2022 Orlando Track Shack Winter Park 10k

WP 10k 1

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”.

(Fred DeVito)

Dictionary.com defines aggressive as making an all-out effort to win or succeed; competitive.

You could characterize my 2022 running schedule as aggressive.  I decided to test myself and get back to racing like how I ran prior to COVID-19.  My 2019 training was focused on getting faster each time I toed the line and resulted in my fastest time at the 2019 OUC Half Marathon in Orlando (2:05:51).  I was able to maintain my race form over the Christmas break and ran my second faster time at the 2020 New Orleans Rock N Roll Half Marathon in February 2020.  Races and the country came to a standstill in April 2020 due to the pandemic.

Fast forward to 2022 and I made a concerted effort to find more races and stay active with my race schedule.  I identified 9 half marathons I wanted to run throughout the year and targeted races to help with my quest to go faster.  I don’t run a lot of 5ks but added a challenging one to my race calendar to help me push myself. 

My most aggressive move for 2022 was to tackle the Winter Park 10k less than a week after running the Treasure Coast Half Marathon.  This concept made a lot of sense when I signed up but proved to be a bit more difficult than I thought.

The goal for the Winter Park 10k was to set another 10k Personal Record (PR) since I was able to lower my PR in this same race in 2021.  I did not think the limited time between races would impact me so toed the line with the confidence of someone who would be able to dictate pace and adjust when needed.

Turns out, this person did not exist for the Winter Park 10k. LOL.

The weather forecast in the Orlando area called for severe weather and it was hot, humid, and overcast as race time drew closer.  A lot of runners were checking the weather apps to determine how much time we had before the skies opened and we were going to get wet.

Luckily, the rain held off long enough for us to run the 10k and get some time to spend in the race village before getting soaked.  FYI—this was unusual weather for Orlando in March—temperatures are normally cooler and no threats of rain.

Track Shack does not use corral starts for the smaller races so everyone can line up as close to the start line as they want.  This brings runners with different race expectations together and creates a unique environment where you must be careful not to run over or bump into people. 

The first mile of this race is always interesting since you have elite athletes mixed in with weekend warriors.  I like to hang back during the first mile to avoid collisions and the possibility of tripping while trying to get my pace up.

I entered the race with a goal to run sub 55 minutes and I got off to a better-than-expected start in Mile 1 (9:00), Mile 2 (9:14), Mile 3 (9:57).  I was happy with this pace considering the amount of bumping we had just to clear people during the first mile of the race.  I did not realize how much I slowed down during Mile 3 while running the race but felt myself slowing down.  I chalked it up to the energy expended during Mile 1 and figured I would level my pace out and kick it into gear to move faster.  Well, I kicked it in gear, but it appears the gear kicked me back.  😊

Have you ever pressed your gas pedal in your vehicle, and nothing happens?  That’s exactly what happened to me during this race.  I put the pedal down ‘in my mind’ but my body did not react in the way I wanted it to.  Mile 4 (10:09), Mile 5 (10:46), Mile 6 (11:00) did not go as planned, I had no extra gear or legs to carry me much faster than what I just threw down.  I was able to muster up a kick to finish the race that allowed me to cross the finish line with a smile on my face.  The crowd along Park Avenue was great as they cheered for all runners—I appreciate them being out so early to cheer for strangers.  I finished in 1:02:17 which is a 10:01 per mile pace.

I pouted about my results for about 3 minutes after the race.  I spoke with several elite runners who described their race like what I just experienced.  The heat and humidity got to them too so hearing that made me fell a lot better about my race.  Several mentioned they thought about quitting during the race because the conditions were so tough.  It’s funny how hearing about the misery other runners felt made me feel good about myself again. 😊  We are a funny group of people.

I originally thought running a 10k less than a week after a half marathon may have been the reason, I did not have an extra gear.  It may have been a factor, but the heat and humidity also contributed to my results.  I plan to space my races out a bit more but will continue to be aggressive with my selection.

Currently prepping for the 2022 Nashville Rock N Roll (April) and Atlantic City Rock N Roll (May) Half Marathons.  No races scheduled for the summer.  I start the new racing season in October with the 2022 Clearwater Rock N Roll Half Marathon and a couple local races throughout the fall.  The running tourist will stay active with races if it remains safe to travel.

Being aggressive is not a bad thing! 😊

Irie!

“Running releases more than just sweat”.

(run-for-good.com)

Make your bed! (Repost)

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)

Busy or productive?

Busy or Productive

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life”.

(Socrates)

Dictionary.com defines busy as having a great deal to do.

Conversely, Dictionary.com defines productive as producing or able to produce large amounts of goods, crops, or other commodities.

So, which of these definitions describes your daily endeavors in the workplace?

People use the terms in a similar fashion, but I am quick to tell folks my goal is to be productive daily

Busy can quickly become a mindset that leads to staff becoming overwhelmed with the tasks they must handle in the work environment.  I ask staff members how they are doing throughout the day and when I hear someone say they are busy I simply ask:  are you busy or productive?

This makes folks pause for a bit and then they want to know the difference.  Again, I refer to the two distinct definitions.  Someone who exclaims they are busy is identifying they have a lot of things to do, and they are thinking about that workload.  Some will just come out and say I have a lot on my plate and need to get things done.  Sounds reasonable but it can also cause a mental drain on the staff member and anyone else who hears a constant “I am busy” drumbeat in the work environment.  Yes, there may be a lot to do but saying ‘busy’ does not move the needle to get things done. 

Flip the script!

My goal is to be productive daily, and this starts with the concept of coming to work to get things done.  The old saying talk is cheap would apply here.  Talking about being busy does nothing to get task accomplished.  A productive mindset allows staff members to come in with focus and take an active role in getting things done.  Tools I use to increase productivity:

  • To Do Lists (daily, weekly, monthly)
  • Outlook calendar (meeting reminders, team time off, out of office reminders)
  • Face to face conversations
  • Email
  • Large Post It Notes on my office walls
  • Staff meetings (group, 1:1, virtual)

I have used To Do Lists for most of my professional life and these lists help me plan/organize my day to keep me focused on deadlines and work products I need to complete.  I begin each morning before going into the office with a list of action items I want to accomplish for the day.  I sync this list up with any items I did not complete the previous day once I arrive in the office. 

FYI, I am also the first person in the building most days so I can have 45 minutes to consolidate my lists and build a game plan for the day.  Yes, I put this much thought into my operation to ensure I have a productive day.  I am trying to maximize my opportunities to be productive and leverage all the tools available to help me with this.  A secondary benefit of my lists is they allow me to pick up where I left off when I must help staff members with a task or problem.  I can come back and pick up where I left off without wasting time trying to remember what I need to get done.  Please note, staff and clients take priority, so I get a lot of practice coming back to my daily lists.

Face to face conversations are a great way to keep the productivity flowing.  I find simply getting up from my desk and going to have a conversation is more productive than emailing back and forth.  We can talk things through, come to a consensus and eliminate potential misunderstandings.  Of course, this only works if the person is available to have a conversation. 😊

Busy or productive office

The large Post It Notes on my office walls is something I started while working in the Florida State University’s Career Center.  The concept was for me to put big projects on Post It Notes so staff could come into the office and add updates to each project.  I began to allow staff to build their own projects and put them on my office walls so we could work them together.  I got the Post It Note idea because my white board was not large enough to highlight multiple projects.  I purchase the Post It Notes from Staples and they stick to the wall.  These notes provide a great visual to highlight how productive we are on any given day.  One of my current staff members said coming into my office and seeing the notes is like being ‘in my mind’.  I quickly told her to get out of there because there is a lot going on up there. 😊

There are other ways to become productive in the work environment, but these are a few that I leverage daily to help move me and the organization forward.

So, I ask you, are you busy or productive?  What tools are you using to help your productivity?  I welcome your thoughts—thanks!

“Focus on being productive instead of busy”.

(Tim Ferris)

My Refrigerator Door!

Fridge

“Life moves so fast.  You gotta document the good times, man”.

(Big Boi)

Luke Combs is one of my favorite artists and he continues to generate hits on the country music charts.  His lyrics have a poetic flow and speaks to daily things we all experience in one form or another.

I discovered his music during the 2020 Country Music Awards (CMA) show and quickly identified him as a rising star and promptly added his song, Beer Never Broke my Heart to my running playlist.  Yes, I run with country music! 😊

I continue to dive into his discography and discover songs that I identify with.  I did not realize how long he has been in the music business, but I love everything he has put out.  Fans routinely identify ‘Luke has never made a bad song’ comments on his YouTube channel.  I am sure he has a dud or two somewhere, but I can’t find one.  I have been on a monthlong binge of his music where I play his music at work, driving home and then again when I get home.  Guess you can say I am a fan.

My latest find is a song he put out in 2019 called Refrigerator Door.  Very basic concept where he identifies the family memories that are on the refrigerator door in his house.  This is something we can all relate to, most of us have placed something memorable on the refrigerator door:  report cards, kids sports schedule, family vacation pictures, etc.

Decided this was a great time to let the Walk into the Future blog readers in on my refrigerator door secret.  I have never placed report cards, sports schedules, or vacation pictures on my refrigerator door. 

My door is covered with magnets.  Yes, you read that correctly.  My refrigerator door is covered with 70+ magnets.  I started collecting magnets as part of my travel while in the Air Force and never really stopped.  My goal is to collect a magnet each time I travel to a new state, city, or country.  I always thought I would get bored with putting magnets on the door, but it is exciting to me to look at the door for the memories that are hanging there.

I have had family members and friends who send me magnets from places they have visited, but I do not put those on my door.  My entire magnet concept is to put magnets up for places I have experienced.  This keeps me motivated to continue my running tourist momentum to find races in places I have never been so I can explore new places AND get my magnet.

I added Clearwater Beach (Florida), Norfolk and Virginia Beach (Virginia), Southern Shores and Duck (North Carolina) and Savannah (Georgia) to the refrigerator door in 2021.  I will add Atlantic City, New Jersey to the door in May when I head up there for the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  I am sure I will find some other places to visit and collect more hardware for my door.

The memories I can capture with pictures are great, but my magnet collection allows me to relive great memories daily since I see the door every time I am in the kitchen.  I know magnets may not be for everyone, but this is a simple, easy, and inexpensive way to capture memories.

What do you have on your refrigerator door? 😊

“Nothing but good times ahead”.

(Jennifer Cruisie)

Goal progress—where are you?

Goals

“The great danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark”.

(Michelangelo)

Decided to check my 2021 goals in December to see how well I did to accomplish the things I projected to get done back in January 2021.

Yearly goals are a big part of my planning process and I love checking things off my list.  The written goal is a way to ensure success and provides clarity on things to get done in the new year. 

2021 presented some unique opportunities for me and I am happy to grow on a professional and personal level.

There was only one area where I did not meet or exceed my written goal.  I started 2021 with a written goal to cook weekly and I started the year off well.  I made a point to meal prep and utilized my crock pot for convenience.  My cooking goal lasted about two months before the wheels fell off on my progress.  Working late and my scheduled after work runs are the excuses but the convenience of the drive-thru is the real reason.  Turns out it is a lot easier and quicker to pull up and order something without having to come home and cook.  I realize the drive-thru is not the healthiest option for me, but I rationalize this process with an extra run or two to combat.  I will do a much better job with this goal in 2022!

Travel

Travel was an area I wanted to hit specific marks in 2021.  COVID-19 eliminated most travel plans in 2020 and I wanted to get back on the road once it was safe again.  I was leery of the vaccine process early on but fully embraced the concept once the vaccine was available.  I wanted to be able to see family and friends again without the concern of bringing the virus with me.  I understand vaccinated people can still carry but felt a sense of relief once I received the Moderna doses.

I routinely took monthly excursions prior to COVID-19 and looked forward to doing this again.  Clearwater, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Melbourne were targeted cities for my monthly getaways and happy to report I hit them all.  Orlando and Melbourne were regular visits for me in 2021.  I also made it back to Jasper at least once per month to see my mom and family. 

My visit to Clearwater Beach back in January was my first time there.  I always saw pictures and heard about the area but never took time to visit.  I am happy I made the trip over and will return October 2022 to run in the inaugural Clearwater Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  Plan to get more sightseeing in when I get there.

Got in a few running tourist opportunities too:  Virginia Beach, Savannah, and Orlando.

My last 2021 travel adventure got me back to Nashville, Tennessee to listen to live music and enjoy a great city.  The Wild Horse Saloon was closed on this trip, but I will be back for the 2022 Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon in April.  I will get my line dancing in when I return. 😊

Exercise program

Exercise is a huge part of my daily routine.  This is an area I take a lot of pride in and hit all my goals in 2021. 

The first thing I wanted to hit was 1,000 training miles.  Happy to report I was able to finish the year with 1,055 training miles.  Building training runs into my daily schedule allowed me to hit this mark without feeling rushed to get training completed.  I will leverage my 2021 training routine to build an aggressive 2022 training goal to help me challenge myself.  Will share this number in a later post.

I set a goal to break my Personal Record (PR) in a 10k race and beat my friend Lauren Kume’s time in 2021.  I ran a PR of 55:57 (Fifty-five minutes and 57 seconds) at the 2021 Winter Park 10k in March 2021.  I did not run faster than Lauren, so I get to try again in 2022.  I am registered for the same race in March 2022 and will work to get closer to 54 flat—still more work to do but headed in a good direction.  Seems I am always chasing Lauren, but she inspires my running program—thank you!  😊

My workouts in 2021 were much improved.  I still make it to the gym for weight training at least two times per week and upgraded my home equipment to enhance my strength training.  I got in 5 body weight sessions weekly to complement my work in the gym.  I was able to add more muscle definition and maintain my weight even though I do not eat the healthiest.  I will correct my eating habits in 2022.

Writing

I maintained a consistent writing program throughout 2021.  I published several articles on LinkedIn and added my poetry to the Walk into The Future blog.  My blog library allowed me to publish weekly content to share my thoughts, views, and travel with readers.  I gained a few more blog followers and incorporated content several friends requested.  I plan to continue to build new blog content in 2022—don’t know how much longer I will use this platform, but I have other areas I want to explore for the blog so keep sending me your ideas.  I will work to build content to keep your interest.

I did not publish my Leadership ebook in 2021 but did work on content throughout the year.  I talked with a designer to build the cover art but will need to reengage with him to finalize the cost for the project.  This will be a rollover goal for 2022.

Happy with my 2021 goal progress and excited to launch my 2022 goals towards another successful year.

How did YOU do on meeting your 2021 goals?  What big things do you have planned for 2022?

Make it great!

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”.

(C.S. Lewis)

Inspiration Man—Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE) Keynote

Keynote

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.  The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.

(Winston Churchill)

To keynote or not? 

This was a question I faced back in October 2021 when one of my friends asked me to consider being the keynote speaker for a virtual Drive-In conference.

The Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE) members come from college/university Career Services and employers who maintain active on-campus recruiting programs.

I have been a member of FloridaACE for over 10 years and have made some great contacts throughout the state of Florida. 

Fun fact, I was selected as the keynote for the inaugural Drive-In Conference back in 2016.  I gave my keynote address at the University of Central Florida in the building I used to work in prior to moving to FSU.  Who says you can’t come home again? 😊

The Drive-In Conference is designed to be shorter than a regular conference—a day and a half instead of a full week.  The concept of the Drive-in Conference is to make it accessible to a large population of attendees who can physically drive to the location and not need hotel accommodations.

COVID-19 made the concept of virtual conferences come to life and this Drive-In Conference was switched to a virtual format.

I love to spread the Inspiration Man message to any group that will sit and listen.  I hesitated to accept this request because it was via Zoom, and I did not know how my message would translate on a virtual platform.  I love in-person audiences and feed off the crowd when I present.  A virtual keynote was a challenge to me but one I am happy I accepted—things went well from start to finish.

The 2021 FloridaACE Virtual Drive-In Conference was titled: Gulf-to-Coast Connections.

I reached out to my friend to get a better understanding of the conference title and how significant it was to attendees.  Turns out the term gulf was picked so people in western Florida would not feel left out.  I decided to focus on the conference in terms of how people on both coasts (Gulf and Atlantic) could connect to build Authentic Connections.  Yes, I put authentic in most things I do these days. 😊

Happy to report I accepted the Keynote invitation and was able to move the crowd on a virtual platform.

I researched the term Authentic Connections to build my knowledge base as I worked to create a presentation to inspire others.  There is a ton of research available, and my new task was to filter this data in a way to build the presentation.

The key to any form of connection is RELATIONSHIPS.  My goal during the keynote was to highlight to the attendees how technology (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, etc.) allow us to reach a larger audience than before.  There was always a mindset to catch-up with colleagues during the annual in-person conference or workshop.  This was an effective way to connect back in the day, but COVID created new options/ways to connect.

We can reach out to potential mentors and colleagues by utilizing the technology we have.  My keynote centered on how FloridaACE members could leverage technology and build authentic connections.

Authentic Connections should be genuine, direct, and focused.  My point for the group was to highlight relationships can be built virtually, in-person or a combination of both platforms.  You must want to make a connection for it to happen.  Networking with an intentional mindset helps build connections too.

I would have been remiss if I did not talk about some of the challenges we face when attempting to make new connections:

  • COVID-19
  • No in-person events
  • Zoom fatigue
  • Multiple platform (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, etc.)

Simply figuring out how and when to connect with others has been a challenge even for me. 

Some folks prefer a phone call, others are all about Zoom and then you have a set who want in-person connections because they want to feel normal again.  I shared with my audience it is okay to identify a preferred platform and stick with that.  I prefer Microsoft Teams now when connecting with anyone not on-campus with me.  The key to this I have found is to state the preference up-front and then provide a Microsoft Teams calendar invite to eliminate confusion on how/when we will connect. 

The concept of recalibrate was addressed to ensure attendees understand they must adjust thought processes in today’s world.  We are not going back to pre-COVID networking so finding authentic connections should be prioritized for them to happen.  Following up after making a request is an outstanding way to continue to build the connections needed to make a difference in the world.

Being a keynote speaker during a virtual conference was a new experience for me but I was able to make several authentic connections during and after the event.  Will see how many attendees follow-up with me and leverage the wisdom I dropped on them.

How do you make/ensure authentic connections in your world?  Thanks!

“Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to keep the attention of their listeners”.

(Dale Carnegie)

80s day at work!

80s Beth and Calvin

“If work isn’t fun, you’re not playing on the right team”.

(Frank Sonnenberg)

The concept of FUN at work comes up often when discussing how to keep organizations moving forward.  The quote above makes me laugh with the simplicity of the concept but it does have a place in the modern work environment.

Organizations that do not allow their staff members to unwind and have fun are doomed to have unhappy people in the workplace daily.  I am not saying staff must be entertained daily but the concept of fun has shown to be an attractive variable for some well-known organizations.

Google leads the way for work environment fun with nap pods, video games and ping pong tables available daily for staff members.  Who would not want to take a nap at work?  Genius concept!

Texas Roadhouse is another organization that values fun at work.  It’s right there in the mission statement:  We are committed to our shared Core Values of Passion, Partnership, Integrity, and Fun with Purpose

The staff gets to line dance multiple times during their shifts to some upbeat country music.  It is great watching the staff members dance with huge smiles on their faces while enjoying being at work.

Well, if the Texas Roadhouse folks can dance at work, then why can’t I?  That is a loaded question but one that we recently overcame in my current work environment.

Yes, there can be dancing at work! 😊

A friend at work and I started joking a few months ago about having a break-dancing contest in the parking lot.  It was our little inside joke and it made us both laugh.  We would mention the dance contest passing each other in the hallway and occasionally feign a dance move.  A couple of our coworkers overheard us talking about break-dancing and offered we should have a dance battle at work—true story.

This led to others chiming in that we should have the contest at work and dress the part.  The more this talk went on the more buzz the topic generated at work.  A final suggestion was everyone in the building should wear 80s gear and we should make it an event.  Please note, while at the FSU Career Center we had a Fantasy Career Day in October.  Staff members dressed in gear to represent their fantasy career—one year I went as a golfer complete with golf shirt, shorts, and a golf club.  This was the only time I wore shorts to work as a professional—it was great! 😊

This concept was the catalyst for us to create an 80s-decade event for our division.  I went to my boss to let her know we were dressing in the 80s and her response was:  I am coming as Madonna!  I did not have to make a plea; it was as simple as that.

The entire campus caught the energy, and the Fall Celebration Day was established.  The challenge went out to other divisions to dress in a preferred decade—we had dibs on the 80s.  The 60s and 70s were quickly grabbed by folks on campus and the celebration was on.

We decided to go all in for the 80s and dress the part.  I was a frequent eBay shopper as I looked for the perfect 80s outfit to enjoy the day.  The great thing about the 80s is the multiple phases we all went through—so many great looks to choose from.  I went with the mid-80s Hip Hop look as a throwback to some of my favorite artists—Eric B and Rakim, DJ Easy Rock and Public Enemy.

I was able to find multiple options for vintage Nike 80s track suit within my stated budget.  I was also able to find a fake (plastic) gold chain to accessorize my look.  A quick trip to Party City allowed me to complete the look with large rings for my fingers to really get that throwback look.  One of my colleagues had an old boom box at home and allowed me to borrow it for the day to complete my 80s throwback look.

Fast forward to 10/29/21 and we produced old school flyers to pass out on-campus to promote the dance battle in our building.  We wanted to ensure we had an audience and allow everyone to join in on the fun.  There were several practice sessions so we could space out the dance battle and then bring in a few surprise guests—we kept the surprises close to the vest so it would enhance the event.

We coordinated a three round dance battle to get the crowd pumped and generate fun, laughter, and anticipation.  The goal was to have fun!

I won the dance battle coin toss and elected to have my friend lead off with his first routine.  We agreed to three rounds and then get silly with dances an old dude would do:  the sprinkler, starting a lawn mower and the robot.  The crowd got into each round and really enjoyed the process of two professionals making a fool of themselves at work—it was all for fun! 😊

We finished our dance sequences back-to-back in a B Boy Stance.  We positioned ourselves directly in front of our VP—on purpose!

She pushed us both out of her way as the Salt N Pepa classic hit ‘Push It’ started to play.  This was surprise #1 and she rocked it.  She had been practicing for two weeks to get her moves right and started out with the 80s dance classic, The Roger Rabbit—the crowd went wild!  We joined her after with a choreographed rendition from the Push It video—don’t think I have ever had that much fun at work.

We got everyone in the building up and dancing with a classic Soul Train line.  It was fun to see others with HUGE smiles on their faces as they went through the Soul Train line multiple times.  I went through the line about 5 times since we were buying additional time for Surprise #2.

We have a Performing Arts program on-campus and partnered with faculty to request a student flash.  The students practiced the Michael Jackson’s 80s classic Thriller dance to finish off our dance party.  I had our DJ adjust the music once I saw the students enter the building.  We cleared the dance floor and let the students take over.  They were a big hit with the crowd as they went through their Thriller routine—it was fantastic!

The last part of our event was the Electric Slide!  Most of the folks hit the dance floor again as we did the Electric Slide—a great way to complete a dance party.

I have not seen people smile so much at work as they did during our 80s day!  Several made a point to let me know this was the best day they have had at work.  The smiles and happy faces made dances in front of colleagues worth the effort.  Some have asked what we plan to do to top this event—I’m going to let someone else plan the next event, but we will continue to have fun at work.

What do you do to have fun at work?

“Work is either fun or drudgery.  It depends on your attitude.  I like fun”.

(Colleen Barrett)

Intellectual curiosity

Creative picture

(Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay)

“There is no magic formula for great company culture.  The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated”.

(Richard Branson)

Psychology Today identifies intellectual curiosity as a deep and persistent desire to know.

Betterup.com dives deeper by defining intellectual curiosity as curiosity that leads to an acquisition of general knowledge. 

At this point I am sure you are wondering where I am headed with intellectual curiosity.  Glad you asked! 😊

This has become a major characteristic I look for when working with others.  I was never able to find the exact term until recently but intellectual curiosity in the workplace provides a foundation for success.

Interestingly, this is not something everyone is able to display easily.  I see people who practice this trait when something is near and dear to them on a personal or professional level.  The key for me is for everyone to translate intellectual curiosity daily in the workplace.

Why you ask?  Great question!

People who display intellectual curiosity can find new ways to get things done.  There are multiple work environments where the mindset is we have always done it that way. This may be true but organizations and people who cannot evolve are doomed to fail.  It may take time for the demise, but it will happen.

Intellectually curious people understand how things are done and continue to look for ways to improve the process daily.  I love being surrounded by these type people because they understand the concept of moving forward.  Processes and techniques change daily, and organizations need to be able to pivot.  Pivots and adjustments are needed quicker as we introduce more technology into the workplace.

COVID-19 allowed intellectually curious people and organizations to make the necessary adjustments to ensure services were provided.  Most of my work colleagues had never heard of Zoom prior to the pandemic.  Turns out the Zoom platform in the hands of intellectually curious organizations increased the ability to provide services and made meetings more efficient.  Staff did not lose time driving or walking to meetings anymore—they simply logged into their computers and joined the meetings via their laptops. 

I never imagined university career fairs could be done completely online.  Intellectual curiosity has allowed people in my career field to find more efficient ways to connect students and employers.  There are some organizations that have been slow to adapt to the changing world and they are rapidly being left behind.

I challenge staff to become intellectually curious daily.  This is the only way to ensure an organization has a growth mindset.  The way we did business two years ago is not coming back so organizations need the ability to adapt, grow and move forward.

I propose organizations staffed with people with intellectual curiosity will thrive—those without will slowly fade away.

How do you display intellectual curiosity?  I welcome your thoughts!

“Don’t dwell on what went wrong.  Instead, focus on what to do next.  Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding an answer”.

(Denis Waitley)

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)

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