The good folks from the Walk into the Future blog wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2021 New Year!
The challenges we endured in 2020 will lead to a stronger mentality as we get ready to have a FANTASTIC 2021!
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”.
I hope the Walk into the Future blog has sharpened you in 2020. Looking forward to another great year enjoying life to the fullest and sharing my experiences, thoughts, and adventures with you in 2021!
“Leading remotely makes the complex role of leading even more complex”.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
“Bad officials are elected by citizens who do not vote”
(George Jean Nathan)
November 3, 2020 is coming!
There is no stopping the calendar from flipping to this monumental date in our nation’s history. 11/3/2020 will be here sooner than you imagine. Not trying to scare you but this is a date you must be ready for. I will not tell you who and how to vote but vote you must.
With as much turmoil we have lived through in 2020, voting should seem like a regular activity. Not downplaying the risks involved with going to a polling location during a pandemic but voting must become a priority for all Americans. There is still time to request a mail in ballot if needed but make sure you plan to get out and vote.
58.1% of the voting-eligible population voted in 2016. You can see some citizens took the night off in November 2016 and simply did not vote.
Not here to condemn anyone but I never imagined the results from the 2016 presidential election would go the way they did. Shocked would be an understatement of how I felt the next morning when I woke up and discovered a reality PERSON (not star) was the new president. The disappointment I felt was numbing on that fateful day.
Now the pain I feel is a nation crumbling without credible leadership to help us get out of the pandemic, improve race relations, or become a world leader again. Maybe the new slogan should be: Make America a World Leader Again! That would be a fantastic start to getting this country back on a path where we are not being laughed at by other countries.
I digress a bit—forgive me!
There are 54 days left before the national election. There is still time for you to register to vote and while you are at it, please get your family and friends to register too. This would be an outstanding time to start a voting drive in your city or town. This can be done while maintaining physical distancing. We need people to get out and vote during this election cycle. Will not say who you should vote for but vote you must. Too many people have been beaten, threaten, bullied, and killed for the right to vote. This is our time to exercise our rights and vote for candidates to represent us all.
No more wishing for change in America, we must demand it. Voting provides an opportunity for your voice to be heard—do not be silenced this November. I do not want to be surprised again this cycle—thanks! 😊
Have you registered to vote yet? Who can you help with the registration process? What are you waiting on? Let’s rock the 2020 vote!
“There’s no reason to have a plan B because it distracts from plan A”.
I routinely listen to the Fox Sports 1 (FS1) daily show, The Herd with Colin Cowherd to get caught up on sports commentary and for a few laughs. Dude can be hilarious with some of his takes on sporting events, teams, and individual players. Some people do not like him because he has a dry sense of humor, but he does a good job researching topics before introducing them on his show.
He recently started discussing the concept of successful people not having a plan B which routinely led them to success. He leverages examples of athletes, business people, and sports personalities who took a risk on themselves without having an escape clause (plan B). He asks in his high pitch voice: you think Bill Gates had a plan B? What about Steve Jobs? You think I (Colin Cowherd) had a plan B before I picked up and moved from New York to Los Angeles? No, no and no!
His point being is creating a plan B allows for less than max efforts towards plan A. Never thought of this process in a similar way but believe my Walk into the Future mirrors his words in several ways.
One of my overarching goals on this walk was to never compromise my principles when it comes to work. There were times I could have gone to a plan B and took another role that did not fit where I wanted to be, but I created the Walk into the Future mindset for a reason. Some people could not understand why I would not rush back into the traditional world of work but had to stick to the plan–find things so I could make a difference in life daily.
I kept my focus on areas where I knew I could thrive, make a difference, and enjoy the process daily. Discovered additional talents I had because of the focus on plan A only. Research, writing blog articles, mentoring, and conducting speaking engagements served as my professional development incubator over the past two years.
While some people thought I was hanging out I was working on my craft to find additional ways to make a difference. No limitations were present because I was free to create what Walk into the Future meant to me. I look back at my first blog articles and can see the progression I have made over the past two years. My research and writing process have improved and continue to get better daily
I put unlimited time, effort and thoughts into this plan and refused to get distracted. I understand everyone cannot just walk away from their professional lives but being an Air Force retiree provides me with income to continue to do things like being a running tourist.
Please note I am not comparing myself to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Colin Cowherd—they all have a lot more money than me, but the no plan B mindset is similar.
Saw an opportunity in Fort Pierce, Florida and decided to go all in—no plan B. The excitement and potential for the new role was vetted without an emotional approach and launched me forward. Never looked back or sideways once committed to this new chapter. My plan A continues to work for me!
Moving forward and Walking into the Future! 😊
What is your plan A? How do you ensure your focus remains on plan A?
“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy”.
Public speaking is difficult, public speaking is scary, public speaking is not my strong skill.
I hear these and similar things daily when talking with people about public speaking. I’m sure I had similar thoughts when I started my journey standing in front of people to speak. The good thing about the fear of public speaking is all your fears can be overcome. Trust me, if I can get over the fear of standing in front of people and talking, everyone can.
My first exposure to public speaking came as part of my instructor role when I was in the Air Force. My actual job knowledge (data analyst) was needed to train the next generation of Air Force data analyst. I was forced to come out of my natural introvert shell and learn how to engage a room full of students who depended on me to help them grow professionally. No pressure, huh?
“Best way to conquer stage fright is to know what you’re talking about”.
(Michael H. Mescon)
I learned the more I practice the less nervous I am when I stand in front of groups. Decided to always err on the side of overpreparation as oppose to being underprepared for speaking engagements. I constantly review notes, transitions and potential questions I may receive during every speaking engagement.
I view anticipating questions, lulls and technical difficulties as war games. I find it easier to overcome these things by acknowledging they can pop up at any point. This additional groundwork helps me get comfortable before and during my speaking engagement. I still get nervous but know I can handle the task because of my preparation.
Researching the organization and people you’re speaking to helps you learn more about the audience so a tailored approach can be taken. This helps when incorporating examples and stories into a speech. Knowledge of the organization and audience helps generate talking points that fit so you can connect with them. I also target specific audience members based on my research. A quick LinkedIn search can provide an inside nugget I can use to connect with an audience member and seems to put others at ease because I took the time to learn more about them. This simple rapport building technique can be leveraged to help alleviate anxiety as well.
The ability to read the room is another critical component for public speakers. There will be times when you will need to adjust to match the emotions, reactions and body language of your audience. I go into every speaking engagement with a plan of action but because of practice, anticipation and knowledge of the group, I’m able to adjust on the fly (if needed).
I don’t put a lot of written content on slides to avoid limiting myself without a way to pivot if needed. I started incorporating key words and pictures into my presentations to focus attention back to me—the presenter. This always provides me with a pivot channel since I’m not tied to slide verbiage. The key words and/or pictures are used to guide me through the presentation. Practice provides the foundation to make this process work when standing in front of an audience.
Nonverbal communication can make or break your presentation. I make a point not to carry anything in my hands (pen/paper/etc.) except the audiovisual clicker. I try to put the clicker down until I need it to transition to the next slide. Carrying objects can distract your audience and I’ve seen these things distract the presenter as well.
Eye contact with audience members helps convey confidence and credibility as a subject matter expert. Speaking rate, pitch and effective use of pauses can help keep the audience members engaged and wanting to hear more from the speaker. I learned the benefits of audience engagement during my speaking roles in the Air Force and continue to add more tools to my speaking toolkit daily. Don’t be afraid to move around when speaking—this really conveys confidence but should be done with purpose. Too much moving looks like you’re trying to get away from them. 😊
These are a few things I’ve used to help eliminate speaking anxiety. Please note, I still get nervous, but I use my nerves to help fuel my public speaking. The one thing I ensure happens when speaking is to have fun. Might as well enjoy myself while I’m standing in front of a group—having fun seems to counteract anxiety and I’m able to press forward. Try it the next time you must speak in public!
FYI: Don’t forget the impact Walk up Music can have on public speaking:
Being a lifelong learner is a badge of honor I wear proudly!
I’m always looking for ways to improve myself (mentally and physically) and have a passion for reading. I realize podcasts present a popular medium for people to receive information and learn. I listen to a few, mostly sports related but still gravitate to blogs to expand my world view and learn from others.
I started the Walk into the Future blog on May 21, 2018 as a creative outlet for myself and to share my views, adventures and expertise with anyone willing to read my words.
The Walk into the Future title is my way to embrace the future and showcase the courage to move forward in life. Didn’t know who or how many people would be interested in me chronicling my adventures or sharing my views but I’m pleasantly surprised to keep growing a small following via the Word Press platform. I smile every time I receive a comment or like on my posts—lets me know people are reading my work and I’m connecting with them.
I focus blog posts on things I see, do, have interest/knowledge and topics from tree branches.
Started requesting input from tree branches because I’m walking with them daily and want to capture topics of interests to help them as well. This process keeps me energized as I research topics and learn in order to write a blog article. Please keep sending me ideas and I will work to incorporate your inputs into the blog rotation—thanks!
Note: if you haven’t seen your topic published it’s because I’m still working/researching for content—it’s coming!
My research on blogs identified the most successful bloggers maintain a consistent posting schedule. Some bloggers post multiple times a day, once a day, once or twice a week, monthly, etc. Everyone agrees the key is consistency so readers know when articles will be posted. Adjustments can be made (holidays, vacation, etc.) but it helps to set a schedule and stick to it.
I decided to post once per week on Thursdays. Believe I’ve only missed two Thursdays since I started—was having fun in Jamaica and Christmas week 2019! 😊 Thursdays give me additional editing time during the week so I can fine tune articles prior to publishing. I’ve contemplated posting multiple times per week but decided against it—hope my followers look forward to a weekly article without bombarding their inbox multiple times each week. Also, this gives me more time to research and write content without feeling pressure from a self-imposed deadline.
“Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back”.
How I blog
My goal is to always have two months’ worth of articles in my Walk into the Future vault. Most of these articles are not fully developed but provide a shell I can go back to and edit over time.
I normally post the articles in the order of creation but allow myself flexibility to move things around especially after I travel—I don’t like posting about an actual event (vacation, half marathon, etc.) months later so I move those articles up in the rotation. Soapbox moments or topics can get moved up in the rotation depending on how hot it is to me.
I write about things that pique my interest, travel locations, leadership topics and ask tree branches for things they would like to read about. I maintain a growing list of potential topics alongside the two months’ worth of written articles in my vault. I currently have 37 potential topics I still must research, vet and then develop into a published Walk into the Future article.
Thanks to everyone that provided me with topics you’re interested in.
Blog articles start with a potential topic. I then look for quotes and images to help generate inspiration for what I want to write about. The next step is to research the topic to make sure I can bring a personal approach to the article. The last step is for me to sit down and write the article. When inspired I normally write an article (draft) in one sitting and then go back to check content and edit. (FYI, this article was started on 11/5/19.) I adjust the title and make final edits the week the article gets published. Don’t know how others produce and publish content but this process works for me. 😊
Updated blog stats:
Here’s a snapshot of what has been happening behind the scene for the Walk into the Future blog:
Excited to enter my second full year as a blogger! Look forward to continuing to develop content others want to read and engage with me. This platform helps me on my journey to Walk into the Future.
Thanks for walking with me!
What is your favorite Walk into the Future blog topic so far? How has the Walk into the Future blog impacted your daily interactions? Curious!
Looking to incorporate guest bloggers in 2020! More information to follow—thinking about Guest Blogger Fridays.
“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust”.