Category: hard edges

consolidating my online presence

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my online presence.  As I am helping more and more people strategize about their presence online and how to maintain a consistent brand, I have realized that some pruning is needed for the different places I have created assets online.  I strongly believe that focus and intention are more important than being present everywhere at all times, so I have decided to close down some of my ‘outposts’ and redirect them here.  If you clicked on a link that got you here, that is the reason.

My focus now (until experience tells me otherwise) is that I am going to maintain two blogs, facebook, and twitter. I will occasionally produce content on other networks, but these will be the main components of my platform.

This is the purpose for each one:

  • This blog is my personal blog where I explore ideas and write about a wide range of topics without restraining myself to any editorial direction.  I loosely focus on creativity, technology, health and leadership – but once in a while, I write things that don’t neatly fit into those buckets.
  • MoreThanAHut Blog is where I write about platforms and tribe building, especially from the perspective of owning your online presence
  • Facebook is my choice for daily engagement and ‘in the moment’ expression.  I like the immediacy of the audience on Facebook and the ability to have a more personal engagement with my relationships
  • Twitter is mostly an announcement and article sharing platform for me.  I use it to spread my written articles and any other information I come across that I have not yet digested into more coherent ideas for a blog post.

This is subject to evolution over time because my goals will evolve and the tools will change – I will make sure I reassess the decisions here periodically to make sure the solutions that best serve my tribe are the ones I focus on.

living 2015 like a BOSS

“… Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
(Matthew 17:20 NIV Bible)

lion-roar

Every year I use the month of January as an opportunity to reflect on my upcoming year and how I would like to focus my attention. I find this more effective than setting arbitrary resolutions that I am not truly committed to follow through with. This year, a series of events and circumstances has crystallized for me what my key theme for 2015 should be.

The colloquial phrase ‘like a BOSS’ is the easiest way for me to summarize the theme because it captures the posture with which I am looking at this year.

The combination of two things in my current reality have made me realize that my only way to come out of this year where I want to will be by exercising a level of boldness that is usually outside of my comfort zone.

The first is that I am experiencing a very high level of constraints on my resources. Money is tight. Time is limited.

Despite these constraints, the second thing is that my vision is bigger than it has been since my mid-20s. I have a very clear picture of what I want spiritually, relationally, physically, professionally and financially.

It’s a big picture.

And the only way to bridge the gap between my resources and what needs to happen will be through a strategic use of leverage – squeeze a lot out of a little.

I will seek out and take advantage of opportunities that are as efficient as possible, while maintaining my integrity and commitment to serving others.

So what does ‘like a BOSS’ look like?

  • It’s being honest with someone even when it’s uncomfortable
  • It’s finding a way to get things done regardless of the obstacles
  • It’s dreaming big and taking massive action to make those dreams happen
  • It’s shrugging of negative comments from those who don’t get it while loving them just the same
  • It’s not being afraid to fail because I know I can get right back up again
  • It’s believing in others long enough for them to see the giant within

It’s helping regular people do great things.

I don’t listen to Katy Perry but 2015 will hear me roar.

breakfast with a little champion

breakfast-little-chapion

Mornings in my house are the ultimate display of multi-tasking chaos.  I think this is probably the case in most houses with multiple little kids that all have different reactions to the morning and whether or not they are happy to be awake.  This morning was a little different, not just because it was a Saturday morning,.

But because I took a moment to pause.

My three-year old son woke up complaining that I had left him in the bed by himself and was clinging to my leg as I ran my endless to-do list of the day in my head.  My internal monologue was simple: “I need to give him the tablet so he can get absorbed in his shows and I can get back to my long list.”

Sad, but true.

As I was finishing my rushed breakfast on the couch, he brought the tablet back in the living room, flipped to Netflix and selected his new favorite show: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. (Wasn’t that a video game when I was a kid?).

Internal monologue: “Great, that will keep him busy – now I can go back to my list.”

But my son was having none of that.

“I want you to sit with me when I watch my show.”

Plan B. “Do you want some breakfast?”

“Yes”

So I fixed him some cereal with the intention of leaving him with his grandmother at the kitchen table and going back to my ‘very important list’.

But then I paused and remembered an experience my pastor had with his mother that he credits for playing a big role in developing his self esteem: whenever his mother served him anything to eat, she would sit down with him (even if she was not eating) and spend time with him while he ate, giving him her full attention, until he was done.

I’m glad I made the right choice today and instead of Plan B, went to Plan C.  I tossed my mental list out of my head and focused on this little marvel of a three-year old while he explained to me that a T-Rex does not eat other dinosaurs, even though he clearly asserted that it is a carnivore and ‘eats meat’.

I learned that a falcon can sweep down into the water and get a fish.  That a Pteranodon is also a carnivore and it flies into the air so it can eat other Pteranodons.

I asked him if he knew what a herbivore was and with complete confidence he smiled and said: “Yes, it eats PLANTS’.

We made faces, giggled, talked about what kind of things would be fun to do on a rainy day – I don’t want to get wet and he thinks all you need is a coat and you can do anything on a rainy day – including playing in puddles.

All the time, he was shoving spoons of cereal into his mouth and grinning widely with pleasure each time he tasted it as if it was the best gourmet food in the world.  He savored every fruit loop and acknowledged the brief moment with complete absorption.

I’m sure his internal monologue was: “This is the life!”

Our little breakfast moment was not more than 20 minutes and of inconsequential impact to whether or not I get things done today.  But to him, it was an imprint that will last a lifetime – a moment that reconfirmed to him that …

I am not just here.

I am present.

The two are very different.

what unwritten rules are hindering you?

mountains-with-clouds

I recently decided to step down from a leadership role that I have held for several years outside of work. Its a decision that I mulled over for the better part of a year until it was clear that I needed to make the change.

I took so long to come to this conclusion because I had not identified a successor for the leadership role and felt it was irresponsible of me to step down without finding one. I have been reflecting on the mental and emotional process I went through and realized that one of the key issues I was struggling with was an unwritten rule that I was following without examining whether it was still valid in my situation.

My unwritten rule needed challenging.

The unwritten rule in this case was: you cannot voluntarily step down from a position of leadership if you have not identified and trained a successor.

I have always viewed doing so as ‘dropping the ball’ and doing a dishonor to the organization I was serving.

What I realized after extensive reflection was that this rule would have been true for me three years ago, but it was not relevant in this particular situation. Three years ago, I began working on duplicating myself in leadership by mentoring other members of the organization because I realized that I would eventually have to move on. Unfortunately, each time I indentified a successor and began working with them, circumstances arose that required them to move onto another role, or limit their involvement with the organization.

In parallel with these obstacles internally in the organization, I had some major events in my life that significantly limited my capacity to lead the organization. So for the past 18 months, I have led the organization on ‘auto-pilot’ with significantly less passion than I had a few years ago.

The turning point in how I was viewing the situation was when I realized that serving on auto-pilot is just as detrimental to the organization as stepping down without identifying a successor. In addition, holding onto the role might be hindering somebody else from stepping up and taking over the leadership when the ‘vacuum’ is created on my departure.

So, holding on to the ‘letter’ of my unwritten rule was actually violating the ‘spirit’ of the rule.

Your unwritten rules are an implementation of your internal values.

I would challenge you to periodically examine some of the major rules in your life that drive your decision-making and determine whether they need to be revisited. Often, these unwritten rules exist because of your deeply held internal values, but when your values change – or expand to include other perspectives, you don’t take the time to re-examine decisions you made based on those values.

A common consequence of this problem is holding onto commitments that should be challenged for their validity in your current context, and as you pick up new commitments without altering or dropping the old ones, you become increasingly overwhelmed. Your capacity to contribute has not changed, but the nature of your contributions needs to change.

You are the ultimate arbiter of your to-do list.

Be on the lookout for situations in which you constantly use one or both of the following phrases:

  • “I have to …”
  • “I can’t …”

There are very few things that are absolutely mandatory in your life. Things like breathing, eating, sleeping – are mandatory.

Everything else is a choice.

In my experience, I tend to confuse commitments with mandatory requirements. I commit to things based on my values, and that strong attachment to the commitment that makes it feel compulsory is a consequence of how deeply held the value is that the commitment is based on.

Something as simple as putting gas in your car is a choice you can make because it is a more convenient way to travel than your other choices.

On the other end of the scale, something as critically important as providing for your children is still something that you choose to do because you value being a good parent.  If it was mandatory, then all children would be provided for adequately because nobody would have the choice to ‘underprovide’ or abandon their children.  But sadly, this is a reality of the world we live in.

In both cases, the simple and the critically important, there is still choice involved.  You don’t have to do either one of those things.

There is a freedom that comes with this realization because you can then revisit all of the commitments you currently have and challenge yourself about why you are choosing to do each of the things on the list – instead of feeling like there is nothing that is negotiable because all the things seem important.

If you are feeling overwhelmed (or underwhelmed), test each of your major commitments with a critical eye and you might surprise yourself with what you find.

I am in no way suggesting that you should drop any particular commitments in your life – if you are a parent, please keep providing for your kids – just that you take the time to reflect and challenge yourself about what unwritten rules might be hindering you.

It might be time to bend, break or simply ignore some of your rules so that you can better align your actions with your values.

experimenting with sketchnotes

I have always enjoyed taking notes.  The act of writing things down not only helps my memory but it crystallizes information and ideas for me and helps me to make connections I would not otherwise see.  I naturally gravitate to note taking that takes advantage of the visual space on the paper and I am often drawing lines to connect thoughts and drawing boxes around things to highlight them.

So, inspired by the amazing work done by one of my blogging ‘heroes’, Sacha Chua, I have decided to start learning how to do sketchnotes as my new form of note taking.  I am fascinated by the possibilities of this combination of documentation and art – and I think I can become quite good at it.

My main elements of my motivation for doing this are:

  • I think it will be a lot of fun
  • I think it is a much more accessible way to communicate a lot of information, or a complex idea succinctly therefore it will make it easier for me to share ideas with others concisely
  • I often feel like Hedley Lamarr in the clip below from ‘Blazing Saddles’

So here is the debut of my first sketchnote (not a general purpose one as its for a class I am taking on Database Concepts):

Week2_RelationalModelWithFoundationInNormalization-01

 

 

 

 

moving from goals to themes in 2013

For the past several years, I have spent the final days leading up to New Year’s Day thinking about what I want to achieve in the upcoming year and writing down those goals so that I can track them throughout the year.  This has been a very effective way of keeping myself on track especially as the year progresses and I begin to lose some of my initial passion about some of the goals.

Often as I review what I wrote at the beginning of the year, I am pleasantly surprised to find that there are some goals that I have achieved even after forgetting that I wrote them down in the first place.

This year, however, I find myself in a different place.  Throughout the year, as I have read from several different sources, digested what I was reading and thought about how I can implement some of the ideas that have resonated with me, I have realized that, instead of goals, there are some overarching themes that I need to explore.

Undoubtedly some concrete goals will emerge from these themes, but I think writing down detailed goals this early in the year will limit my thinking and possibly make me miss greater opportunities than I can imagine at this point.

Each of the themes is a critical component to the vision that I have for how I believe I am supposed to contribute to the world in the next five years and they transcend spiritual, personal and professional boundaries.

I believe that the themes will guide who I become – and what I do will then be guided by who I am.  I feel that this is the most authentic way for me to live and I am excited to embark on the journey.

So what are my themes in 2013?

There are 5 of them:

  1. Build Platforms
  2. Define the Hard Edges
  3. Create Space for Reflection
  4. Provide Mentorship
  5. Focus on Lean Methods

Platforms

I am convinced that the most effective way to have an impact with your message, talents or vision is to build a platform from which you can share your gift with the world.  Over the past year and a half, I have read Seth Godin’s blog almost daily and this is a recurring theme in his writing – now that I know the theory, I am going to spend 2013 putting it into practice and discovering what it means for me specifically.

Hard Edges

This is an idea from David Allen’s book "Getting Things Done" that provides very clear direction on how to create and manage boundaries to control the information that flows in and out of your life daily

Personally, I am expanding this concept to the boundaries throughout my life (personal, professional and other); the main idea is to make sure that I have clearly defined ‘buckets’ in which the commitments in my life fall into so that when I am faced with a new idea or commitment I can make decisions faster and with more clarity without allowing the edges to ‘bleed’ into each other.

Reflection

Without fail, whenever I take the time to think through an approach to a problem or an opportunity, I significantly reduce the amount of wasted time I spend on it.  However, despite my knowledge of this, the ‘busyness’ I often find myself in prevents me from true reflection that would enhance my results.  So this theme is about continuously simplifying my environments to create space for reflection.

Mentorship

The more I teach, the more I learn.

Lean Methods

Instead of trying to plan the risk out of any of my ventures, use a process of experimentation where I use carefully designed ‘tests’ to determine what is working and what isn’t and then make the changes necessary (Build, Measure, Learn).  I don’t need to have the full picture before I start – just enough to gather feedback that will help me take the next step.  This process of experimentation is probably the biggest departure from how I usually do things and will help me to fight against the lizard brain.

editing my life to live more simply

I have been thinking a lot about how much clutter – physical and digital – there is in my life.  For example, this is what my home office looks like:

image

My wife and I spend a considerable amount of time trying to ‘get things cleaned up’ but I am becoming more and more convinced that there is a more holistic approach that I need to take with my possessions.  The video below is an inspiring approach to both diagnosing the problem and offering some simple paradigm shifts to aid in gaining more out of less.

Graham Hill’s two simple rules are:

1. Edit Ruthlessly – stem the inflow of new posessions into my life.  For every new thing that I get, ask myself if it is really necessary, and will I have consistent use for it, rather than using it for one or two events in a year.  Will I love it for years?

2. Think Small – Hill points out in his talk that Americans have 3 times as much space as we did a few decades ago, and the personal storage industry is a 22 billion dollar industry.  This means that we have more space, but have more shortage of space at the same time.  The way to reverse this trend is to think in terms of ‘space efficiency’ – getting things that are designed for how they are used the vast majority of time, not a rare event.

“Why have a six-burner stove, when you rarely use three?”

Buy things that nest and stack.  Digitize everything I can.

You can see the entire video below – its short but very well worth it.  I will be taking Hill up on his two rules to guide my simplification project.