The long journey home

Moving Forward Feb 2020

(Image by Bluehouse Skis from Pixabay.com)

“A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home”.

(Matthew 13:57)

There’s an area I’ve had trouble making speaking inroads since I’ve been on my Walk into the Future journey—my hometown.

Never thought my hometown would be the toughest place for me to engage, mentor and help others but it has proven to be a tough place to get invites.  The passage above is my reminder that I’m not the only one to struggle to get a message to people who know me—better folks have struggled with this same dynamic, so I guess I’m keeping great company!  It would have been easy to just give up and focus my energy into more productive environments but that would have been the simple way for me to proceed.

Perseverance requires additional tactics to reach life and professional goals—so I decided to persevere and keep moving forward on this pursuit.

Finally got the invite to speak during the MLK 2020 weekend at the MLK Banquet as the Keynote Speaker!  So, I went from seeking an opportunity in my hometown to having the honor of delivering an important message at the premier event of the weekend—no pressure! 😊

My goal when speaking is always to move the crowd.  People want to be entertained, laugh a bit and take something tangible away from these events.  The theme of the weekend was:  Progression not Regression.

Struggled a bit conducting research for the event since it was open to everyone in the community.  Different demographics, backgrounds, and denominations so I couldn’t go into the Keynote with a complete understanding of who would attend.  This freaked me out for a bit and then I decided to trust my process for building presentations—one slide at a time.

Looked at previous presentations and blog articles to see if I already had something to fit the theme of the weekend.  Nothing matched completely but I recently completed a blog article centered around positive energy in daily interactions.  Decided to use positive energy as the progression and negative energy as regression during my speech.

Dr. King’s 1963 I Have a Dream speech was future focused and still relevant in 2020.  Leveraged this information to continue to build the foundation of my presentation.  Didn’t get deep into Dr. King’s speech but wanted to use it to engage the audience since it was an MLK event.

Introduced the concept of self-awareness to help audience members get a more personal appreciation of progression and regression.  Didn’t launch a deep dive on self-awareness but wanted the audience to understand how everyone can control progression and/or regression in their lives.  Self-awareness helps eliminate roadblocks, generates an Irie (positive) mindset and thoughts to create positive outcomes.

Dr. King’s dream is still alive and believe everyone in attendance was able to discover how they can enhance progression in the community.  Really wanted them to walk out of my Keynote and seek ways to make a difference.  I left them with three questions to help seal the theme, Progression Not Regression:

  • What can you do?
  • Who can you serve?
  • What’s stopping you?

The audience response was tremendous during my entire time with them.  I feed off audience energy and participation—they brought their ‘A’ game and I didn’t want to disappoint since I’ve been trying to get on the hometown stage for years.  Extremely happy for the opportunity and proud of the effort to Keynote this amazing event.

Full disclosure had several aunts, cousins, childhood friends, teachers and my mom in the audience.  Nothing like your mom watching you work a room! 😊  Things happen for a reason and I enjoyed my time with the group.  Feedback has been great so far so hoping I’m going to receive requests to come back and move the crowd again.

Side note:  our high school librarian (retired) was in attendance.  I made a point to acknowledge her during my Keynote because she allowed me to spend most of my free time in the library with her during my high school years.  I was in there so much she let me check out books to other students like I was an employee.  This is where I gained a love for books and reading which eventually led to me pursuing a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology years later.  Small things lead to big results!  She said all my aggravation was well worth it, now! 😊

How do you ensure positive energy (progression) in your daily interactions?  What techniques do you use to combat potential negative energy (regression)?

How will you celebrate Black History month?  Thanks!

Thanks to the Hamilton County MLK committee for putting me on!

“Home is where one starts from”.

(T.S. Eliot)

MLK 2020

 (MLK 2020 Keynote, Jasper, FL.)

 

 

 

Walk into the Future deep dive

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“I blog because I’m not a good rapper”.

(Anonymous)

Why I blog

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!

When I blog

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”.

(Babe Ruth)

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:

Walk into the future blog stats

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”.

(Jason Calacanis)

happy-new-year-2020

Mentors provide valuable lessons for us to share

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“Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can”.

 (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

We all need someone to mentor and guide us on our journey.  I have had some great people step into my life and provide guidance needed for successful outcomes.  I reach out and thank them as much as possible because their lessons walk with me every day.

I purposefully relay those same messages to my tree branches when needed.  So, the tree started with my mentors, and my goal is to keep it growing with new branches who will grow additional branches.

Had an interesting conversation with one of my closest branches.  She mentioned she met with former students at their request and realized these students were branches from her tree.  I hope to continue to hear about additional tree branches sprouting in other areas.  How many branches have you added to the tree?

Greatest lesson learned

The greatest lesson I learned from my mentor is patience with others.  The pace of the world continues to accelerate but patient leaders provide direct reports the space to learn, make mistakes and grow.  Leaders who display patience in the work environment provide a space for reflection and active coaching when needed.  The exact lesson my mentor gifted me I call:  3 check-ins.  Sounds like a weird game for the work environment but I’ve seen it work and leverage it to this day.

So, how does 3 check-ins work?  Great question!

Example:

You assign a work project to one of your direct reports with a specific due date.  Instructions are provided but you allow the direct report freedom to get the project completed prior to the due date.  The assigned project will have 3 check-in points built in where the leader comes back to the direct report to:

  • Make sure the assignment was understood (reflection)
  • Answer outstanding questions (learn)
  • Offer support/guidance if needed (coaching)
  • Adjust goals (as needed)

The 3 check-ins are spaced out to allow for adjustments to the project if needed but keeps the direct report focused on positive outcomes.  Creating organized check points for the project shows the leader is a willing partner and seeks growth for team members.  This also eliminates the direct report from feeling like they are alone on the project.  We want them to take initiative but not feel they have no support.

The 3 check-ins approach is not designed as a fancy way to micromanage a team.  It provides a support system to enhance professional growth and ensure successful outcomes for the entire team.  Also, the approach allows the leader to serve their team and maximize individual talents.

How do you provide support when assigning projects to your team?  How can the 3 check-in approach enhance your operation?  (Please respond in the comments section below—thanks!)

“The best teachers are those who tell you where to look—but don’t tell you what to see”.

 (Alexander K. Trenfor) 

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“Play chess not checkers in the work environment.”

(Calvin Williams)

Thanks for walking with me!

Leverage individual communication styles to enhance team operations

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“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly”.

(Mark Sanborn)

There are no two teams that are exactly alike.  Not the most prophetic thing I’ve ever written in this blog space but worth stating.

Teams have different dynamics and function based on these things and the people who make up the team.  The most successful teams can leverage the talents of each team member into the overall organizational dynamic to ensure successful outcomes.

We’ve discussed team communication strategies in previous posts with an angle to strengthen your team.  Individual communication styles and preferences should be reviewed and discussed when you add someone new to your team.  I’m sure everyone strives to hire the best candidate to fill an opening on their team.  How much thought do you put into understanding how to integrate the new team member’s communication style in with others?

I’m a firm believer that leaders should know direct reports’ communication style and preferred way they want to receive information.  This knowledge allows leaders to seek ways to ensure they communicate in a way to maximize operational needs.  This knowledge has helped me when assigning tasks to team members.

Example #1:  When faced with a project that has an extremely quick turnaround time, I normally assign this project to my ENFJ (MBTI) staff member.  This type project excites the staff member and I know they will get things done quickly with enough time for review before the deadline.

Example #2:  When faced with a project due four months from today, I normally assign this project to my ISTJ (MBTI) staff member.  This type project allows the staff member time to plan, strategize and ask all the questions they need to for a successful outcome.

The examples listed above are two actual scenarios I’ve tackled in the past.  Both had successful outcomes because I knew and understood how to engage staff to maximize their talents.  This in turn produced successful outcomes for the organization.

Knowledge of individual communication styles also provides a blueprint to help build training plans to help staff members grow.  Introverted staff are not exempt from ever getting a task with a quick turnaround.  The leader needs to provide a more detailed set of instructions and understand they may have to follow-up with the staff member.  This process begins to stretch the staff member and helps their professional growth.  This also provides the leader with another staff member who can handle future quick turnaround projects and not wear out the extroverts.  Also, extroverted staff are not exempt from being assigned long term projects—training applies to all staff members.

There are multiple ways to engage staff to understand their individual communication style.  MBTI and CliftonStrengths are two tools used in my work environments.  These tools allowed me to get a better understanding of everyone on my team and integrate this knowledge to help teammates understand each other as well.

What’s the most successful way for me to understand how to communicate with my team?  I sit down with them and ask everyone how they like to receive information.  Simple, huh?  Then I make sure to communicate with everyone in a manner they identify (as much as possible).  Things pop up but I try to remain consistent with the communication process.  Direct reports seem to appreciate this fact and respond in a positive manner.

A final note, leaders need to ensure their team knows how they like to communicate as well.  The team shouldn’t have to guess how to approach a leader.  This creates undo stress and is not productive.

How do you account for individual communication styles in the work environment?  Can this knowledge impact your current organization?  (Please respond in the comments section below—thanks!)

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

(Plato)

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Superhero work is tough but worth every minute!

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“There is a superhero in all of us, we just need the courage to put on the cape”.

(Superman)

Who knew saving the world would be so tough?  Note:  I’m enjoying every minute of it!

My current Walk into the Future allows me maximum flexibility on projects I decide to tackle.  Leveraging my why daily provides a foundation to ensure I’m getting things done the right way.

Got a request to help a local high school student find renewed focus and create a schedule to enhance academic success.  I never ventured towards this demographic since my work with college students and experienced professionals fits my areas of interest.  I didn’t accept the request initially because I didn’t see how I could help.  My excuses were:

  • Not familiar with high school curriculum
  • Two parent home provides enough guidance
    • Why would a high school student listen to me and not parents?
  • My personal bias towards education
  • Not invested in this process

Well, once I got out of my own way and viewed this as another opportunity to help someone succeed regardless of grade level, the obvious choice was to put on my cape and shiny boots and get down to what true superheroes do—save the world! 😊

Decided to leverage the MBTI with my new tree branch and parents to determine a communication pattern in the household.  The MBTIs were extremely close, and this gave me additional information to begin our meeting.  Discussed the implications of the MBTI results and how we could leverage this information to create an action plan for success.

Next, we discussed ways to bring a more organized approach to studying and getting assignments completed.  I thought this would have been an area that would create a level of resistance but was pleasantly surprised with the overall buy-in.  I didn’t create the organizational approach but suggested some things I thought would work; consistent study times, area, length and scheduled breaks.  I let the family discuss and recorded highlights so we could follow-up; wanted to ensure the family took responsibility for the learning outcomes with me serving as their resident superhero (guide).

We were able to create a study schedule with predetermined breaks and a stated commitment from everyone to abide by this schedule.  Adjustments can be made as needed, but we need a consistent team effort to make this work for everyone.  Again, they agreed to the parameters and we moved forward as a unified group.

The commitment was further verified when they ask me when they should follow-up with me for a progress report.  I wasn’t going to push this aspect but believe this shows a new level of progress and willingness to put the work in for success. We agreed to have follow-up sessions in two-week increments based on assignment due dates.  The follow-up sessions allow us to adjust as needed or provide an opportunity to praise progress.

“Life doesn’t give us purpose.  We give life purpose”.

(The Flash)

Happy to report this process allowed me to stay true to my why:  to impact people in a positive way to leave them better than when I found them.

Doesn’t really matter if it’s a high school student, experienced professional or a random person on the street.  Superheroes save the world regardless of how hard it may seem.

spider man on top of building
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“You don’t need to be strong like a superhero, you just need to be better than yesterday”.

(Spiderman)

Okay, enough superhero talk—need to take this cape off and my boots are hurting me feet!  Tomorrow’s another day! 😊

Who can you be a superhero to today?  What would stop you from helping?

 “Wakanda Forever.”

(Black Panther) 

Don’t fear the unknown–life moves forward

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“On the other side of your maximum fear are all the best things in life”.

(Will Smith)

How many times have you talked yourself out of doing something based on perceived fears?  I’m talking about larger life episodes like changing careers, starting your own business, learning a new skill or traveling to an exotic locale.

Sometimes we fear the unknown simply because it is unknown.  Nothing has happened to instill the fear we live with; we just bring it along into our daily routines.  Don’t let that little voice in your head talk you out of pursuing something you want to accomplish.  Positive thoughts generate positive outcomes!  Tackle life with an Irie mindset!

Look for ways to embrace your fear and understand the root cause.  Challenges provide opportunities to grow so don’t let a little apprehension stop you from making a move.  Try to place a marker or name on what you fear.  Is it the actual change, lack of confidence, professional requirements or something else?  Understanding the root cause of fear provides a road map to help overcome the thing you fear—sounds simple, right?

Look for ways to visualize the successful outcome you seek.  Leverage a vision mapping process to walk you through the entire process.  Start with the most basic concepts and then work to put everything into a step-by-step diagram as a road map for success.  Your vision map may show holes in your thought and execution patterns you can counter to help eliminate fear and enable success.  The vision map also allows you to put time frames in-place to accomplish the task you identify.

Positive people make positive things happen!  I continue to stress having an Irie mindset.  Believe this is vital daily in life.  Expect great things to happen and back up the expectations with proactive research, conversations and efforts needed to get what you want.  Positive thoughts will help build up resiliency so when faced with obstacles you go to the next option but never stop trying to get what you want.

Be prepared to pivot as needed.  There are times a fundamental change in approach is needed to get what you want.  This is not a failure but a proactive way to work towards outcomes to enhance your current situation.  Do you need to get a specific certification prior to starting a career change?  Do you need to have a business partner to make your small business idea successful?  The willingness to pivot when needed can eliminate a level of fear associated with similar changes.

“Staying positive does not mean that things will turn out okay. Rather it is knowing that you will be okay no matter how things turn out”.

(Unknown)

Accept fear as a natural motivator in life.  Sounds counterproductive but what if you tackle a small fear daily to build up confidence for the larger things in life?  Fear public speaking? Then join Toast Masters to get in front of people to learn how to overcome this fear.  I’m a natural introvert so speaking in front of people was a fear I had.  Discovered the more I speak in front of groups the less fear I have.  The process becomes easier the more I face the fear.

Mentors can help you when facing your fears.  We should all have multiple mentors to help get through personal and professional scenarios.  Why not enlist a mentor when you must face a fear?  This trusted advisor may have experience in the area and can provide insight to help you move forward.  The mentor can also serve as a sounding board for you to present your thoughts.  This simple concept may allow you to hear what’s holding you back.  Your mentor will be able to provide feedback based on thoughts you present as well.

Fears are natural to most of us.  Visualize success, leverage positive thoughts, pivot if needed, accept fear to defeat it and engage your mentors.  Simple, huh? 😊

Remember, everything Irie!

What tools do you leverage to overcome fear?  What have you thought about doing but let fear hold you back?  (Respond in the comments section—thanks!)

 

 

“Named must your fear be before banish it you can”.

(Yoda)

Strong tree branches keep me moving forward

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“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together”.

(African Proverb)

My collective tree branches continue to amaze me daily!

I enjoy watching the great things they are doing in their respective areas of higher education, mentoring, volunteering, speaking, podcasting, recruiting, leadership development and fitness to name a ‘few’ areas these outstanding folks are making a difference.

The one area that stands out to me today as I write this is the teamwork they constantly display.  My Walk into the Future has led me away from a physical office space—as noted, I primarily work out of coffee shops with Lucky Goat being first choice.  My previous work life allowed me to be surrounded by direct reports and colleagues every day.  There was always someone available to me whenever I had a question, concern or marketing idea I needed to hash out.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”.

(Henry Ford)

My current walk provides me unlimited freedoms to decide what I work on and when.  The one limiting factor is I don’t have ‘my’ team right down the hallway to bounce things off.

A great aspect of having so many tree branches is they are only a text message, email or phone call away when I need help.  Today was a perfect example of how great my tree branches are.  Needed some help generating a Presentation Value Proposition for a conference proposal I was working on.

I had no trouble describing my proposed presentation, highlighting learning outcomes and generating an overall summary.  Couldn’t generate the Value Proposition for the presentation for some odd reason—just couldn’t make it pop or even sound interesting.

Reached out to two of my most creative tree branches and described my dilemma.  Provided them with what I needed to do and my attempt to generate the Value Proposition.  They both jumped into teammate mode and sent me back appealing options for the Value Proposition that made the presentation sound exciting.  The point being is even without us being in the same cities, my team still has my back and we make each other better daily.

The ability to stress the importance of teamwork is something I’m proud to bring to every organization I’ve worked with.  It’s great to see my tree branches continue to embrace team concepts and help others grow.  Well done tree branches—keep up the great things you do daily!  Very proud of your efforts!

Thanks to my tree branches who return my texts, emails, phone calls and LinkedIn shout outs!  You’re fueling this journey one step at a time—Irie!

What are the most important team concepts you display daily?  How can you enhance the team experience in your work environment?  Thanks!

Respect Melissa and V’Rhaniku!

ER 2016

(2016 team bowling outing)

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else”.

(Booker T. Washington)