The man in the mirror

(Image by athree23 from Pixabay

“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience”.

(John Dewey)

I am always looking for angles to help keep my Walk into the Future moving forward.  I leverage available tools to ensure my growth provides a platform to make a difference daily.

Decided to conduct a personal Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats (SWOT) analysis on my 100th day in my role at Indian River State College.  We conducted an in-depth analysis of the overall office as part of our teambuilding program and to discover areas of growth.  This was a great step to help everyone on the team to see the things we do well and to collectively identify improvement points.  The SWOT approach is a great way to get a true operational picture IF everyone is truthful with their inputs.

I used this same approach to look at my work during the first 100 days to identify areas of improvement.  I strive to do a good job daily but did not want to have blinders on and not see the weaknesses, opportunities, or threats in front of me. 

I started this role in April 2020 which was thought to be the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Oh, were we wrong! My point here is most of my coworkers and direct reports were working from home when I went into the office.  My Human Resources onboarding was done via computer before I left Tallahassee.  There was not an orientation process, in person introductions or meet and greets to welcome me to town.  I fully understood this process and why but wanted to paint a complete picture of how I arrived on-campus. 

(Note:  I am still playing catch up due to how I entered the work environment—still learning things I needed for a successful transition.) 

My personal SWOT was performed to identify the things I needed to work on that I may have missed due to how I was onboarded. 

My strengths were easy to identify and transferred directly to this role.  My vision for the office, Authentic leadership, positive energy, communication and organized were a few of the strengths listed.  My career services background at multiple institutions was also listed and enabled me to hit the ground running even though the workforce was scattered and working from home.

The weaknesses I wrote down included lack of in-depth institutional knowledge, lack of in-depth division knowledge, on-line onboarding, and office interpersonal dynamics.  The lack of knowledge and on-line onboarding go hand in hand since I never got a chance to ask questions to learn more about daily operational procedures.  This did not stop me from making a difference, but I soon discovered I needed more information to continue to grow.  I used this new knowledge to reach out and ask more and better questions to ensure I fully understood how the college operated. 

The opportunities were plentiful, and I am excited to work them into the operation.  Teambuilding, robust training, virtual events, and enhanced officer interpersonal dynamics were a few of the opportunities I discovered.  The concept of virtual information sessions, appointments and career fairs were not everyday activities at the beginning of 2020.  The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations to find new, better, and exciting ways to connect with students, employers, and faculty/staff.  Excited to discover new ways to use virtual platforms to create a great experience for our customers.  The COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools to modernize operations and leverage technologies daily.  Currently working on our first ever virtual career fair—fingers crossed for an outstanding event!

The threats are present daily but can all be mitigated in some form.  The COVID-19 pandemic remains one of the largest threats since it can shut down the country again with additional spreading.  Universities and colleges have opened their doors to students again, but it only takes one major outbreak on a campus before operations go back to virtual learning only. 

Another threat is the possibility students will not engage with virtual programs or events.  A virtual career fair is a new concept for everyone so will be interesting to see if students will interact with this platform.  Discovered my new office has multiple areas we need to modernize so need to prioritize projects to ensure we are focused on the right things at the right time.  Sounds simple but this needs to be done to keep us productive.  Need to gauge employer interest as well for the virtual platforms.  Most employers have been engaged with Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google platforms to conduct daily business.  Getting them familiar with our virtual software should be an easy transition to help mitigate the threat.

Please note, I provided a snapshot of the SWOT analysis—there are other weaknesses, opportunities, and threats I will be working on to continue to grow.  This was an outstanding learning process for me and will look to leverage this approach multiple times a year to help my self-awareness in the work environment.

Have you ever performed a personal SWOT?  Would this process help you grow as a professional?

 “To realize the self is to be still”.

(Ramana Maharshi)

Poetic Friday

(Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay)

Knowledge (11/13/20)

The series of daily challenges presented

Provides a template to view

How to conquer the challenges?

It is all up to you

Life provides many opportunities to grow

The direction you chose, only you will know

Continue to strive through the growing process

Knowing that you hold the key to it all

The knowledge you gain

Helps to move your journey forward

And makes the challenges easier to maintain

Leading from a distance

(Image by FelixMittermeier from Pixabay

“Leading remotely makes the complex role of leading even more complex”.

(Kevin Eikenberry)

The year 2020 started with a bang for us all and the promise of a fantastic year. 

The term 2020 Vision was used to highlight the promise this was going to be the year where vision became reality and positive things were coming.

2020 has been a lot tougher than most of us would like but there have been positive things to be thankful for.  We must remember tough times now can lead to positive outcomes in the future.

One area of my Walk into the Future where I really needed 2020 Vision was after accepting my role in Fort Pierce and discovering my entire team was working remotely.  Imagine moving to a new city during a pandemic, taking over a work environment and meeting your entire team on your laptop.  Strange times but quickly discovered all my leadership training, speaking, and consulting experience were needed for me to make positive things happen.

I have read a lot of leadership books and written multiple articles on authentic leadership.  There is not a manual on how to come in on day one and begin to lead a remote team.  Trust me, I searched for that book for days! 

You always want to make a great first impression, but it is tough to gauge your direct reports via a laptop screen.  Things are progressing but I continue to learn new tools and techniques daily.  2020 Vision has morphed into a new mantra to remain focused and control the controllable.

Teambuilding

A first step to build a great team is to ensure teambuilding is a central focus to get everyone on the same page and moving in the correct direction.  I have written about several teambuilding exercises we have completed (MBTI, The Energy Bus) and the need to help each team member grow professionally.  We completed these activities in a complete physical distancing environment where staff members engaged each other via computers from separate offices.  Let’s repeat that…we were together via a Zoom like application (Blackboard Collaborate), in different locations, and working on our teambuilding activities.  Not ideal but it can be done.

Never imagined this was possible but got the 2020 Vision to try this and tweak as needed.  We have been able to enhance team dynamics and maintain our physical distance from each other.  I continue to look for interactive ways to engage the team using computer technology and ensure we have fun with the process. 

Work schedules

2020 Vision allows me to understand the traditional concept of work schedules went out the window earlier this year.  Not saying people do not have to work but the COVID-19 pandemic created a huge work from home dynamic.  Jobs traditionally done within the office environment were rapidly transformed to work from home.  This was a major change for everyone, and work schedules had to change as well.  Gone were the typical 8 am – 5 pm work schedules since people had to juggle work, childcare, home schooling and a myriad of other tasks daily. 

I learned quickly when staff needed time to take care of their home life.  Also learned the work from home mindset is not the same for everyone.  Some folks are just as motivated working from home as they were in the office.  I came to understand that some are not as motivated working from home—human nature kicks in for these folks.

My role has evolved to ensure everyone can use the technology we have available to complete work assignments.  We needed to create communication channels to check in without being overly connected daily.  I am still learning and evolving in this area, but we are getting things done.

Mental well-being

My initial thoughts for this section was to write about helping my staff with their mental well-being.  We do that daily but one aspect I continue to focus on is my mental well-being.  My workouts and running program are great escapes for me from the daily grind of leading a team from a distance.  This new world of work seems to always have someone trying to schedule a Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Blackboard Collaborate meeting—they never stop! ☹😊

Finally had to tell some coworkers to ask before just jamming a virtual meeting on my calendar.  This is a constant reminder the world of work has changed—mostly for the good but there can be a bad side to always being connected.  I work to connect with my staff daily to make sure they are doing well.  I do not email, call, or text them after work hours to model behavior that honors a true work and life balance.  Small steps!

I am still learning how to operate in this new world of work. 

What techniques do you use to not be connected all the time?  How has your 2020 vision changed from earlier in the year?

 “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something”.

(Plato)

Walking with no new races in sight

(Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

 “I am trying my hardest not to act how I feel”.

(Anonymous)

The COVID-19 pandemic hits just keep on stacking up!  I have been bombarded with emails from the Rock N Roll marathon race organization identifying the cancellation for future races.  Please note, I fully expected the remaining 2020 races to be cancelled but the Rock N Roll folks have begun cancelling races in 2021!

Oh, how we have failed society with our lame government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I moved from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce in April with the full understanding this country would be in better shape in October.  We are in worse shape today (8/20/2020) than we were in April.  Shocked I had to write that last sentence, but it is unfortunately true.

Races lost so far

The first 2020 race I lost to COVID-19 was the 2020 Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon in April.  This is my favorite race of the season and one of my favorite cities to visit.  Love the Nashville course, culture, food, and country music on every corner.  Always look forward to my country line dancing lessons at the Wild Horse Saloon, eating barbeque, and listening to new country artists playing.  Wanted to visit the Ryman Auditorium for the first time and explore the historic venue.

Got the news the 2020 and 2021 Philly Rock N Roll half marathon races were cancelled two days ago.  Fully expected the 2020 race to get axed but never thought the 2021 race would be on the chopping block due to COVID-19.  Not sure the race organizers are predicting COVID-19 issues for 2021 but this may signal running tourists will have limited options in the future.  I was looking forward to getting back to Philly and hang out with my friend, Lauren Apgar so we could explore the city and get some more of those cheesesteaks.  We planned to explore the Reading Terminal Market in-depth this year to sample food from the different vendors there.  We will have to put off our Philly cheesesteak adventures now.

I signed up for the inaugural 2020 Clearwater Rock N Roll half marathon scheduled for October.  This was going to be the first Rock n Roll race scheduled in my home state in years.  The excitement for me was most of the race is run near the beach and I would not have to travel so far.  I would get the opportunity to enjoy more sights and sounds and not have to rush back.   The course is flat and would have produced a fast time and October in Florida would be cooler with less humidity.  The race organizers cancelled the 2020 and 2021 Clearwater races.  They project to run the race in October 2022, but we will see what happens that far out.  I do not have a good feeling all the cancelled races will come back—some may but believe COVID-19 will eliminate how we travel, race, and interact for a long time.

The Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) 2020 half marathon scheduled for December is still on the books, but most races hosted by Track Shack have been converted to virtual races.  Believe the OUC race will be virtual as well so I have not signed up.

The 2021 New Orleans Rock N Roll half marathon was cancelled today and now the race organizers project to run this event in February 2022.  Turns out New Orleans was the only Rock N Roll race I was able to run in 2020.  The race was completed in February right before the country realized how bad COVID-19 was and we started shutting down.  Had a great time in New Orleans so guess it was only fitting this would be my only half marathon race of the year.  We will see if this race ever comes back because of the close interactions of Bourbon and Canal Streets.  Love the food and atmosphere but it may be hard to host large-scale events there and keep people safe.

Virtual options

Most running organizations are bridging the race gaps with virtual options.  Runners can still race, compete, and receive race swag (t-shirt, medal, etc.) while running in their hometowns—just sign up and sync your running application to the race.  I am sure this is a great option for some runners, but I enjoy the in-person interaction associated with the event.  I joined the Rock N Roll Virtual Running club and signed up for my first virtual race—a 10k which I completed on 8/22/2020.  My time was not great—I signed up on a Friday and ran the 10k the next day without additional mental or physical preparation.  I may explore this option more especially when the weather gets a bit cooler.  I need a competitive outlet for my running program so may reach out to my tree branches to join me on some of these virtual adventures (Apgar, Forges, Kume). 😊

Note:  My first Virtual 5k was completed on 8/29/20.

https://www.runrocknrollvr.com/

Training

I still get out and train but not logging the same number of miles I put in last summer.  I get my runs in on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays but not committing to extreme long runs with no races on the horizon.  I run as a form of therapy and to keep my weight in the range I want.  I have not done any speed work since early March, so my training goal is to keep my heart rate up and enjoy the views I get in Fort Pierce.

COVID-19 Training miles (run, bike, elliptical):

April 2020:  79.45 miles May 2020:  90.57 miles June 2020:  130.72 miles
July 2020:  78.15 miles August 2020:  74.57 September 2020:  46.16

Realize there are more important things happening in the world than me not being able to be a running tourist.  Hoping we can get the COVID-19 pandemic under control so we can all get back to the things we enjoy without worrying about the air we breathe.  Look forward to bringing you reports from new travel locations when it is safe to do so again.

Until then, here is what happen in Nashville in 2019! 😊

https://walkintothefuture.blog/2019/05/23/nashville-and-the-wild-horse-saloon/

“Life equals running and when we stop running maybe that is how we know life is finally finished”.

(Patrick Ness)

 https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/17/some-marathon-races-may-not-survive-coronavirus-pandemic.html

Poetic Fridays

Hope 

Hope springs eternal as

I search the distant landscape

The path I choose will determine my fate

The goal is to win the daily grind

Which path will I take?

Determination sets the course as the search continues

Multiple options, multiple venues

Working towards the important things in life

Without trying the only thing left is strife

Black 14: Wyoming Football legacy

“He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it”.

(Plato)

My Walk into the Future for 2020 has been an interesting journey so far.  Not complaining because there are worse things in life than maintaining physical distance during a time of COVID-19.

The most interesting part has been the ability for me to find a new voice and interest in documenting injustices that are happening in plain sight in America.  The current news cycle seems to identify another racial injustice daily in America—that may be a slight exaggeration, but you may have to walk in my shoes to prove that.

My latest injustice knowledge came through a research show on ESPN titled the Black 14. I did not stop to watch the program initially because it centered around the University of Wyoming football team and I never had interest with anything in Wyoming.  Decided to sit a bit and see what the program was about since I could not make it to the beach due to bad weather—lucky me! 😊

The Black 14 were 14 black football players who were recruited to the University of Wyoming football team from every corner of America.  These players wanted to be a part of something different and chose to play football in Wyoming.  I later learned there initially were 17 black players on the team but 3 quit the team earlier.

The racial turmoil of 1969 made it out to Wyoming in the form of protests in and around the University of Wyoming campus.  The Black 14 were not part of the student organizations who protested injustices but wanted to take a stand against the racism of the Mormon church which founded Brigham Young University (BYU).

The Black 14 wanted to wear black armbands with the number 14 to signify unity when the University of Wyoming football team played against BYU.  The players decided to approach their head coach with the REQUEST to wear the arm bands during the game.  The coach saw this request from the Black 14 as a rebellion against him (white guy) and his authority. Again, the Black 14 went to ask permission to wear armbands.  Fast forward and the Black 14 were dismissed from the team because they were creating a fragmented locker room according to their coach.

Their dismissal was appealed but the Black 14 were still kicked off the team even with most of the students on-campus in support of what they wanted to do.  The Black 14 never got another chance to play for the University of Wyoming together again.  Some stayed around the campus and were let back on the team the following year.  Others made their way to smaller schools to complete their playing careers.  They never got an apology or full explanation of why they were kicked off the team.  A side note to this story is the University of Wyoming football program has never regained a national place in the college football world after the Black 14 were kicked off the team.  Karma is real!

Imagine you go to an authority figure to ask for permission for something but get kicked out for simply asking.  These men were damaged for just trying to do what others around the country could do freely.

Sadly, it took the University of Wyoming 50 years to issue a formal apology and welcome the Black 14 back to campus.  This is a start but imagine how these men felt over the past 50 years.  Happy they got their apology but makes me wonder how many other Black 14’s, Black 27’s, Black 3’s we never hear about.

2020 has proven to be my year of enlightenment and learning more about America.  There appears to be a lot left for me to learn.

“If you can’t eliminate injustice, at least tell everyone about it”.

(Shirin Ebadi)

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/black-14-kicked-wyoming-football-team-receives-apology-after-50-n1080671

 

Vote next week!

Poetic Fridays

(Image by H. B. from Pixabay

Life role

Living the life I lead

Let’s me see how mistakes can produce learning moments

Taking time to enjoy the world around

Produces the essence in this life I lead

Working towards goals, to fulfill this promise I need

Striving for perfection is what I bleed

There will be times when I do not reach my goal

The key to the life I lead is to find my role

Walking and the importance of networking

“It’s not who you know but who knows YOU”.

(Anonymous)

Dictionary.com defines networking as the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. 

This definition provides a clean view of networking but does not limit how it can be done.  I have written in the past about several podcast episodes I have been a part of.  Each episode was done to share a specific message to the audience and help their professional growth.  I engaged in multiple in-person networking events (Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tallahassee) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic with designs to meet people who could help me grow my consulting and speaking roles.  So, as you can see, networking takes on many forms with the objective of connecting with others.

I got invited to speak on a local radio program last week to engage and speak with Fort Pierce community members about my new workplace and the work we do.  Turns out the radio host is an Indian River State College (IRSC) colleague who happens to work on a different campus.  We had not met prior to the event but knew of each other through work interactions.

I make a point to never turn down opportunities to speak about the great work we do for our students and alumni populations.  The radio spot was a fantastic way for me to network with students, parents and employers interested in attending or coming back to IRSC.

The host for this networking opportunity works directly with underrepresented students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.  She is always looking for new ways to engage students and members of the community on the benefits of higher education and wanted me to discuss how my office helps our students become career ready.  Love being able to showcase the improved operations and services we are building.  These new operational tweaks allow staff to reach more students and add value to the overall college experience.

I especially enjoyed participating in the radio program since I could speak directly to employers in the local Fort Pierce area who did not know they could recruit talent on our campuses.  We are not hosting in-person events in the fall, but employers are able to post their openings for free with our office.  We are in the process of finalizing our Virtual Career Fair platform and wanted to let employers know they have multiple access points to recruit on-campus.  The radio program reaches our four-county service area and should enhance our reach to help employers understand how we can help them moving forward.

A secondary aspect of participating on the radio show was to let the community know enrollment for the fall semester is open and we are still recruiting new students.  COVID-19 has had a major impact on college and university enrollments across the country and we are no different.  Going on the radio allows us to let folks know we are here for them and want to share ways we can help with their success.  Two-year colleges are very affordable and can be an excellent way to launch into a four-year degree if that is a goal. 

The new term for me in this environment is UpSkill.  We talk with prospective students and employers on the benefit of in-demand certificate programs to UpSkill their careers or improve staff outputs.  This process is still new to me since I came from the four-year university model but UpSkill is a great way to impact local economies by training students to meet local career demands.

I am scheduled to speak on another radio program later this month hosted by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and will look to continue to network to help the Treasure Coast grow.  Excited to see the impact of these networking opportunities! 😊

What networking opportunities are you working on?  How can networking help your organization continue to grow?

 “Networking is the #1 unwritten rule of success in business”.

(Sallie Krawcheck)

Listen to the show here—I speak around the 5 minute markhttp://wjfp.com/ondemand-wjfp/player.php?wrspot=72816

The return to LA Fitness

(Image by Pexels from Pixabay

“You are only one workout away from a good mood”.

(Unknown)

Decided to test the waters and get back into LA Fitness to jump start my weight training program again.  I started putting extra emphasis on my running program in 2019 but I was still getting in four days of weight training while increasing my mileage.  I still made it to Momentum Fitness in Tallahassee in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Stopped going completely as the pandemic started to get worse in mid-March and switched to home body workouts until it was time to move to Fort Pierce, Florida in April.

I maintained my distance from the gym during my first two and a half months in Fort Pierce because I did not feel comfortable being around people in a confined space.  Note, I am still not completely comfortable but have allowed for limited time around people with proper physical distancing.

My new workplace has a small workout room, but I do not consider it a gym.  The weights and cardio equipment are in great condition but there are limited weightlifting options.  I ventured to this location a few times on the weekends just for limited workouts (cardio, legs).  Had this location to myself each time I went in so think I got a bit of confidence to explore a larger facility. 

My new habit is to carry Clorox wipes with me everywhere I go so I can wipe down everything myself prior to touching it.  Never thought I would be that guy, but yes, I have a pack of Clorox wipes in my gym bag and do not see this changing anytime soon.  A new normal for the gym has been born. 😊

LA Fitness

My history with LA Fitness began during my time living in Oviedo, Florida.  Really enjoyed the multiple cardio, weightlifting, basketball, spinning and yoga class options available at LA Fitness.  All these things were part of the regular membership and made the facility popular with my folks in East Orlando.  My experience prior to joining LA Fitness centered on fitness centers on military installations.  Always had what I needed in these facilities and never had to pay to get in a workout.

I decided to test out LA Fitness because I felt limited with the other workout options in Orlando.  Was able to get a great rate with a military discount and spent as much time in the facility as possible.  Made some great friends in LA Fitness and got myself in fantastic shape with all the options there.  So, as you can see, I have a fondness for the LA Fitness brand.

There are two LA Fitness locations in Port St. Lucie, Florida and I finally got comfortable enough to want to venture in to enhance my weight training.  Went on-line and signed up for a free guest membership which gave me access to the facility without having to commit or join.  Leveraged the pass to see how the facility was maintained and what protocols they had to combat COVID-19.  Was a bit surprised how clean they kept the facility and was happy there were not large crowds working out.  Made sure to only use equipment where physical distancing was possible and moved if anyone got too close to where I was working out.  Felt funny doing that but decided to air on the side of caution.

Waited a couple weeks and signed up for another free guest pass for the second LA Fitness location.  Wanted to see if there was a different vibe there and I was not eligible to get another guest past at the first location.  You are supposed to wait 6 months between passes at the same location, so I just moved down the road a bit for my workouts.  I liked the second location best because the shopping complex it is in has more options for me when I am done with my workout.  The equipment was the same, but the setup was a bit different–both locations were maintained with an eye towards maintaining physical distancing and cleanliness.

Quickly found out my home pushup routine was not the same to lifting weights.  Got a new level of soreness from lifting but it felt good to be back in a weightlifting routine.  Do not think I will ever lift heavy weights again but want to keep lifting for definition and to feel good.  Got several good workouts in utilizing the free passes and I am seriously thinking about joining the LA Fitness family again.  Will evaluate each location again to see which one makes the most sense for me to join.  I could sign up for a membership which gives me multiple location privileges but that may be a waste of money—we will see. 

Look forward to sharing more of my workout journey in the future—back to LA Fitness and enjoying it! 😊

“Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going”.

(Jim Ryin)

Poetic Fridays

Control 

Life’s limitations can only limit what you allow

You have control over all circumstances

This I will avow

The simplicity of life will make you see

The things most important can be

Right in front of you

But you must stay true

The vision you have requires additional work, time, and effort

Put the past behind

Start to remove the limitations from the process and let the simplicity of life

Guide your path

“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language”.

(W.H. Auden)