Who are you? Self-awareness

Make Things Happen

“Self-awareness is the golden key to making life changing decisions and sticking to them”.

(Dr. Prem Jagyasi)

Dictionary.com defines self-awareness as conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

Sounds simple enough but I like to explore self-awareness more when I conduct teambuilding exercises. Self-awareness is needed within the work environment and impacts how well the team functions.  We all bring different things into the work environment daily and need to understand how and what these things are.  I routinely ask the following question when I start the teambuilding process:

Who are you?

Take 2 minutes and ask yourself the question Who are you? multiple times.  Record each of your responses.  My examples to this exercise are:

  • Who are you?  Black man
  • Who are you?  Blogger
  • Who are you?  Leader
  • Who are you?  Running tourist
  • Who are you?  Son
  • Who are you?  Uncle
  • Who are you?  Mentor
  • Who are you?  Friend

Now it is your turn—answer the question and record your responses—I will wait! 😊

How many responses did you list to the question?

The answers may surprise people you work with and maybe yourself.  There is not a right or wrong way to supply responses to the question.  The major point is everything you listed enters the work environment with you daily.

This is an important point as we build teams and help staff members get to know others on the team.  I have used this teambuilding exercise multiple times to enhance the work environment and help with team growth. 

The point of this process is to allow team members to fully understand what they bring to work. It also shows a new level of self-awareness and how we interact with others.  This exercise enhances team awareness and shows everyone they have more in common than they thought.

True leaders can use this data to ensure they treat staff members as individuals and not let their self-awareness impact how they treat others. 

Example:  I do not have kids–this should not impact how I deal with a parent who needs to leave work early because of a sick child.  Some people in leadership positions make decisions based on their worldview only.  This is a horrible way to lead a team.

Authentic leaders understand how they are viewed and the impact this has on the team.  Self-aware leaders create more self-aware leaders. 

So, I ask again—who are you?  How does this level of self-awareness impact your daily interactions?

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself”.

(Abraham Maslow)

The grateful 5 (5 things I’m grateful for)

Grateful

“A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles”

(Pinterest)

Dictionary.com defines grateful as feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful.

Pretty simple concept and one to dig into a bit more.  I do a lot of reading and came across a blog article titled the Top 5 Things I am Grateful For.  The article and title are straight forward so I decided to try my writing chops to explore this from my perspective.

Family

Spend any amount of time with me and I will tell you about my family.  My family on my mom’s side consists of 5 uncles and 4 aunts.  The last time we counted I had 32 first cousins and 69 second cousins.  I know that last number has gone up, but we have not counted them in a long time.

This large extended family unit allowed me to grow up in an environment where most of my early friends were family members.   We did not add nonfamily friends until we started school because there were enough of us around to field our own teams in most sports.

I am grateful for having so many family members who go out of their way to look out for each other.  Seems like a simple thing but we spent most Thanksgivings with this large unit and enjoyed our time together.  COVID-19 put a halt on our large family get togethers last year but hopefully we can find a way to get the crew together this year—safely!

Friends

My Walk into the Future journey has allowed me to make some truly great friends.  Please note, I do not let a lot of people into my inner circle, so my friends are special people to me.  I have friends who are not cousins and I have known them my entire life.  We stay connected and get back together whenever possible and continue to grow our friendship.

I have friends I met while in the Air Force and we have become our own family unit.  I look forward to getting together and catching up whenever possible.  COVID-19 has put a halt to our running tourist trips, but I am sure we will get back on track in the future.  New Orleans is calling!

I met my best friend in the gym one morning as she bullied me to help her with the weights she was lifting—true story! 😊  Seriously, a simple gym conversation launched a great friendship, and we chat and catch up on life as much as possible.  See you on Park Avenue!

My tree branches are all friends I look forward to catching up with.  Could be a simple email, text, or phone call but love hearing how well my folks are doing in this world.  I enjoy seeing them exploring life via Instagram stories and pictures they share.  I live through them daily and enjoy seeing the growth of my tree. WE ARE!  Go Bucks! Go Noles! Go Gators!

Running

I found running later in life but cannot imagine a world without me putting in my miles.  The concept of running a half marathon was foreign to me in 2013 but now I run 6 to 8 half marathons yearly (pre-COVID).  I had no intention to run another half marathon after my first attempt because it took me three full weeks to recover.  Of course, I had no idea how to train, hydrate or recover properly—lessons learned the hard way! LOL.

My stated goal for 2022 is to explore my first full marathon.  I am hoping COVID does not come back like 2020 and eliminates all future running events.  I am always looking for motivation when I run so training for a full marathon should keep me putting in the miles for years to come.  Trying to convince several friends to come race with me. Let’s go Laurens! 😊

“Running helps me maintain my ‘never killed anyone’ streak”.

(Pinterest)

Health

Happy to report I can eat and drink whatever I want.  My running and weight training programs help with this, but I am blessed with good health.  Running has not caused undue aches or pains and helps me maintain a healthy weight without counting calories.  My weight training provides strong muscle structure to keep me moving forward.  My annual physicals produce good numbers, and the doctor does not have to get onto me to eliminate anything from my diet.  Grateful to continue to age well! 😊

My Blog

Started the Walk into the Future blog without a clear understanding how it would impact me.  I thought I would just write a few things down and see if anyone wanted to read my words.  Turns out the blog has become an extension of me and gives me a platform to share thoughts, ideas, and adventures.  My writing process has slowed down as my work obligations expand but I am still able to keep 4 to 5 weeks of blog articles in my production library.  I would like to get back up to 8 to 10 weeks of articles in reserve in case I need to revise or update them before publishing.  Not sure how long I will continue to publish the blog but still have a ton of material to explore so hope you stay with me on this journey! 😊

Bonus:  My readers

Grateful for everyone who takes the time to read my blog.  Your positive affirmations always put a smile on my face and inspire me to work to produce better content weekly.  Thank you for following the Walk into the Future blog!  Well done!

What are YOU grateful for?  I welcome your thoughts!

“The struggles ends when the gratitude begins”.

(Neale Donald Walsh)

Walking with a positive work environment (Repost)

(Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

“Positive work environments outperform negative work environments”.

(Daniel Goleman)

Positive people make positive things happen is one of my favorite sayings to inspire people in my world.  I created this as a mantra when I enter a work environment to help my team understand the mindset, we need to get positive results.

I was introduced to Positive Psychology during my course work and it remains with me daily.  One premise of Positive Psychology is people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.  This could be on a personal or professional level.  I like leveraging Positive Psychology within the work environment to show direct reports how our mindset influences work outcomes.

I mentioned in an earlier post, my daily response to how I am doing is to say fantastic.  This is not a way to hide my true thoughts or feelings but a way to energize myself.  I found by saying I am doing fantastic provides a new level of energy for myself and it can inspire others around me to join in on the fun.  The word fantastic is not used very often in daily life so it makes people take notice and encourages them to get on The Energy Bus.

Now imagine if you had a leader who was always negative and never had anything nice to say.  How would this person impact the work environment?  I am sure this negative mindset would translate to everyone in the work environment and would not be a pleasant place to work. 

Leaders must be cognizant how their energy (positive or negative) impacts the work environment.  This knowledge will go a long way to build a positive work environment culture to ensure positive things get done daily.  Sounds simple, huh?

It takes a while for this positive process to take hold within a new work environment.  The speed of this process can be enhanced when everyone is ready to engage.  One negative teammate can slow or aggravate the process, but this can be mitigated by the rest of the team pulling in the same direction.  A new initiative for me is to follow Rule #6 from The Energy Bus—I have a sign posted that reads No Energy Vampires Allowed in my office in a prominent location.  I will point to the sign when the tone of a conversation starts to become negative.  I welcome different views and opinions but look to negate negative tone, language, or interactions.  It takes time to eliminate the negative, but the goal is to move forward in a positive manner.  I struggle sometimes because I want everything to head in a positive direction but also know things take time. 

A positive work environment is a place where everyone can thrive, grow, and provide input.  We spend a large amount of our lives in the work environment and I strive to create a space where we can work hard, laugh, and enjoy the process.  Leaders who understand work does not have to be stressful create a space where productivity can be displayed daily.  I have worked in places where people dreaded coming to work and I made a vow to never duplicate these types of environments when I reached the big seat.  Well, I have been in the big seat for a while now and smile whenever one of my tree branches reach out and say they want to work with me again.

I am sure not everyone feels this way, but I have enough of these folks to form my own wolf pack.  😊 Still learning and growing but will continue to promote positive work environments because they are productive and fun.  Imagine that, fun in the workplace!  Guess Google, Microsoft and Apple understand what people want in the work environment.  I do not have ping pong tables, yet, but play a lot of reggae in my office.  Irie!

What do you see as the benefits of a positive work environment?  How do you contribute to ensure your work environment remains positive?

 “Positive anything is better than negative nothing”.

(Elbert Hubbard)

The Wonder Years

art artistic blank page book
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My how the time flies

When you look back and wonder

How did we get here?

When did that happen?

The promise that was promised

Had diminished over time

And left the wonder of why

And can the path be adjusted

To fulfill the destiny of the wonder

That was first wondered by me

Half Marathon training (South Florida)

Celebration of running

“Life is short…running makes it seem longer”.

(Baron Hansen)

September 5, 2021 is coming!  This date may only be circled on my calendar, but it has importance to my Walk into the Future.

The Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon will take place on 9/5/21.  This year’s race marks the 20th anniversary of the Rock n Roll series in Virginia Beach and will also be the last time this race is run.  Received an email last week stating the city of Virginia Beach and the Rock n Roll series agreed to make this the last hoorah.  This is my first visit to Virginia Beach, and I will have to make the most of it.

The date of the half marathon is significant to me due to my training program.  I did not have a huge half marathon training focus in 2020 due to COVID-19.  I got miles in but never found my training pace because most races were cancelled due to COVID protocols.

Fast forward to 2021 and races are slowly coming back and the running tourist in me is excited to hit the road again.  I am looking forward to exploring new locations and testing myself against courses I have only read about or seen pictures.

So, what’s the problem you may ask?  Great question and thanks!  The problem is:  it is HOT down here!!! 😊

I will not get into the concept of climate change, global warming, etc. but this south Florida heat and humidity is impacting my training program.

I officially launched my half marathon training on 6/28/21.  This put me two months out from the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll half and should be plenty of time to get mentally and physically prepared to run.  I am getting my runs and bike rides in but struggle to extend my miles due to the heat and humidity in my current location.  My long runs top out at 7 miles because I want to be mindful of the impact the heat has while training. 

I get up earlier for my weekend runs but the temperature hits the mid-80s by 9 am and only goes up from there.  Not complaining because most of my runs on done close to the water so I can always stop and make it a beach outing when I am done with my runs.

I did not think the four-hour drive from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce would make much difference on my running program but there is a different level of heat down here.  Again, not complaining but stating a fact.  This is a fact I must come to grips with soon to keep preparing for future races.  I targeted several local 5ks to keep my competitive juices flowing but need these short races to get me race ready. 

I added more bike rides (gym and outside) to get more miles on my legs to build up the threshold needed to run and complete a half marathon.  This is a new approach for me but a safe way to extend my training without having to deal with the south Florida heat.

I recently added treadmill runs to my training program.  I am not a fan of running on a treadmill, but this equipment allows me to log miles and push myself to get ready for the actual process of running a half marathon.  My new training routine consists of morning miles on my regular route near the beach and then a treadmill session with equal miles.

The one treadmill trick I started using is to cover the time/distance/speed display.  Running on the treadmill is a mentally draining exercise for me and I believe it is because the display does not match what I THINK I’m accomplishing.  Simply put, it feels like I have run further than the display shows so I get frustrated with the process.  Covering the display allows me to forget about the distance and time and just put in the work.  I see multiple people who appear to enjoy their time on the treadmill, and I am amazed watching them.  I need to get over my treadmill DREAD and just put in the work. 

Looking forward to cooler weather so I can get back to longer outside runs again.  Did I mention it is hot in South Florida? 😊

“Don’t be a jogger.  They are the ones who find dead bodies”.

(RuntotheFinish)

Authentic Leadership continues to grow

Chess

(Image by Devanath from Pixabay

“Authentic leadership is revealed in the alignment of what you think, what you say, and what you do”.

(Michael Holland)

Authentic Leadership continues to be a driving force in my daily interactions.  Amazing how I stumbled across this leadership style during my dissertation process back in 2013 but it is something I genuinely believe makes a difference in the work environment.

I am also amazed by the number of folks who only know about this leadership style after talking with me or sitting in one of my presentations.  Looks like I need to do a better job of spreading the benefits of Authentic Leadership. 😊

I was asked back in January if I would be willing to be the guest speaker for the local Association of Florida Colleges (AFC) monthly professional development program.  Inspiration Man was quick to say yes, and the topic they requested was Authentic Leadership.  I had to dust off my files but thought this was an excellent opportunity to share Authentic Leadership with colleagues at my new school.

This was one of the first time I was able to stand in front of a group of people since early 2020 due to COVID-19.  I was excited to be in front of live folks again in my efforts to move the crowd. 

I started the presentation with a brief introduction to Authentic Leadership and the benefits it brings to the work environment. 

Authentic Leadership is rooted in positive psychology and allows leaders to improve their self-awareness and regulated behaviors.  The importance of self-awareness becomes more evident daily as I interact with others. 

All Authentic Leadership variables are important but none of the others come into play if a leader is not self-aware.  This was a major feature of my presentation to my AFC colleagues.  There were several head nods when I made this point and a couple folks asked if they could expand on how self-awareness helps them daily.

The four variables were shared:  self-awareness, relational transparency, internalized moral perspective and balanced processing.  The variables were highlighted together as a quick overview and then I did a complete breakdown to show how each enhances the work environment.

  • Self-awareness—the leader displays a full understanding of strengths, weaknesses and how others view their leadership
  • Relational Transparency—the leader presents their authentic self to build trust. This includes consistent words, thoughts, and actions.
  • Internalized moral perspective—the leader integrates personal morals with self-perspective.  Self-awareness enhances the leader’s ability to understand how their morals influence decision making.
  • Balanced processing—the leader can view multiple sides of an issue (positive and negative) before deciding on the issue.  This variable encourages direct reports to provide input because the leader wants their feedback.  This improves job satisfaction for direct reports.

I spent extra time on balanced processing because I want to train new leaders to understand how important this is in the work environment.  Staff will speak up with new ideas IF they believe input is wanted and will be acted on (as applicable).  Leaders who want input from staff need to let them know they are willing to listen but there are times when something truly cannot be done.  Nothing wrong with this because it enhances relational transparency in the work environment. 

The AFC members had a lot of questions about Authentic Leadership and how they can improve their self-awareness.  I am happy with the dialogue we started during the AFC event and look forward to sharing Authentic Leadership with other organizations soon.  Got a couple requests to bring my presentation into departmental meetings and I will say YES when the invites come in.  😊

How has your Authentic Leadership knowledge grown?

“The power for authentic leadership is found not in external arrangements, but in the human heart”.

(Parker J. Palmer)

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2013/05/12/what-is-authentic-leadership/?sh=6f7ed67fdef7

Heavy is the head that wears the crown!

crown

(Image by Radfotosonn from Pixabay

“Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets”.

(Luke 6:26)

My Walk into the Future in 2020 was an interesting journey!

I am sure everyone who just read that last sentence can highlight how 2020 was a unique year to remember—good or bad.  We all had to adjust in 2020 due to COVID-19 and these adjustments impacted our daily lives.

One area I needed to adjust was how I lead an organization with COVID-19 work protocols–working from home, virtual meetings and having staff with preexisting conditions.  None of these things were on our radar when 2020 started but quickly became necessary talking points in early March 2020 for most of us.

My gravitation to the Luke 6:26 verse came about because even when I am doing great work, I continue to look for an angle to motivate myself to do more.  I am not a person to rest on my laurels but look for ways to motivate myself and team to do more.  Luke 6:26 stands out to me today because I am happy to report not all men speak well of me on my current Walk into the Future.

I do not make that claim lightly but have found a level of motivation, enjoyment, and humor in this fact.  Turns out the people who do not speak well of me are the people who are slackers in their daily work endeavors.  It is obvious I take a lot of pride in getting positive things done, correctly and on-time.  I have discovered people who do not take pride in their work, who are satisfied with the status quo or who are plain lazy are not fans of people like me. 

I enter new organizations with the mission to make a difference daily—amazingly simple concept but one I do not take lightly.  I have discovered in my new work environment there WERE several people who were not held accountable for their daily actions.  You cannot make a difference daily without being accountable, so these people hear from me they are not meeting my expectations. 

Please note, these folks work or worked in multiple departments, so it was not isolated to just one area. 

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes the wicked incur abuse.”

(Proverbs 9:7)

A funny thing happened when I identified we all need to be accountable in the work environment.  Some did not speak well of me!  Not saying that to be nonchalant or play it down but I heard someone say they could not thrive in a work environment with expectations.  True statement!

I wish I were making this up, but it is true.  Imagine being in a work environment and a staff member has an issue with being accountable to the team and overall mission.  I have been on this professional journey for 30+ years now and find this a terribly sad state of mind for anyone. 

Turns out the previous leadership did not value accountability as much as they should have.  It is amazing how much energy is needed within an organization to correct these type thoughts and actions.  There have been times new leadership has been questioned but The Energy Bus continues to move forward.  Great things are happening and staff who did not have a voice are now able to fully contribute.  The new energy is contagious!

I hope there are other folks who do not speak well of me!  My work speaks for itself.  I was promoted to Administrative Director of Advising and Career Services on July 1, 2021.  Must be doing something right, huh? 😊

We will continue to Walk into the Future and do great things!  Irie!

Believe Shakespeare perfectly sums up this episode below!

“Heavy is the head that wears the crown”.

(Shakespeare)

Waxing Poetic!

Jetty

Really?

Black Lives Matter you say

Is that real or just a cliché?

Cannot believe we have to scream this everyday

Just to be heard, seen, and protected

From the brutal society trying to stamp us out

The daily body counts continue to rise

With no end in sight, we fall

Does not matter if it is a southern thing

Northern thing or western thing

Black lives continue to be extinguished

With no end in sight

So, I ask again, do Black Lives Matter?

When will you step up to make this true?

Simply saying it with no action makes it a hollow cliché

Something woke to say?

Time for action, some type of display

Marching is fine but there cannot be additional delay

Let us put more meaning to Black Lives Matter

Do it today!

Make your bed!

Books

“Good order is the foundation of all things”.

(Edmund Burke)

My Walk into the Future allows me to pick and choose my adventures and some take me to amazing places.  Others find me rooted at home but still bring a level of joy and satisfaction.

I am an avid reader and love to find new books to help me as a lifelong learner.  My latest find was the book by retired Admiral William H. McRaven titled Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe The World.  

The title is simple enough and gives the reader an understanding of what the Admiral will cover in this book.

I love the fact the book is broken up into short chapters that are easy to follow and integrate into daily life for readers.  Admiral McRaven uses things from his life to help highlight the importance of how little things add up to make life move forward.

The book starts with the simple premise of why making your bed daily sets the tone for the day.  I understood this fact when I read the book but did not fully gain knowledge until I shared the book with a coworker who reads more books than I do.  My coworker assumes since I am retired Air Force the concept of making your bed was instilled in me during my time in the Air Force.  He was surprised when I told him I rarely make my bed because I did not see the importance of the act.  I am not a slob but making my bed happens when it happens—I did not go out of my way to make the bed before heading to work.

My coworker was shocked with my admission. I can be set in my ways but went back and read the chapter on making your bed to figure out what I missed.

I started making my bed DAILY after reading again to see if this simple act made a difference in my day.  The verdict is in—yes, it does!

This simple act appears to be a springboard for a productive day for me. 

The flow I have been able to display at work came once I made the decision to start my day with a simple act of organization.  Taking the time to make my bed and organize before leaving the house for work or my runs puts me in a better mindset for the day.  I arrive at work with a mindset to organize and I can transition quicker once I make it to my desk.  This may all be a coincidence but the flow, production, and ability to get more accomplished came once I decided to make my bed.

This is a recent phenomenon for me but exciting at the same time.  The ability to make a difference daily is something I take pride in.  Making my bed appears to heighten my ability to get this done.

Let’s be clear on this!  I fully understand making the bed has not given me a new superpower, but it provides me an opportunity to cross off a daily task early in the day.  I view making my bed as the first win of the day and gets me ready to win throughout the day.  I love crossing things off my to-do lists and I can get this started before I leave the house. 

Therefore, making your bed is an important step for the day!  It sets the tone and establishes a foundation for success—give it a try and let’s see what making your bed can do for you!

What are your thoughts on the importance of making your bed?  How does it set the tone for the day?

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned”.

(Benjamin Franklin)

Cross Seminole Trail run

Seminole Cross Trail

“Running:  my sport is your sport’s punishment”.

(Funny running quotes)

Took me a little time to fully understand what being a runner truly means.  I started getting serious about running when I moved to Oviedo, Florida from Bonaire, Georgia. 

I ran in Georgia because I was still in the Air Force and needed to maintain my cardio fitness to ensure I completed our annual fitness test.  I was always in shape but focused on football, basketball and weightlifting while in the Air Force.  I signed up for an occasional 5k but never really trained for them—just showed up and ran.  I also had NO idea how important the correct shoes can be in this sport.

Now, back to the quote above.  I played football, basketball, and baseball back in the high school days.  I transitioned to flag football, basketball, softball and weightlifting during my time in the Air Force.  Coaches in both worlds routinely assigned RUNNING as a motivational tactic or punishment depending on how they felt.  A missed assignment in football was punished by running a lap or two around the track.  A missed free throw in basketball was punished by unlimited ‘down and backs’ on the basketball court.  An error in baseball or softball got a lap around the field to regain your focus.  So, as you can see, the quote above rings true in more ways than one. 😊

Fast forward to today and punishment from my younger days is something I routinely leave my house to accomplish, for fun! The therapeutic benefits have been amazing also.

Running has taken on a large part of my Walk into the Future, and I do not see it diminishing anytime soon.  I got into running later in life, so I am blessed to not have run related injuries that limit my ability to get my miles in.  I also know the importance of nutrition and stretching so make sure I take care of my body before, during and after my runs.

Another fun fact about my running program is I bring my running gear whenever I travel in case I can sneak a run in. Sometimes I never get a chance to break out my gear but want to be ready.

My work with the Central Florida Employment Council (CFEC) back in May brought me back to the Orlando area and the large trail systems available there.  My event with CFEC was on a Friday afternoon so I decided to hang out in Oviedo after the event so I could get up on Saturday morning and run the Seminole Cross Trail while in the area.  Yes, you read that right—Inspiration Man made a point to get a run in while in town making a difference. 

I love the Seminole Cross Trail because it has visible mile markers and most of the trail is shaded.  I made sure I got out early because I wanted to beat the Central Florida heat and still have time to enjoy time in Oviedo.

There was a lot of activity on the trail with bikers, walkers and runners sharing the trail.  I made a point to wave and say hello to everyone I saw on the trail.  My Fort Pierce runs do not provide many opportunities to see many folks during my runs, so it was great seeing others out enjoying the morning on the trail. 

A first for me was seeing someone riding a unicycle on the trail.  Guess I only thought people rode unicycles as part of a circus act but this guy rode by me at a good pace.  I was impressed with the ability to balance and ride a unicycle while avoiding people on a busy trail.  Started to wonder if I could ride one of those things.  Running provides time to think about stuff. 😊

I was able to complete a quick 6 mile run on the trail before it got too hot—not bad considering I was there for an event.

I look forward to leveraging the Seminole Cross Trail more as I ramp up my half marathon training.  I plan to get back into racing later in the year and need to start getting long runs in again. 

My run gear bag remains packed, and I am ready to keep logging miles.  Each run brings me closer to 1,000 training miles for the year.

How many miles have you logged this year?  Let’s get busy!

“Running helps me maintain my ‘never killed anyone’ streak”.

(Pinterest)