every reputable website and read for about 1.5 hours a day.  Make sure you set a calendar alert to remind you to go back and tackle the next item…. You might get lost reading, which is not ideal!

 Thinking (even more)

We could argue that we are constantly thinking. This, on a factual basis, would be 100% correct. What we should be doing is some good old critical thinking.  I naturally over-analyse scenarios, and could give you 15 various  – & conflicting –  scenarios on how to drive revenue in teams. What we as individuals and teams neglect to do, is reflect on our wins & epic fails; then objectively re-work our plans. It is one of the most challenging aspects of any development. Not one person I have met enjoys hearing they didn’t quite get it right.

If you genuinely appreciate the role of knowledge and learning in today’s world – applying healthy doses of teas, reading and thinking will enable you and your workplace.

Eden

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Two Steps to Maximising Your Day

Back in the day (around 3 months ago), prior to working towards real goals that transcend self-imposed parameters across work and personal domains, I would diligently plod along down the ever expanding “To-Do” list. For an individual who worked in the Department of Strategy, this might have been one of my most ineffective habits.  If I could cluster all my “To-Do” lists that I have worked through, and attach a monetary value to the action, I doubt I would have contributed much towards my teams goals, or the entities revenue goals.  I decided I needed a simple and effective plan in order to add more value across my entire exist

Master Your Time 

My colleagues and peers find this extremely odd, but I manage everything through my diary. From my weekly meetings, to my ‘time-out’ sessions for catching up on long term project work, it is all there. Weekly exercise, mundane grocery shopping and social events also find their way onto the time board (as I like to call it). If you know what your goals are for the week, and can effectively tie them back to your long-term goals; you are well on your way to prioritising and allowing for your necessary items in any given day. Be determined in honouring these ‘appointments’, and you won’t go wrong.

Choose Your Space

For some,  the space they work in does not play a major role. What I have noticed, is the more capable members of any given team are robbed of more of their time by being in the wrong place. If you are naturally a giver, you will compromise your time board and slot into somebody elses. The trick is to isolate yourself when need be, and be 100% available when you commit to interaction with colleagues and peers. I enjoy splitting my isolated time into key times of the day, and aim to focus on critical items. For the rest of my time, I dedicate reviewing emails (I slot this in my calendar too!) and assess whether the request can be addressed in a weekly meeting forum. This also drives your teams behaviour in respecting your boundaries.

Space and Time are two things you will have to own and master in order to achieved life success and squeeze in as much living as possible.

How will you own your time. Afterall, It is so limited?

Eden

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Motivation – We All Prefer the Chocolate

Personal motivation. Most likely to be the greatest challenge an individual, and every leader faces. It often feels as though motivation is a very elusive, fairy-dust type trait. It is deeply psychological, and stems from many conscious and subconscious elements & encounters. Why can we not hold onto it for very long (& congrats to those who do)? Simple. Because we listen to ourselves.

 

I am very good at listening to my own thoughts, and believing them. Here is a conversation I battle daily. As in, every single last day of the week….

Mr. Thought: Eden, really? It is 5:00 am and you could go for your run this evening. You don’t even have meetings today. How about you just sleep some more and we can run later.

Me:That actually isn’t a bad idea, and I could also leave work a bit earlier. I did really well yesterday, and I ate reasonably well. No real need to overdo it.

Mr Thought: Exactly my point. You are a machine, and what if you get an injury? That wouldn’t be ideal.

Me: Ok, but wait now. I usually feel quite awesome after a run… Let me just do 30 minutes.

Own a Direction

It might sound extremely obvious, but many people get stuck before they have actually started. Or they, start without really thinking about the end goal. The trick is to make sure you are doing something that speaks to what you value. Do you value independence, friendship, health or travel? Great. How do we get you to own a direction and move that way. Hell, even if you value knowing all the details of your favourite characters on The Bold & The Beautiful.… No problem, just know your value sets. These will speak to how you prioritize everything else. My personal prior direction was status, money and being a corporate world Guru – until I realized none of those spoke to my values. I lost all motivation. It is natural.

Follow the Direction

The tricky phase two of motivation, is when you lose all motivation. It will happen. You cant tweet this, write it down or staple it to your “favourite quotes” mood board; but mark my words. This is when you are semi-habitual in your efforts, and you also begin to doubt any progress. Queue wanting to quit entirely and run back to your comfort zone. Its day 60, and you are a bit tired of helping your friend with a lift to work (How long does it take to find a car, and taxi’s are actually quite safe). There is no way to re-ignite motivation in times of minor dullness, because it is something you cannot fake. What you can choose, is to fake it. The operative word here is choice. You can choose to leave your friend stranded, or you can acknowledge that you really value great friendships… so you are living in accordance with this value. The choice is yours. I tend to be  disappointed every time I have violated a major value of mine.

Love the Direction

There are some moments when you feel so frighteningly awesome and content, that you want to kind of freeze right there. Dont freeze ( keep going, and those moments become even more awesome). Contrarily, enjoy the moment for what it is, let it go and appreciate that you did this. You made a change, and you love what you are becoming every day. Look around at the version of you that you are building, and congratulate yourself for holding true to what is important to you. Most likely, you have had to say “No” to a lot to get here. Then step into the rest of the day radiating that ‘awesome’ factor.

I truely believe that there is not anything or anybody who truely stops us from doing and being incredible. We do. We listen to the ideas, the doubts and the tiny voices too often. Sure; if the tiny voice tells you to get out the road because an 18 wheeler is fast approaching, please listen. When the tiny voice tells you that you are too young, old, slow or stupid – go and do it anyway,

Eden

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What To Learn from Interns

A rather exciting opportunity presented itself this year in the form of two young minds reporting into me! It has been a novel learning experience for me, and I am fairly certain that I have permanently damaged them to some extent. (I admit I can be extremely odd)…. I was under immense work pressure at one point, and my boss kindly extended two additional analysts to assist with the workload across our company.  The small issue here, is that I generally prefer things done my way – & this is clearly not an option when leading anybody. That, and the fact that I am the only female in the department…..

Dont fear, we pay ours!

Nonetheless, I took this as a golden opportunity to identify three qualities we can all embrace from the every day intern.

Ask questions, ALL the time… Even if you annoy people

I get annoyed, they get annoyed, and we all tell each other how annoyed we are. It is a funny game of knowledge sharing, & when I am not in the mood, I become a bit agitated! The outcome; an extremely thorough end product and newly identified opportunities. This might sound counter-intuitive, but because interns are resilient in their quest for answers, questions vary from A ( an excel formula) to Z (a cultural question), and this inevitably test’s the status quo. Never, ever a bad thing.

Play extremely nicely with cross-functional departments 

When you play nice, they – any department beyond your own – win and somewhere along the line you (even as an intern) win. One of the current interns is great with this, and he often extends his skill sets across more than one department. While it might be a basis of flexing his newly found expertise, the teams appreciate him for it & assist with the little details he needs along the way.

Ask for feedback on your “unsure” areas

A trait I possess is my innate ability to be extremely forthright. I have tapered this, as it is a coping mechanism for dealing with a more mature and authoritative crowd. When it comes to being an intern, I am pleasantly surprised at the constant request for feedback. While too much of this behavior can be misconstrued as pure neediness, and inability, it is crucial for any employee to get clear and concise feedback. As the interns have taught me – Ask and ye shall receive.

There are many moments ahead for the guys, and much learning to be had! I am proud to have participated in their development over the past few months, and thankful for the lessons they have brought along with them.

Eden

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The Art of Not Caring

Not caring? Excuse me! You might think of this as slightly outlandish and rebellious – hear me out. Dr. Steven Covey has a rather lovely concept of ‘reducing your circle of concern & increasing your circle of influence”. I think it is the greatest feeling to care, in what ever capacity pleases you. What is not great, is when you care too much for things that do not serve your true goals.  I have tested the Covey theory over the past 3 weeks, with some interesting results. 

People  seem to think you are lazy 

As an employee who willingly extended my working hours to 16 hours a day, dedicating only 8 hours to my paying job seems extremely strange from an outsider’s perspective. The trick here, is to remember why you are focused on other aspects of your life, and not fall into a trap of ‘guilt’. Your time is your greatest commodity &  believe it or not 8 hours is more than enough.   

Delegation becomes easier

I have a tendency to prefer being in control and I struggle with the idea of work perfection. This is a rookie error if you are aiming at really honing your focus on long term successes (work or personal successes).  Remember focus, is you keeping your eye on the prize every moment of every day. If you are aware of what you are trying to get out of that hour, day or week – knowing when to delegate a task is as simple as asking “Does this item serve my overall goal effectively?“. 

Saying “No” happens more frequently 

I got in a bit of trouble with this one. I said no to my boss, quite adamantly, about a work project. I did it in a fair, honest and reasonable manner. It is something I would never have thought of doing 3 months ago; but 3 months ago I didn’t have any solid goals either. Everything and anything will try and take your time. Learning to say “No” is going to be key. I’m still learning.

Planning is critical 

Originally, I went into any given day and knew what I wanted to get out of it in relation to my main goal. What I failed to realise, was that mundane stuff still requires my attention too. Planning has allowed me the comfort of knowing that I have dedicated very specific time to all my extremely important items. It also ensures I do not starve to death, or run out of clean clothing.  Sunday afternoons in the garden with my laptop are prime planning moments for me.

The trick to not caring, is knowing what you really really care about. Without truly understanding what you are working towards, you have no compass. With no compass, you run around caring about other peoples goals and successes. 

Eden