Success in Black and White podcast

Success

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“A podcast is a great way to develop relationships with hard-to-reach people”.

(Tim Paige)

The Walk into the Future blog has provided me with multiple opportunities to share my words, thoughts, and experiences with others. 

I started this journey in 2018 with an idea of the direction I wanted to go but had no idea the process would be so much fun for me.  The ability to be creative and explore adventures are two key elements that allow me to continue to produce content for the blog.  I love the comments, texts, and emails I receive when something I write speaks to others—I guess you can say I am finding my voice as I develop content.

One area that puts a huge smile on my face is when one of my tree branches reaches out and want to produce content with me.  My smile gets even bigger when the request comes from TWO tree branches! 😊

My tree branches, Darryl and April Lovett have a successful platform:  Success in Black and White. 

Proud of these two as they tackle issues others may shy away from, but they have fun as they do it.  Love the fact they move forward as a POWER couple; their energy is contagious and makes you want to get up and make a difference in the world.

They asked me to join them for a podcast episode and I immediately said yes.  Saw this as a perfect way to catch up with them and share a little bit of Walk into the Future with their growing audience.  Please note, recording the episode was more fun than I ever imagined—well done Darryl and April!

We were able to catch up during the podcast and cover a lot of content in the one-hour timeframe.  They asked great questions and were not afraid to follow-up for clarity.  The question that really got me energized was:  What is your calling and why are you passionate about it?

I have been asked this question in multiple ways but really enjoy the opportunity to continue to share my WHY.  My why is to leave everyone better than when I met them.  It took me a few years to put this down into a simple statement, but it has been with me for some time now.

I was able to dive a bit deeper while speaking with Darryl and April during the podcast.  My desire to help others started for me in high school.  I had a Guidance Counselor who did not even try to help me plan my life after high school.  I had several friends who got excellent advice from this same counselor, but she only told me to join the military.  We never discussed how to apply to colleges, how to apply for financial aid or anything about further education and the doors it would open.  Fast forward and I hold three degrees without ever having a student loan—so maybe it was a good thing my high school guidance counselor did not help me with the process. 😊

My why is driven by the lack of support I received from my guidance counselor.  I provide mentorship to everyone that crosses my path because I do not want them to have to struggle because I would not take the time to help them.  I wanted to make sure Darryl, April and their audience understood how important this is for me.  The passion I display when working with my tree branches and potential branches is because I want to help them grow.  Sounds cliché but it is something I live every day.

A funny but true aspect of how I developed my why is I do not remember the name of my high school guidance counselor.  Imagine, this lady fueled my passion with her lack of attention to my future and I do not remember her name, but she has allowed me to touch so many lives in a positive way.  Good things come out of bad situations.  Please note, I would not change a thing—I seem to be doing okay with this Walk into the Future journey. 

Discovered during the podcast episode April also considers herself a running tourist!  We got a chance to discuss why I run and the positive impacts it has on my daily journey.  Hoping we can all get back to running, exploring, and traveling soon—there are still races out there to run.

So, I repeat the question Darryl and April asked me:

What is your calling and why are you passionate about it?

Thank you, Darryl and April for allowing me to come on your podcast!  It was fun! 😊 Irie!

“Podcasting is great.  Total freedom”.

(Bill Burr)

Poetic Friday

Dream Weaver

Be careful what you dream

Because sometimes dreams do come true

So, what’s the problem you may ask?

The dream you dream may in fact not be for you

Life provides opportunities for you to reach your goals

The key to this process is to know the correct path to follow

Look beyond tomorrow

Search for the things you need

Use this knowledge and your dreams to succeed

Resiliency and the Chimney Tops Trail

Chimney Top

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo—far more flexible than you would ever imagine.”

(Jodi Picoult)

Resilience is a measure of how much you want something and how much you are willing, and able, to overcome obstacles to get it. It has to do with your emotional strength. (Dictionary.com)

“You are only 4 minutes away from the top”.

(Smoky Mountain hiker, November 2020)

Thought I had a good handle on what resiliency really means but discovered I needed to redefine how it is shown.  I viewed resiliency from the spectrum of work or emotional intelligence but my recent hike on the Chimney Tops Trail in the Smoky mountains gave me a new appreciation of resiliency.

The hiker from the quote above provided me with inspiration to keep going but I had to decide mentally and physically to keep going up the mountain.  The trail was listed as a moderate hike, but I added a new level of difficulty by tackling Chimney Tops after 3 other hikes on the same day.  A better plan would have been to save this hike for the next day, but I wanted to experience as much as possible in a short period of time.

I left my hotel with the intent to make four hikes and that concept drove me to keep going up the mountain.  I would have felt I was letting myself down if I did not stick with the plan.  Also, wanted to test myself to determine how much I could accomplish in one day.  My thought process was to make it up the mountain and then celebrate at the top.

I took more breaks on this hike than ever before and was slow on the ascent.  My legs felt like I had run a half marathon at this point—in fact, my total hiking mileage for the day was 15.4 miles.  Not a bad day walking in the Smoky mountains.

I view my ability to keep pressing onward as a sign of resiliency.  I could have tapped out and nobody would have known I gave up on my last hike if I did not bring it up.  I could have taken the failure to make it to the top of my last hike to the grave, but I am sure it would have bothered me knowing I gave up.  Trust me, I understand my making it to the top of the Chimney Top trail does not make the world a better place, but I needed to make it up there.

I take pride being an active mentor for my tree branches and encourage them to work towards their goals.  Quitting on the Chimney Top trail would make my words ring hollow if I did not practice what I preach to my tree branches.  The resiliency to make my last hike successful became a metaphor for Walking into the Future.  This journey has been successful because I have been able to overcome obstacles and continue to move forward in life.  Seems simple but I take a lot of pride in making goals and then crossing them off my list.  This process works for me so I will continue to make it a priority. 

Proud of the resiliency I showed while climbing the Chimney Top trail.  I will admit I need to space my hikes out better in 2021 but I will not stop until I complete them all! 😊

How do you display resiliency in your daily life?  What impact does resiliency have on how you get things done?  I welcome your thoughts!

“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”.

(Nelson Mandela)

Poetic Friday

(Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)

The storm

Round and round it goes

Sometimes fast, sometimes slow

There are days it feels like a merry-go-round

Others, things are more controlled

The depth changes at times like the wind

A howling force that seeks attention

Then the calm, as the eye of the storm hovers overhead

No attention seeking, just the process of moving forward

What has this level of depth and speed?

It is simple, the life you lead

Racing (again) into the future

Race Time

“Running is alone time that let’s my brain unspool the tangles that build up over days”.

(Rob Haneisen)

I entered 2020 with an aggressive goal to expand my running tourist role and travel to new locations for Rock N Roll Half marathon races.  Started the year with a goal to run seven half marathons in the series along with a few local 5k and 10k races for speed work.

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down and we are still trying to get a handle on what normal daily actions look like now.  FYI—I understand there are more important things in the world than me traveling America and running on city streets.

My last official race was a 5k on March 14, 2020 in Tallahassee.  We were just getting a better understanding of how bad COVID-19 was at the time, but the event organizers took extra precautions but did not cancel the race. I remember the event was small with maybe 70 runners at the start line.  We practiced physical distancing at the start line and gave everyone extra space just to be safe.  There were no face masks present because the U.S. government told us there was nothing to worry about at that time.  Now we know different, huh?

Fast forward to October 24, 2020 and I was back at a 5k starting line, but we all had on face masks.  Physical distancing and masks were mandated to participate in this event.  We could take the masks off once we began to run and had to put them back on once the race was over.  Happy to report everyone complied and I felt safe while waiting my turn to start the race.  The race organizers used a digital chip timer, so our times were synced based on our on-course performance instead of when we started.  Example:  I was the 60th runner to start but this did not impact where I placed because my time was synced directly to my performance not when I started. 

I was extremely happy to be back on a race course with other people around.  I love my training runs because I view running as my form of therapy but cannot make myself run fast without others around.  It may be a mental block or simply a lack of motivation, but I run faster when other people are around.  Think I just need to see people ahead of me to force myself to try to catch them.

I was able to slowly reel in runners during my 5k event.  I wanted to post a good time but did not want to go out too fast and die a slow death on the backend of the race. 

My first mile was a controlled 8:28 pace and I felt good with the pace.  The second mile was a bit slower at 9:35 but still controlled considering I did no speed work or 5k training prior to showing up.  Decided to maintain a level of control for the third mile and recorded 9:23 and felt comfortable at this pace.  Finished with a little kick to see if I had anything left in the tank—crossed the finish line at 28:38 which is a minute slower than my race in March.  To put that in context I was in full half marathon training mode in March so to run this fast without proper training is a good sign for me.  May not be a good sign for my friends who run since we all know I can go faster.  No pressure! 😊

I am happy with my performance and the ability to maintain my speed throughout the race.  I went ahead and signed up for the OUC Half Marathon in Orlando on December 5, 2020.  My original goal was to run in San Antonio in December, but COVID-19 has made an adjustment to my race schedule.  The OUC race will have a staggered start and require face masks before and after the race.  I feel comfortable with this process since I just completed a 5k with the same parameters.  Looks like this is the new normal if we are going to see races again.  It was not hard to practice physical distancing prior to racing so I will look for additional races to get my competitive fix again.  Look forward to running in downtown Orlando again in December.  Hope to catch up with friends while in town and enjoy being back in a great city.

So, I am racing again and enjoying every moment!  Will not take racing for granted in this COVID-19 world.

What have you been able to do again safely in this COVID-19 world?  What are you looking forward to? 

Thanks!

Total miles in 2020:  982.77! 😊

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they have a second”.

(William James)

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

(Image by Satheesh Sankaran from Pixabay)

2020 has been a tough year for us all!

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”.

(Proverbs 27:17)

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!

Thanks for walking with me!  Irie!

Merry Christmas!

Calvin

Poetic Fridays

Step by Step

Steps in this journey

Mark the places I have been

Each one leads to the next goal

And brings into focus the dreams that I dream

Without these steps that I take

The reality of life will have to wait

Why put off what needs to be done

Take the next step in the journey

The life you want has only just begun

The man in the mirror

(Image by athree23 from Pixabay

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

(John Dewey)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 “To realize the self is to be still”.

(Ramana Maharshi)

Leading from a distance

(Image by FelixMittermeier from Pixabay

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

(Kevin Eikenberry)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teambuilding

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

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

Work schedules

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

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

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

Mental well-being

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

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

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

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

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

(Plato)

Walking with no new races in sight

(Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

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

(Anonymous)

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

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

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

Races lost so far

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

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

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

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

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

Virtual options

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

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

https://www.runrocknrollvr.com/

Training

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Patrick Ness)

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