Spring break unwind

Spring break

(Image by Thank you for your support Donations welcome to support from Pixabay)

“Go where the wifi is weak and the sun is strong”.

(Unknown)

Spring break 2021 has been circled on my calendar for awhile.  I did not have visions of a Jamaica getaway as I have in past years.  COVID-19 has adjusted the things we look forward to now.  I am hoping with the multiple vaccines available we will be able to get back to travel again soon.  I routinely scheduled my Jamaica trip around spring break but will continue to display patience as I wait my turn to get the vaccine.

Happy to report my mom, aunts, uncles and multiple friends are fully vaccinated!

I decided not to overbook myself for spring break and just unwind a bit.  My 2020 was overshadowed by COVID-19 and my move from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce.  Relocating during the height of a pandemic proved a bit harder than I ever imagined.  The physical process was simple to pull off—the mental and emotional aspects of adjusting to a new location, new work environment and new people while staying safe in a pandemic was challenging.  Proud of my efforts so far and look forward to continued growth with this process.

Spring break was my chance to reset a bit, kick back and enjoy life. 

Decided to head north and spend most of my break in my home town, Jasper, Florida.  I did not load my schedule so I took my time as I drove north.  Made my way to the Daytona Beach Outlets for some shopping on my drive.  The Daytona outlets are fairly new and I am always looking for some good deals.  I visited this same outlet back in November on my drive to the Smokey Mountains.  I did not find any deals I liked in the Nike or Van Heusen stores so I got back on the road.

Made my way to Jasper before sunset and caught up with my mom for my first day of spring break.  She is a traditional southern mom so yes, I had a large dinner waiting for me when I got home. 😊

I normally pressure wash my mom’s house yearly and decided to tackle the project while I was in town on break.  The weather in North Florida during March is very nice—no heat or humidity.  Pulled my pressure washer out of the shed and began the process of knocking a year’s worth of grime off the house.  My pressure washer began coughing halfway through the house cleaning process—thought it was just a spark plug issue so changed it and I was back in business—for awhile.  I have had this pressure washer for some time and it just would not go any longer.  Jasper is a small town and there is not a local small engine shop available to help with this issue.  Almost called it quits but wanted to finish this project since I started.  Made my way to Lowe’s in Live Oak to see what they had available.  Ended up purchasing a new pressure washer with 2800 PSI (pounds per square inch) which gave me additional power—equals less time pressure washing.

Got the new washer setup and cranked out the rest of the house cleaning.  The only drag when pressure washing my mom’s house is the two story aspect.  Yes, I have to get up and down a ladder to reach the portion of the house directly above her porch.  This happens to be the most visible part of the house and I cannot neglect it and still claim I cleaned the house.  Going up and down the ladder with a pressure washing wand in my hand was fun a few years ago.  Now, it feels like work but I got it done.

I decided to get away from my manual labor the following day.  Made a point to visit with friends and go see my favortie aunt in Live Oak.  I have not been able to visit with her in a long time due to COVID-19 but felt comfortable sitting with her for a bit since she is fully vaccinated.  We were able to catch up and share a few laughs again—felt good! 😊

My last spring break project was to pressure wash my grandmother’s house.  I normally have both houses scheduled to pressure wash during the same visit so kept the tradition alive.  The second house is not as large as my mom’s so it does not take me as long to complete.  This was a great aspect this year since severe weather was expected later in the day.  I was able to get the house washed and avoid getting caught in the rain that made it to Jasper in the afternoon.

I am happy to report I was able to complete a few projects while in Jasper, see family and sleep in daily on my spring break.  The time away from career related activities was needed considering the COVID-19 world we live in.  It was nice to disconnect from my work email and computer—not thinking about substantial activities was refreshing.

I know this does not sound like a typical spring break but it was exactly what I needed. Now it is time to find a beach and work on my tan! 😊

Irie!

What activities help you to unwind?  What are you looking forward to doing again?

“If traveling was free, you would never see me again”.

(Unknown)

The desire to go home

Home

“Home is the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in”.

(Robert Frost)

COVID-19 has turned a lot of life little pleasures into a HUGE deal.  Things we took for granted in 2019 quickly morphed into things we were advised not to do in 2020 and beyond.

The concept of going home on the surface is a rather benign thing.  The pandemic has made this a potential life and death decision—never thought I would say that, but it is true.

My Walk into the Future revolves around my adventures and travel to places I want to visit.  The one place I do not get to visit as much as I would like is home—Jasper, Florida.  I am not getting all nostalgic because I cannot visit my hometown.  My desire to go home centers around visiting with my mom and family.  I am sure there are other folks who make the decision to visit family or not based on a fear of COVID-19. 

The fear of being a possible transmitter of the virus is real and I do not want to be the person that brings the virus home. 

My hope is the vaccine process will allow everyone to get back to the things they love doing.  Happy to report my mom completed the two shot COVID-19 vaccine series along with an uncle, multiple aunts, and family friends.  Completing these shots gave everyone a sense of relief and a tangible sign things are getting better.  Fully understand there is more work to do with the vaccine, but this is a level of progress.

Got a chance to go home this weekend to visit with my folks.  There was nothing special happening this weekend, but it was an opportunity to visit family, relax and get some good food.  This was my first 2021 visit and it was great getting back to see the crew.  Most visits I have a long project to-do list, but my mom gave me a break this trip with no projects requested.  My brother laughed when he found out I had some free time without my normal project load.  I am sure there will be projects on my next visit but enjoyed not having to pull out a ladder, drill, or hammer to get things done around the house.

I will pull out my pressure washer on my next trip to get my annual house washing done.  I have pressured washed my mom and grandmother’s houses for the past 15 years.  It is time for that project to get completed—like to do this before the Florida heat and humidity return.  Takes me a full day with both houses but I enjoy this project because I get to see immediate results when I am done.

These things may not be huge to others but being able to work on projects, see my family and relax in my hometown are the things I love about going home.  COVID-19 has taken a lot of things away from us, but it has not taken the concept of HOME away from us.  We must remain smart and safe to keep everyone moving forward during this phase of the pandemic.

What do you miss about home?  When do you think you will be able to return?

Home by Daughtry:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bnX-6sJZBw

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition”.

(James Baldwin)

Knowledge is power–Ms. Evers boys

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(Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity”.

(Dalai Lama)

The Walk into the Future blog was able to expand to tackle racial injustice in 2020.  The COVID-19 pandemic has adjusted how we interact with others but 2020 provided additional opportunities for the world to view social justice from a new lens.

The younger generation calls this new view as being WOKE.  Merriam Webster.com identifies woke is increasingly used as a byword for social awareness.

The multiple instances of injustice we witnessed in 2020 AND past events provided the Walk into the Future blog with a new level of being woke—this platform has become a place for me to express frustrations, outrage, and fear.  It has also allowed me to learn about past injustices and how they impacted the lives of others who had to live through the experiences.

2020 provided an awakening to the continued injustices for folks like George Floyd, Breana Taylor, Ahmaud Abery and Jacob Blake.  Some if these injustices were recorded and we got a chance to see what really happened not what authorities wanted to hide from the public as they normally do. 

2020 also provided me with a level of curiosity to research past injustices to educate myself and readers about things most Americans had never heard about:  Black 14, Black Wall Street, Rosewood, Florida, and Why Black Lives Matter.  I was able to learn about each of these topics and generate a blog article to share what I discovered.  A lot of my blog followers had never heard of these and want to learn more—this allows me to keep looking for topics to help ensure these injustices are never forgotten and I am hopeful they will not be repeated.

Ms. Evers boys

Why are some minorities fearful of getting vaccines?

Seems like a simple question but the answer will surprise a lot of people who have never heard about the Tuskegee Study which ran from 1932 – 1972 before the unethical treatment of black men in Macon County, Alabama was ended.  The study (lab experiment) was conducted on 600 black men in the rural county, and they were told they had bad blood which was used to trick them into participating in the study. 

The study was designed to observe what happens with untreated syphilis in the body of black men. Let’s repeat that, the study was designed to see the impact of syphilis on black men who were never told what they had or if they were receiving an actual treatment to cure the disease (they were not).  The government used these men as lab subjects to see how the disease would ravage the human body.  No truth, no treatment, no compassion, and no concern for these men by the U.S. government.  Sounds just like what we witnessed in 2020, huh?

My first knowledge of this American experiment on black men was when the 1997 movie, Ms. Evers Boys was released.  This movie depicts the experiences of the black nurse who was brought in to help convince the men to continue to come in for treatment.  The term bad blood was suggested by Eunice Evers and was used to highlight the need for the men to come in to be treated.  The process continued even when it was discovered in 1947 that penicillin was an effective treatment for syphilis.  The government officials running the Tuskegee Study were not interested in curing the men but watching how the disease impacted the body of black men.

The Tuskegee Study experiment on black men was ended in 1972 when news articles were published detailing what the government was doing down in Alabama. 

A $10 million dollar settlement was reached in 1974 for the survivors and families of deceased study participants.  Imagine the physical and mental damage done to these people by the governmental study?

This is one study we know about. 

How many others has the American government conducted? 

Do you understand why some people are afraid of the American government vaccine programs? 

“Distrust and caution are the parents of security”.

(Benjamin Franklin)

Learn more here:

Black History is 365!

(Image by Greg Montani from Pixabay)

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life”.

(Muhammad Ali)

Another Black History month has come and gone. 

What did you do to commemorate the great things you learned during past Black History months?  How did your community or work organization celebrate the one month out of the year set aside to highlight Black History?

Yes, I am happy we get a month to showcase the great things black people have done and celebrate things we are currently doing.  This year just seems a bit subdued—it could be because of COVID-19 but it seems the month flew by and not much was celebrated.  I saw a few spots on TV discussing Black History month and the importance of remembering the past but nothing really jumped out at me as a highlight.  I hope the country did not go into a shell because of the insurrection that occurred on January 6, 2021.  Just a thought!

My Black History month moment came as a complete surprise to me.  I saw an Instagram story from my niece Jayla that read:  So sad, none of this is taught in school.

Look at the list below and tell me how many of these things you knew were invented by a black person:

Product

Inventor

Date

Air Conditioning Unit

Frederick M. Jones

1949

Almanac

Benjamin Banneker

1791

Auto Cut off switch

Granville T. Woods

1839

Auto Fishing Device

George Cook

1899

Baby Buggy

William H. Richardson

1889

Biscuit Cutter

Alexander P. Ashbourne

1875

Blood Plasma Bag

Charles Drew

1945

Clothes Dryer

George T. Sampson

1971

Curtain Rod Support

William S. Grant

1896

Door Knob

Osbourn Dorsey

1878

Door Stop

Osbourn Dorsey

1878

Elevator

Alexander Miles

1867

Fire Escape Ladder

Joseph W. Winters

1878

Fire Extinguisher

Thomas Marshall

1872

Folding Chair

Nathaniel Alexander

1911

Gas Mask

Garrett Morgan

1914

Golf Tee

George T. Grant

1899

Ice Cream Scoop

Alfred L. Cralle

1897

Ironing Board

Sarah Boone

1887

Lantern

Michael C. Harvey

1884

Mail Box

Paul L. Downing

1891

Peanut Butter

George W. Carver

1896

Pencil Sharpener

John L. Love

1897

Spark Plug

Edmond Berger

1839

Stethoscope

Thomas A. Carrington

1876

Straightening Comb

Madam C. J. Walker

1905

Street Sweeper

Charles B. Brooks

1890

Thermostat Control

Frederick M. Jones

1960

Traffic Light

Garrett Morgan

1923

Tricycle

Matthew A. Cherry

1886

I pride myself in knowing history but could only match three inventions to inventors:

  • Traffic light (Garret Morgan)
  • Straightening comb (Madame C. J. Walker)
  • Peanut butter (George Washington Carver)

Everything else on this list was brand new to me.  How can this be?  We are taught a modified version of history in school.  It is completely one sided and it appears we are supposed to learn as much as possible in February so we can get back to the regularly scheduled history program.  Imagine growing up in a country that shares tidbits of your history—how would you feel when you finally discover great things were being kept from you?

I waited for February to end before diving into Black History to extend the conversation.  Yes, I am happy to have a month dedicated to my history but as you can see from the list above, we need more time.  How can someone invent the elevator in 1867 and we have no knowledge of this fact?  I apologize, maybe it is just me with no knowledge of this fact, but my point is this was a MAJOR invention, but we do not pay homage to Alexander Miles.  Truth be told, I never heard his name before.  How is that possible?  Thanks to Sarah Boone I can iron my clothes daily, so I have a pressed look at work.  Imagine how we would look if she did not invent the ironing board?  How would the mailman deliver your mail without Paul L. Downing?  I am sure most people in the world still use some version of the mailbox.

So, Black History Month is over, but your lessons do not have to stop.  I encourage you to continue to seek out Black History and share with others.  We all have a lot to learn—let’s get to it! 😊

What did you learn during Black History month?  How do you plan to keep the conversation going?  Thanks!

“If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go”.(James Baldwin)

Walking into 2021!

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“Celebrate endings—for they proceed new beginnings”.

(Jonathan Lockwood Huie)

Happy New Year from the Walk into the Future blog!

Grateful to continue to write blog articles to express my thoughts and document life adventures.  This blog started as a way for me to share with my friends and has evolved into a space for me to highlight a bit of creativity.  This blog also provides a place to advocate for social change in the world—did not have this in mind when I launched the blog but there is no turning back now.  My walk continues to expand so I am excited to see what new angles I can tackle in 2021.

2021 promises to bring new opportunities for us all.  2020 was a monster on multiple levels but there were opportunities for growth as well.

Happy to report I was able to meet all my 2020 goals except the number of half marathons I ran.  Of course, COVID-19 was the reason the race season did not happen, so I am not upset I did not meet this goal.

I am in the process of generating my 2021 goals and look forward to working towards them daily. 

My reading program increased in 2020 and I enjoyed exploring new topics and authors.  I see this as an area I can expand in 2021.  I fancy myself as a lifelong learner and reading keeps me engaged in learning new things and hopefully sharing these things with my tree branches.  Please note, I am always open to your suggestions for books so send me a few—thanks!

The Rock N Roll marathon series has 6 races projected for in-person competition in 2021.  My favorite race, the Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon is scheduled for April 25, 2021.  My 2020 registration automatically rolled over so I can run in the race this year if I would like.  I am not committed to running this or any race at this point especially if it means I must get on a plane to get to the race city.  Will wait and see how the vaccination process impacts the spread of COVID-19 before deciding on this race.  Would hate to miss Nashville two years in a row but this is the world we live in. The Savannah race is scheduled for November 7, 2021 and this may be a better option—we will see.

I will look at some smaller, local races to get my competitive fix.  I am sure Track Shack in Orlando will have some races I want to run—the OUC half may be on my race calendar again this year based on location and safety measures.

I began the process of creating an Authentic Leadership eBook in 2020.  Will look to put the finishing touches on this project in 2021.  Wanted to share a few leadership principles in a different format to see if others would be interested in this project.  It has been fun working on a new outlet for my thoughts and plan to expand the authentic leadership platform in 2021.

My leadership consulting is another area I want to expand in 2021.  My work in 2019 had me positioned for a huge consulting year in 2020 but we all know the impact of COVID-19 on all industries.  Will look to create an outreach program to reengage with organizations I have worked with in the past and generate new leads.  Virtual programming and meetings became common in 2020 and see this continuing in 2021.  This can lead to new ways to reach organizations and provide a consulting rebirth for me and others.  Fingers crossed!

I am sure there will be other goals to add to my list, but these are a few I will work towards in 2021.

What goals do you have for the new year?  How successful were you meeting your 2020 goals?  Thanks!

“Every moment is a fresh beginning”.

(T.S. Elliot)

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)

Walking and enjoying Mulligans Beach House (Vero Beach)

Mulligans

“An ocean breeze puts the mind at ease”.

(Anonymous)

My Walk into the Future allows me to continue to seek out new adventures and venues.  The COVID-19 pandemic has rightfully slowed down unnecessary travel and interactions, but the beach still has wide open spaces to explore. 

My relocation to the Treasure Coast provides access to some great beaches with amazing views to take in.  Several of my work colleagues provide me with places where the locals hang out and guided me towards Mulligan’s Beach House in Vero Beach. The biggest reason they wanted me to visit Mulligan’s is because it has a huge outdoor seating area that sits right on the world-famous Vero Beach.  I have visited Vero Beach (city) multiple times for the outlet mall and other retail shopping but have not been on the beach side of the city in years.

Turns out I visited Mulligan’s Beach House back in August 2014 prior to relocating from Oviedo, Florida to Tallahassee, Florida for my job at Florida State University.  Always heard how beautiful Vero Beach was so took a road trip back in 2014 to get a feel for the area and take in the beach scene.  Mulligan’s was close to the hotel I booked back in the day, so it was an easy choice for some great food.

Fast forward to 2020 and I immediately recognized I had been there before as soon as I hit the parking lot.  Seeing the familiar outside seating area and extra-large deck chair put a smile on my face.  I instantly reflected to my 2014 visit and the great memories made during my visit back in the day.  Also highlights the concept of small world because my original visit was made because I never thought I would make it back down to visit Vero Beach.  Now I live 20 minutes from the famous beach and local attractions on the board walk.

My most recent trip to Mulligan’s Beach House was made on a Sunday afternoon.  Figured this would be a good day and timeframe to visit to avoid the potential of large crowds.  The overcast weather also contributed to a smaller crowd when I got there.  The outside seating areas provided a great place to sit on the beach, people watch and listen to some good music.  I was able to find a nice corner spot and continue to physical distance.  Did not have a taste for anything specific but wanted to explore the menu a bit.  I am not an adventurous eater so settled on chicken wings and draft beer—which was two for one during happy hour.  The wings were surprisingly good and went great with the atmosphere of Mulligan’s.  A nice, chill place where the locals eat.

Mulligan’s has indoor seating at the bar and tables—some of the locals were comfortable seating inside but I do not know when/if I will be that comfortable again.  The governor just announced restaurants and bars are no longer restricted to 50% capacity so I am sure more people will be dining and drinking inside again without proper physical distancing.  Scary thought but eliminating these restrictions will expand our time trying to combat COVID-19 in the state of Florida.  Hate to see the gains we have made with COVID-19 get sidetracked as our governor tries to help political gains for the presidential election.

Mulligan’s Beach House is a fantastic place to visit if you are in Vero Beach.  My next venture in the Vero Beach area will be the Ocean Grille which is right across the parking lot.  I have heard great things about the food there and will get back soon to see what they have to offer.

Where have you always wanted to eat but have not made it yet?  How have you adjusted your dining plans in a COVID-19 world?

http://www.mulligansbeachhouse.com/vero-beach/

 “The waves of the sea help me get back to me”.

(Anonymous)

Mulligans2

Walking and enjoying the Square Grouper (Ft. Pierce)

Square Grouper1

“It is life, I think, to watch the water.  A man can learn so many things”.

(Nicholas Sparks)

My Walk into the Future continues to look more like My Walk with COVID-19.

That would not be as catchy of a blog title so will stick with Walk into the Future! 😊  Again, the pandemic has slowed down the adventures but has not completely shut them off.  I remain careful when I venture out and take precautions to ensure I am not exposing myself to undue risks.

Most of my adventures center around the beach and shopping excursions.  These have proved to be safe and gets me out of the house for fresh air.  Will continue to find new beaches to sit on and enjoy the views on the Treasure Coast.  Still do not know why it is called the Treasure Coast, guess that will have to be a future blog article when I find out.

A favorite spot for the locals is Square Grouper.  Thought it was a clever name when I first heard it but Googled the definition to make sure I understood how the place got the name.  Turns out it is a clever hook and attracts a lot of people based on the name and meaning.  Yes, you should Google it to understand what it means. LOL.

My attraction to Square Grouper is it is close to Jetty Park and sits right on the Fort Pierce Inlet.  The location is at the mouth of the inlet before it empties into the Atlantic Ocean.  It is a great location to catch sunsets that seem to plunge directly into the inlet.  The Square Grouper is 95% an outdoor venue with two bars, a tiki hut stage, and a large outdoor seating area.  The plastic chairs are not comfortable but serve a purpose as you can move them around as needed.

Square Grouper2

The outdoor venue has been great to practice physical distancing while also enjoying some live music.  Most of the bands are local and only play for two hours—cannot say the bands have been memorable but they have been good enough to make a few people get up and dance.  There has never been a large crowd when I visited but everyone seems to enjoy the atmosphere.  I spoke with one of the bartenders and he let me know they typically got around 600 people nightly before COVID-19 impacted the world.  The crowds are a lot less than that now—the most I have seen there is around 50 people spread out around the outdoor seating areas.  A few brave folks will sit at the bar but not very many.  Face masks are still required to enter but do not know how long that will last since the governor has relaxed statewide restrictions.

A surprising aspect of visiting the Square Grouper is the food.  Typical bar staples but they use fresh ingredients and fantastic seasonings.  I have tried multiple items on the menu and have not been disappointed yet.  I have been a bit adventurous and explored menu items I would not normally get. Both bars are fully stocked but the signature drink is the Rum Runner.  Never had one prior to my visit to Square Grouper but now it is my go-to drink when I am there—try it frozen if you make it there.

Hoping the band lineup starts to improve since I enjoy live music.  Will continue to leverage the Square Grouper as part of my Walk into the Future.

https://squaregrouper.net/

What locations are on your adventure list?  What makes it a place you want to visit?  Thanks!

“On the beach, you can live in bliss”.

(Dennis Wilson)

 

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)