Making a difference–the first 100 days!

(Image by Free Photos from Pixabay)

“If you are walking down the right path and you are willing to keep walking, eventually you will make progress”.

(Barack Obama)

Love starting Walk into the Future blog articles with quotes to introduce the topic for each week.  The quotes are selected to get me into the right frame of mind to generate content my followers will enjoy.  I try not to overdue my Barack Obama quotes but he provides inspiration on multiple levels and I can always find something generated by #44 to help me find the words to make a positive impact with my writing.

I am an avid reader and discovered author Robert Hargrave’s book, Your First 100 Days in a New Executive Job:  Powerful First Steps on the Path to Greatness prior to taking my role in Fort Pierce.  Decided to leverage my first 100 days in my new role to find ways to make a positive difference in our daily operations.  The COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has on normal operations was a huge challenge to me.  I accepted my position at Indian River State College in March 2020 with hopes the pandemic would be mitigated during the summer and we would get back to what use to be normal workday activities.  The COVID-19 numbers exploded over the summer and most of the country remained in a work from home mode out of necessity.

I did not let COVID-19 limit my focus on making a difference daily.  Referred to President Obama’s quote daily and looked for ways to chip away towards the progress I sought.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  How do you make workplace progress?  One project at a time.

My first 100-day point at Indian River State College was 7/28/2020.  The Career and Transfer Services (CTS) team was not briefed on my 100-day plan but were key players to ensure we got the results I wanted us to gain.  I take a lot of pride in being able to organize and execute action plans and set about getting a lot of things completed in the first 100 days.

Vision

One of my first tasks was to create and then share a vision for the CTS team.  This process allowed me to educate the team on how we would work together to help generate wins for our operation.  Robert Hargrove advises to seek out as many wins as possible in the first 100 days—it builds positive energy.

I went on a listening tour (virtual, phone, in-person) to speak with staff, colleagues, students, and faculty to understand the best way to partner with each of them.  I learned a lot during these conversations (good and bad) and discovered who I needed to mend fences with.  It was not important when the fences broke but it was my responsibility to get things moving in a positive direction.

The team conducted a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis to identify what we did well, our weak areas, improvement opportunities and organizational threats.  This was an eye-opening experience for the team because they had never analyzed the operation at this level.  I needed a full view of our operation to make the first 100 days productive.

We created action plans to mitigate weaknesses and threats (wins) because we could not grow without addressing these two areas.  This process led to improved training, better communication, and improved team interactions.  The SWOT analysis is a living document and will extend beyond the first 100 days but is a positive step.

We leveraged multiple teambuilding activities during the first 100 days to ensure our continued growth.  We leveraged the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), created team values statements, enhanced professional development training, and got on The Energy Bus.  Each initiative built on the previous one to help us all grow as team members.

This teambuilding process allowed us to create additional wins:

  • Produced a Career Ready Infographic
  • Created and produced a Resume Guide
  • Created and produced a Resume Rubric
  • Created and produced a Mock Interview Rubric
  • Created CTS branded PowerPoint template
  • Developed a CTS workshop library
  • Developed employer specific marketing

These are a few examples of our wins in the first 100 days—excited to add a few more wins as the team continues to grow together.

We continue to walk on the right path and progress is evident daily!

How do you measure your progress?  What steps do you leverage to continue to move forward?

“Little things make a big difference”.

(Picturequotes.com)

Walking with a positive work environment

(Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

“Positive work environments outperform negative work environments”.

(Daniel Goleman)

Positive people make positive things happen is one of my favorite sayings to inspire people in my world.  I created this as a mantra when I enter a work environment to help my team understand the mindset, we need to get positive results.

I was introduced to Positive Psychology during my course work and it remains with me daily.  One premise of Positive Psychology is people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.  This could be on a personal or professional level.  I like leveraging Positive Psychology within the work environment to show direct reports how our mindset influences work outcomes.

I mentioned in an earlier post, my daily response to how I am doing is to say fantastic.  This is not a way to hide my true thoughts or feelings but a way to energize myself.  I found by saying I am doing fantastic provides a new level of energy for myself and it can inspire others around me to join in on the fun.  The word fantastic is not used very often in daily life so it makes people take notice and encourages them to get on The Energy Bus.

Now imagine if you had a leader who was always negative and never had anything nice to say.  How would this person impact the work environment?  I am sure this negative mindset would translate to everyone in the work environment and would not be a pleasant place to work. 

Leaders must be cognizant how their energy (positive or negative) impacts the work environment.  This knowledge will go a long way to build a positive work environment culture to ensure positive things get done daily.  Sounds simple, huh?

It takes a while for this positive process to take hold within a new work environment.  The speed of this process can be enhanced when everyone is ready to engage.  One negative teammate can slow or aggravate the process, but this can be mitigated by the rest of the team pulling in the same direction.  A new initiative for me is to follow Rule #6 from The Energy Bus—I have a sign posted that reads No Energy Vampires Allowed in my office in a prominent location.  I will point to the sign when the tone of a conversation starts to become negative.  I welcome different views and opinions but look to negate negative tone, language, or interactions.  It takes time to eliminate the negative, but the goal is to move forward in a positive manner.  I struggle sometimes because I want everything to head in a positive direction but also know things take time. 

A positive work environment is a place where everyone can thrive, grow, and provide input.  We spend a large amount of our lives in the work environment and I strive to create a space where we can work hard, laugh, and enjoy the process.  Leaders who understand work does not have to be stressful create a space where productivity can be displayed daily.  I have worked in places where people dreaded coming to work and I made a vow to never duplicate these types of environments when I reached the big seat.  Well, I have been in the big seat for a while now and smile whenever one of my tree branches reach out and say they want to work with me again.

I am sure not everyone feels this way, but I have enough of these folks to form my own wolf pack.  😊 Still learning and growing but will continue to promote positive work environments because they are productive and fun.  Imagine that, fun in the workplace!  Guess Google, Microsoft and Apple understand what people want in the work environment.  I do not have ping pong tables, yet, but play a lot of reggae in my office.  Irie!

What do you see as the benefits of a positive work environment?  How do you contribute to ensure your work environment remains positive?

 “Positive anything is better than negative nothing”.

(Elbert Hubbard)

The Energy Bus—team building program!

(Image by Marek Studzinski from Pixabay)

“Thoughts are magnetic. What you think you attract”.

(John Gordon)

Dictionary.com defines teambuilding as the action or process of causing a group of people to work together effectively as a team, especially by means of activities and events designed to increase motivation and promote cooperation.

I have always been a fan of conducting teambuilding activities throughout the years to keep teams focused and pulling in the same direction.  I have been fortunate to create teambuilding platforms at UCF and FSU to enhance our team dynamics and set us up to accomplish our work goals.  Teambuilding is a critical component to organizational success and is necessary to remind each team member how interconnected we are daily.

I have leveraged the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) at every stop I have made since I left the Air Force.  I find the MBTI an excellent way to understand team members’ communication style and allows us to adjust to how individuals prefer to communicate internally and externally.

My MBTI is ISTJ (Introverted/Sensing/Thinking/Judging) and is displayed on my desk to remind my team of my preferred communication style. Each team member gets a desk placard highlighting their MBTI to help them communicate with others and serves as a reminder we all have different preferences and work styles.  One is not better than the other, simply different.

I was introduced to Clifton Strengths while at UCF.  I was charged with building a teambuilding program for Career Center staff and Clifton Strengths provided us with a platform to build on the strengths of everyone on the team.  We reached out and hired a certified consultant to come in and work with us to learn how to maximize team strengths so we could grow the organization.  This was an eye-opening teambuilding experience for the group and has remained an integral tool for me when working to build my respective team dynamics.

Ice breaker activities are another great way to bring teams together and enhance socialization.  The ice breakers used do not have to be elaborate but should have an element of fun while the team learns more about each other.  The platform should enhance communication and help the team find ways to discover new things about teammates.

My latest teambuilding adventure was introduced to me by one of my new team members.  She found out I am a huge reader and shared a leadership book from her library with me.  I had never heard of the book but was intrigued by the concept after she explained the premise of the book.  The full title, The Energy Bus:  10 Rules to Fuel your Life, Work and Team is an international best seller and the author, Jon Gordon is sought by organizations to share his Energy Bus knowledge and help people continue to grow.  I watched several of his talks on YouTube to get a better understanding of his concept to determine if this was something I could utilize.  He has a ton of stuff on YouTube so recommend taking some time to explore his work to see how it can help you and your team move forward.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jon+gordon++

The book is an extremely easy read and reminds me of the classic, Who Moved My Cheese but in an actual work environment.  I was impressed with how his concepts could be applied to my current work situation as I had to find new and inventive ways to conduct teambuilding while maintaining physical distancing due to COVID-19.  Never imagined 6 months ago I would be able to implement teambuilding activities with team members in 8 different locations via virtual platforms.  I chose the Energy Bus because the 10 rules identified are easy to follow and fit where I wanted to take the team.  We must get creative with our work products now and needed them to understand we must pull in the same direction.

Leveraging the https://www.theenergybus.com/ site, I was able to send each team member a bus ticket to invite them onto my bus.  It felt funny generating the ticket, but it seemed to excite people when they received the invitation.  Most of the team reached out to ask if they needed to present their ticket at our scheduled teambuilding session.  It was not required but a lot of them had their ticket ready just in case.  😊

10 Rules for the Ride of Your Life

  1. You are the driver of the Bus
  2. Desire, vision, and focus move your bus in the right direction
  3. Fuel your ride with positive energy
  4. Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead
  5. Do not waste energy on those who do not get on your bus
  6. Post a sign that says “No Energy Vampires Allowed” on your bus
  7. Enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energizes them during the ride
  8. Love your passengers
  9. Drive with purpose
  10. Have fun and enjoy the ride

We were able to go through the 10 Rules and discuss the impact each had on our new team adventures.  I gave the team my view of the 10 Rules and how I planned to leverage each of them.  We went around the virtual room and had each team member provide their feedback on each rule and how they would incorporate the rule daily.  I was pleasantly surprised when one of my teammates asked if she could give a full rundown for ALL the rules.  She did a fantastic job summarizing each rule and how it would be incorporated in her daily interactions.  This set the tone for the rest of the teambuilding session and let me know we are heading in the right direction.

I am always looking for ways to get the team to the next level.  Will continue to research teambuilding activities but highly recommend The Energy Bus if you are looking for ways to bring a team together.

What teambuilding activities does your organization use?  How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your team’s ability to gel?

 “Your positive energy and vision must be greater than anyone’s and everyone’s negativity.  Your certainty must be greater than everyone’s doubt”.

(John Gordon)

Walking into the Future with no backup plan

Make Things Happen

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“There’s no reason to have a plan B because it distracts from plan A”.

(Will Smith)

I routinely listen to the Fox Sports 1 (FS1) daily show, The Herd with Colin Cowherd to get caught up on sports commentary and for a few laughs.  Dude can be hilarious with some of his takes on sporting events, teams, and individual players.  Some people do not like him because he has a dry sense of humor, but he does a good job researching topics before introducing them on his show.

He recently started discussing the concept of successful people not having a plan B which routinely led them to success.  He leverages examples of athletes, business people, and sports personalities who took a risk on themselves without having an escape clause (plan B).  He asks in his high pitch voice:  you think Bill Gates had a plan B?  What about Steve Jobs?  You think I (Colin Cowherd) had a plan B before I picked up and moved from New York to Los Angeles?  No, no and no!

His point being is creating a plan B allows for less than max efforts towards plan A.  Never thought of this process in a similar way but believe my Walk into the Future mirrors his words in several ways.

One of my overarching goals on this walk was to never compromise my principles when it comes to work.  There were times I could have gone to a plan B and took another role that did not fit where I wanted to be, but I created the Walk into the Future mindset for a reason.  Some people could not understand why I would not rush back into the traditional world of work but had to stick to the plan–find things so I could make a difference in life daily.

I kept my focus on areas where I knew I could thrive, make a difference, and enjoy the process daily.  Discovered additional talents I had because of the focus on plan A only.  Research, writing blog articles, mentoring, and conducting speaking engagements served as my professional development incubator over the past two years.

While some people thought I was hanging out I was working on my craft to find additional ways to make a difference.  No limitations were present because I was free to create what Walk into the Future meant to me.  I look back at my first blog articles and can see the progression I have made over the past two years.  My research and writing process have improved and continue to get better daily

I put unlimited time, effort and thoughts into this plan and refused to get distracted.  I understand everyone cannot just walk away from their professional lives but being an Air Force retiree provides me with income to continue to do things like being a running tourist.

Please note I am not comparing myself to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Colin Cowherd—they all have a lot more money than me, but the no plan B mindset is similar.

Saw an opportunity in Fort Pierce, Florida and decided to go all in—no plan B.  The excitement and potential for the new role was vetted without an emotional approach and launched me forward.  Never looked back or sideways once committed to this new chapter.  My plan A continues to work for me!

Moving forward and Walking into the Future! 😊

What is your plan A?  How do you ensure your focus remains on plan A?

“There is no plan B for passion”.

(Chris Gardner)

 Great article from Jeff Haden:  https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/why-remarkably-successful-people-dont-make-backup-plans.html

Transition towards the future!

Transition

(Image by Volker Sachse from Pixabay)

“Light precedes every transition.  Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning”.

(Teresa Tsalaky)

I spend a large amount of time generating lists in my daily Walk into the Future.  This is not a new phenomenon because I find my lists help keep me focused and moving forward in multiple areas.  I track everything:  daily activities, weekly to-do lists, yearly goals, every gym workout, every mile I run and how fast I ran them.  Small correction, I do not track what I eat—may need to add this process since I have decided to eat better in 2020—we will see!  Guess a grocery list would help with this, huh? 😊

Decided to discuss my list making process because a tree branch wanted me to write an article about what the transition from my previous work life to my current Walk into the Future journey looks like.  His interest was more in understanding the transition because a lot of people talk about making a change but never really discuss what happens during the transition.

Of course, my transition started with a list.  I sat on a beach on 4/14/18 and created a PRO/CON list to give me a visual of why/if I wanted to Walk into the Future.  Did a complete assessment and put items under the PRO (stay) or CON (walk) column to give me something measurable.  The list was heavily populated on the CON side so my decision to Walk into the Future was easy to make and backed by data.  I will not dive into what was on the list but wanted to share there was a process involved to help with this decision.

“Transitions in life can offer opportunities for discovery”.

(Robbie Shell)

Throwback article on moving forward:

I am sure there are books and additional articles written by others who have transitioned from one work environment to another.  This process is unique to everyone who decides to Walk into the Future—I will share things unique to me and my current Walk into the Future.

Humility

Being humble signals a willingness to learn and continue to grow.  I have never professed I know everything, so I continue to be a lifelong learner.  I read, network and ask questions when I do not understand something.  Humility can speed up the transition process by seeking others to help along the way.  Therefore, I never turn down meetings, speaking engagements or random conversations—I am learning as I go, and everyone can be a good source of information for me.  I have maintained relationships with mentors and expanded my mentor pool to ensure I’m continuing to learn and grow.

Patience

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!  This is an old leadership axiom to get people to focus on the process and not get overwhelmed with the perceived end results.  Most things in life are a process and can be overcome with a patient approach.  I have had to display a high level of patience during my Walk into the Future because not everyone I encounter is trying to get to the exact place I am.  They may not even know how to help me get where I am headed and may need to refer me to someone else.  I have learned the art of the follow-up call/email very well during this period! 😊  Remember, one bite at a time.

Sense of Humor

Laughter is a great way to release endorphins and makes you feel good.  Laughter is also needed in this process because I do not take everything so seriously.  Life is stressful enough without us adding more to it.  I make a point to laugh, tell jokes and enjoy life to the max.  I smile when I pitch a proposal to organizations for speaking engagements and I smile when organizations so no thank you.  I generate a big old grin when I book a gig—it feels good!  The key I believe is not to get too high or low during this process—laughing daily helps with this.  I make a point to smile, laugh and enjoy myself when presenting to others—believe people relate to others who smile.

Confidence

Spend any amount of time with me and you will understand I do not lack confidence.  This really helped when making the decision to Walk into the Future.  It also leads to the ability to keep moving forward even when things do not go my way.  I have heard the word NO more times than YES during this process but cannot let that distract me from my mission to make a difference daily.  My lists mentioned earlier help as well because they allow me to check things off—never discount the importance of checking things off a list—it shows progress!  I view life as a journey and confidence helps every step of the way.  Positive self-talk is an outstanding way to get and maintain your confidence levels.

Mental and Physical outlets

My blog articles cover a lot of topics as I continue my Walk into the Future.  I purposely seek out activities to enhance my mental and physical well being daily.  My daily workouts, running program and yoga practice are designed to boost my physical fitness and allow me to generate endorphins.  Never discount the impact physical activity provides to daily life.

I am an avid reader, so bookstore and library visits are a regular part of my program.  I gravitate to blogs, online articles and LinkedIn to ensure I continue to learn new things.  My book topics range from self-help, psychology, poetry and autobiographies.  I do not venture into fiction much—John Sanford is the only fiction author I read on a regular basis.  Discovered him by accident over 20 years ago while stationed on Okinawa, Japan.  Been reading his work ever since.

I maintain a journal which helps me process my thoughts and aspirations.  This is a weekly process for me or anytime I am at the beach.  Lastly, the Walk into the Future blog provides an outstanding mental outlet vehicle for me.  Get to write and test out ideas here right in front of YOU! 😊

So, there you have it.  This is still an active transition for me as I explore new ideas, topics, interests and partnerships.  This journey will continue, and I am sure there will be pivots needed but the smile on my face will not go away.

Enjoy your transition as you walk with me!

How can you make the transitions needed for your journey?  Who can you partner with to enhance the transition period?  Thanks!

 “Life is a transition”.

(Lailah Gifty Akita)

The running tourist returns to New Orleans

“An American has not seen the United States until they have seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans”.

(Mark Twain)

Returned to New Orleans for the 2020 Rock N Roll Half Marathon in early February.  This was my third year running the race and I enjoyed the adventures of being a running tourist again this year.  The weather was warmer than normal for February but not too bad where runners couldn’t finish.

Decided to take full advantage of the running tourism available in a city with so much culture and things to see.  Of course, food is a major attraction in New Orleans, and I made sure I got to sample from different locations while visiting.

Rock N Roll EXPO

The EXPO was a little bigger this year with new vendors and products to try or take with you for use later.  Always exciting to see the other runners at the EXPO.  People from all over the world converging with the same mindset to run and enjoy their time in New Orleans.  The live DJ was a new twist at the EXPO but fit with the New Orleans experience.

Got to take a few pictures prior to picking up my race bib, t-shirt and goodies.  This is a highlight while visiting the EXPO—you’ve got to get your picture taken with the multiple props the Rock N Roll folks provide.  The giant Brooks running sneaker was a new feature to the EXPO this year—created a long line to get next to that sneaker.

Made my way through registration and the Rock N Roll merchandise shopping area—didn’t purchase any new gear this year.  Sampled some B12 drinks provided by vendors and stocked up on Energy Jellybeans for use before the race.  I’ve tried these before so no fear of a bad stomach reaction; I never try new things before a race so I don’t experience stomach issues–lesson learned. 😊

My favorite vendor at the EXPO provided massage chairs for use.  Of course, they wanted to sell some of the chairs, but I was able to get a FREE 15-minute chair massage and enjoyed every minute of it.  This was an added benefit of attending the EXPO.

“It’s rude to count people as you pass them.  Out loud”.

(Adidas ad)

Rock N Roll Half

My hotel was only two blocks away from the start line this year so got a little extra sleep on race day.  Race time temperatures normally start in the mid-40s this time of year, but racers were greeted with high-50s and humidity prior to the start.  This meant we were in for a race finish much warmer than most of us wanted.

I was pleasantly surprised my race corral was #2 this year.  I remember my first Rock N Roll race had me in corral #24 so looks like I’m moving up in the world. 😊  The New Orleans course is flat and mostly shady which helps when the sun comes out.

Decided to enjoy the course and scenery during the first half of the race—didn’t push my pace to let the other runners thin out a bit around me.  The first mile is always the toughest for me because you’re surrounded by so many people.  Had to display a new level of patience knowing I could make up time later in the race due to training progress and enhanced fitness levels.

A good portion of the half marathon takes place on St. Charles Avenue which is lined with homes, shops and restaurants.  It’s a rich environment for spectators to cheer runners and provide additional encouragement.  This area feels like New Orleans to me and I enjoyed the scenery while making my way through the city.

It’s always great when we get to see the ELITE runners on the opposite side of St. Charles Ave. after they make the turn to head back towards the Warehouse District–this is the only time we get to see the ELITES until the finish line.  They are impressive to watch run!

We made our way through the Warehouse District then into the French Market before ending at Roosevelt Mall in City Park.  The French Market is always full of people eating breakfast who come out to cheer for the runners.  This provides a little more inspiration to finish—please note, there’s no shade here and it started to get hot quickly so people cheering was appreciated!

Was able to lock in mentally at this point and trust my training to get me to the finish line.  Took my last energy gel at Mile 11 and decided to enjoy my experience, the scenery and the other runners and pushed forward.  Even high fived a few spectators who lined the streets to cheer for us—this was a fun day!

Completed the half in 2:07:34 which was 3 minutes faster than I ran in 2019.  Not bad for the first race of the year and the temperature. Full disclosure, this was my second fastest half marathon so I’m extremely happy to start running season with a bang.  Got two full months to prepare for Nashville in April.  Another highlight of the Rock N Roll weekend is a new event added to the 2020 calendar—Clearwater, Florida in October.  Excited to have a home state race on the calendar!  Got my early bird registration in for Clearwater to take advantage of the low price.  Should be fun!

Chicken and Waffles again!

Raved about the chicken and waffles at the Creole House last year and had to try the dish again this year.  They did not disappoint!  This is still one of my favorite stops in New Orleans. The food, service and atmosphere are first rate and highly recommend the Creole House if you plan to visit New Orleans.

Found a worthy competitor for the Creole House at Daisy Mae’s.  Daisy Mae’s is on a side street most tourist may not venture down.  Got lucky because it was one street over from my hotel and I noticed the locals going in and out.  Decided it was worth a visit and I was not disappointed with my choice.  I’m not a food critic but would recommend EVERYONE stop by Daisy Mae’s for the chicken and waffles.  I’m not a huge spicy food eater but the spice on the fried chicken was amazing—spicy but not over the top.  I love the Creole House, but Daisey Mae’s has made it on my must visit list too.  Please be patient, they cook chicken as it’s ordered so the wait can be 15 – 20 minutes but well worth it!

Won’t bore you with French Quarter recaps—I drank, listened to great music and took in the Bourbon Street scene multiple times.  Always an eye-opening experience!

Looking to expand my running tourism reach in 2020—got some new cities lined up to visit and enjoy while running.  Who’s with me?

 

Where are you running in 2020?  Where have you always wanted to go but have not been yet?  What’s holding you back?  Get out there and Walk into the Future!

“I run so my goals in life get bigger instead of my belly”.

(Bill Kirby)

 

Where do leaders come from?

Leadership image

(Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay)

“I’m a leader not a follower.  Unless it’s a dark place, then you are going first”.

(Unknown)

Got invited back down to Orlando in October for my recurring speaking role on the Intern Whisperer podcast.

Season 2, Episode 92 featured me discussing all things leadership to include earliest memories of venturing into leadership roles.

The quote above makes me laugh because I know people who perform in their leadership role in a similar manner.  No worries when things are going well but no support, help or empathy when things get tough.  These so-called leaders also seek the spotlight in good times and hide out during the bad.

Back to the podcast and why I’m discussing leadership in this blog post.  The students who produce the Intern Whisperer podcast are extremely sharp and asked great questions from start to finish.  One question that really stood out to me was, “What was your earliest memory of taking on a leadership role and how did it make you feel”?

Seems like a straightforward question but I had to think about it for a bit.  I have always been an athlete and grew up playing multiple sports; football, basketball, baseball and track (high jump).  Never considered being active in sports as leadership, just a way to pass the time and hang out with friends.  Yes, I know leadership and teamwork are integral in a team environment, but I was just having fun during this time frame.  My interviewers seemed to think my sports background would have been where my leadership foundation started.

My earliest memory of taking on an active leadership role and embracing everything involved was when I became a Master Instructor at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi (Biloxi).

I served at multiple Air Force installations as a Personnel Systems Manager (HR Data Analyst) and got an opportunity to train analysts Air Force wide based on my work performance and knowledge.  So, I went for writing computer code for one Air Force base to training every data analyst in my career field—worldwide.  Pretty heady stuff for someone from Jasper, Florida!

This role stands out as my earliest leadership memory because I had to expand my personal and professional goals and understand the importance of ensuring my students got a world class education.  Everything they needed to be successful in the career field came directly from me.  I couldn’t have a bad day in class because my lack of preparation, patience or knowledge would hinder their abilities to perform; in class and when they returned to their respective organizations around the world.

I went from being responsible for myself to leading a group of 25 students on a six-week educational journey.  We routinely graduated 10 classes every fiscal year—I spent 4 years as an Air Force instructor at Keesler Air Force Base before moving back into my career field at Kadena Air Base, Japan (Okinawa).

The Air Force Technical School environment is the incubator that taught me leaders must be able to adjust leadership style, inspirational tactics and provide tough love when needed.  The students needed different things to successfully complete our course.  My ability to lead was needed daily.

It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done but it laid the foundation for my current leadership and life philosophy:  Make a difference daily!

Leadership article

(Instructor of the Year Presentation)

What are your earliest leadership memories?  How do these memories impact you today? (Respond in the comments section—thanks!) 

Thanks for walking with me!

“Be a LEADER, not a boss”.

(Calvin Williams)

2019 Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon recap — the Benjamin Button effect

OUC prerace

“You know you’re a runner when, your running shoes ARE the most expensive pair of shoes you possess”.

(Anonymous runner)

My 2019 racing schedule ended on 12/7/19 at the OUC half marathon in Orlando.

This was my 5th half marathon and 7th race of the year.  I started 2019 with an aggressive (for me) race schedule where I wanted to race more and increase the number of half marathon finishes.  I also set a goal to run a half marathon under 2 hours—I didn’t meet this goal but did improve my Personal Record (PR) four times this year, so progress has been made.  I’m faster now than when I started running half marathons in 2013 (Benjamin Button).

How many times running this race?

I started my half marathon quest in 2013 at this very same race.  A UCF friend convinced me to run a half marathon with intent to run it with me for support.  She had several half and full marathons completed and thought it would be a good challenge for me to run a half marathon.

Fast forward a bit, I signed up and began training but her husband got a job transfer and they moved to Dallas, Texas before the race.  I thought about backing out since I didn’t have a running partner but decided to give it a try on my own.

Had no idea how to train, eat or prepare for a half marathon so simply relied on athletic ability for my first try.  This was a horrible idea!  I would have quit during my first half marathon but didn’t know how to get back to my car, so had to keep going in order to figure out where I parked.  This is not a joke, I finished because I had no other choice.

Ran this race again the following year because I had to prove to myself, I could run a half marathon and appear to be competent while doing it.  I improved my finish times incrementally over the years so the pull to come back was there.  I skipped the OUC half marathon in 2018 and ran on Amelia Island instead.

The 2019 race was my sixth time running the OUC half marathon.  I’m currently 19 minutes faster than the first time I ran the same race (Benjamin Button).

Why come back?

Wanted to test my new training knowledge and program against a course that beat me up in the past.  Figured the best way to know if I’m improving is to run the course I wanted to quit on and then move forward.

Happy to report I enjoyed the 2019 version of this race from start to finish!  Even found myself with a goofy smile on my face for some reason around mile 9.  This may have been the runner’s high people tell me about, but I never experienced before.

No worries just decided to keep on smiling and run my best.  This approach allowed me to finish with a PR (2:05:51) and a level of satisfaction with my entire 2019 running program.  Can always look for areas to improve but very happy to improve my PR four times this year.  As you can see, I’m getting faster as I get older (Benjamin Button).  I’m still looking for another gear and project to get a bit faster in 2020.

Stick with the Walk into the Future blog to follow my running progress.

Race recap

Decided not to put an official time goal on this race but wanted to run fast and safely.  My top goal was to have fun and complete the 2019 race schedule in style.

Blue is my power color so outfitted with blue from head to toe for this race.  Accented my race outfit with orange compression sleeves to represent the Florida Gators as I ran through downtown Orlando.

Miles 1 – 5

Wanted to get out fast but not expend too much energy during the first third of the race.  The OUC half marathon also has a 5k race which starts at the same time.  Wanted to avoid the extra runners at the beginning of the race so went out with a controlled pace and mindset until the 5k runners split away from the half marathoners at Mile #2.  Felt good with my mile splits and knew I had the conditioning to keep my pace going.

Miles 6 – 10

Past races I’ve struggled with this portion of the half marathon.  My training, nutrition and mindset have improved this year to where I know how to handle this segment of the race and not slow down much.  Was able to stay consistent with my mile splits with no glaring slow miles.  This may have been why my goofy smile came out—I knew I was running faster and not slowing a bit.

Miles 11 – 13.1

Realized I wouldn’t break 2 hours at this point but didn’t let that take my smile away. Kept plugging away because I knew I could set another PR by just pressing forward.

Put TI’s song, Motivation on repeat because this is my running hype song that helps me mentally when I run.

The goofy smile was with me the entire time and the miles flew by.  There were spectators out helping the runners finish strong; I’m sure they were cheering for me, but I was in my zone and focused on finding the finish line.

Crossed the finish line at 2:05:51 (two hours, 5 minutes and 51 seconds) with a smile on my face and a raised fist!  You would have thought I saved the world from annihilation from my reaction, but it was a big deal to me.  Ran a smart race with a good time and felt great physically at the end.  Trifecta!

After race party

Track Shack does a fantastic job with all aspects of race day.

The vendors, health care and music after the race are first rate.  Made my way to the beer truck to get my two beers to go along with my other snacks collected in the vendor area.  Yes, runners really drink beer at 9:30 am—we’ve earned it after getting up before the sun rises and running 13.1 miles. LOL.  Ran into a few people I knew from my time in Orlando and we celebrated another great Track Shack race.

“It’s all about the bling!”

(Spectator sign, 2019)

Benjamin Button

So, why do I reference Benjamin Button in this post?  Great question!

Most people begin to slow down as runners as they age.  I’ve only been attempting the half marathon distance for 6 years now and continue to learn more about training, nutrition (beet juice) and mental focus.  I’m just scratching the surface on my running ability and see faster times coming in 2020.  So, I’m not getting younger but faster (Benjamin Button).  I’m sure the day will come when I can’t keep running faster times but it’s not here yet—so fast I must go! 😊

“For what it’s worth, it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be”.

(Benjamin Button)

Goodbye OUC hello San Antonio Rock N Roll (2020)

I will not run the OUC half marathon in 2020.  I’m trading this race and experience in for the 2020 San Antonio Rock N Roll half marathon.  I lived in San Antonio while in the Air Force but wasn’t a runner then.  This will be my chance to run in a great city and experience the culture and the River Walk from a different perspective.  I’m sure I’ll return to the OUC race again in the future, maybe 2021.

Project to run 7 half marathons in 2020.

Already registered for New Orleans (February), Nashville (April) and Philly (September).  Will add San Antonio and Savannah; looking at San Diego and maybe Las Vegas to complete 7 with the Rock N Roll series.  May adjust with a local half marathon but 7 is the number for 2020.

Logged just under 1,000 miles on this running journey in 2019; I’m sure that number is going up in 2020.  Who’s ready to run with me? 😊

 

How many of your 2019 goals did you accomplish?  Have you thought about your 2020 goals yet?

Thanks for walking with me!

Merry Christmas!  Will see you in 2020!  Thanks!

OUC Christmas tree

We all win with diverse work environments!

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“Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without”.

(William Sloan Coffee, Jr.)

Merriam-Webster defines diversity as the condition of having or being composed of differing elements.  Clear as mud, right?

Organizations with diversity initiatives need to ensure they fully understand what diversity means.  Simply making a statement does not ensure diversity in the work environment will happen.  Diversity must be examined in order to identify how it can be fully implemented and embraced in the work environment.

Some organizations define diversity on very short-sighted components i.e., men, women, race.  These components are all intertwined when discussing diversity but there should be more components included in a truly diverse work environment.

Leveraging background dynamics, educational and life experiences as well as demographic components will help generate a new level of diversity for organizations who truly seek this in the work environment.  There are some organizations who say they want diversity but continue to hire clones of the staff currently working there.  This is the opposite of the Merriam-Webster’s diversity definition.

“We need diversity of thought in the world to face the new challenges”.

(Tim Berners-Lee)

Diverse work environments value different perspectives. This includes skills, experiences, backgrounds and education.  This concept brings a variety of ways to get things done.  Bringing diversity into the work environment allows the organization to grow and avoid the groupthink mentally that stifles new thoughts.

New thoughts in the work environment leads to increased creativity when facing a problem, change or new procedure.  True diversity brings together people who will see the same problem from different perspectives and sharpens everyone because of this exposure.  The creative impact on the organization increases because staff hear, see, feel, think differently and exposes others to different ways to get things done.  This creativity process may also impact innovation within the organization.

Decision making and problem solving are other areas a diverse work environment can enhance.  Again, a diverse work force brings new thoughts, ideas and ways to get things done to the workplace.  Leadership receives diverse solutions to organizational problems and has multiple options to select from.  This leads to faster problem solving and allows the organization to tackle new challenges.

A caution, leadership must be willing to accept the diverse solutions and not revert to business as usual.  The worse thing that can happen is for leadership to say “we always do it this way OR that will not change as long as I’m here”—the quickest way to deflate staff and eliminate their voice in the work environment.

A diverse work environment can also help retain staff members.  A diverse and empowered work environment helps staff members feel accepted and valued.  This creates a happier work force and may lead to staff staying with the organization longer.

So, let’s examine the Merriam-Webster diversity definition again:

  • The condition of having or being composed of differing elements.

A few elements to consider for workplace diversity:

  • Race
  • Gender / Identity
  • Education / Educational Institutions
  • Geographic region
  • Age
  • Experience

A final thought on diversity is it impacts your clients as well.  A more diverse work force can enhance an organization’s ability to attract diverse clients.  Example:  an office with diverse staff will be able to attract diverse clients because they see someone similar.  Don’t overlook the importance of how diversity impacts your clients.

What does your organization do to ensure a diverse work environment?  How can diversity be improved?

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance”.

(Verna Myers)

Thanks for walking with me!

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Leverage a growth mindset to maximize your success

 

 

“You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By becoming a little better every day, over a period of time, you will become a lot better”.

(John Wooden)

Growth mindset has been defined as people believe their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point (Carol Dweck).

Fixed mindset

A fixed mindset puts undue parameters in place.  An individual who believes they are only good at certain things will most likely only be good at those things.  You can talk yourself into or out of anything.  A fixed mindset can hinder progress because of the avoidance of anything that may challenge you.  This process causes individuals to give up when tasks get hard or unfamiliar.

A fixed mindset limits individual growth because of sticking to what you know only—attempts to try or learn new things are avoided at all costs.  A sad aspect of this mindset is when people believe potential is predetermined.

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t—you’re right”.

(Henry Ford)

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Growth mindset

Contrasting the fixed mindset with growth mindset highlights the importance of positive thinking and actions.  People with a growth mindset view failure as an opportunity, not something to shy away from.  Functioning as a lifelong learner is another aspect of the growth mindset—the foundational principle is to never stop learning new things and tasks.

Positive effort and attitude are thought to be determining factors toward individual abilities.  This concept helps eliminate being defeated even before starting a task.  The success of others leads to inspiration for someone with a growth mindset.

The great things my tree branches accomplish daily inspire me to continue to grow and make a difference.

A hidden aspect of the growth mindset is the freedom it provides to practitioners.

Growth mindset is based on not limiting yourself (thoughts or actions) so you approach each day as a gift.  You seek new challenges because you have the tools to accomplish them.  You’re willing to try new things because you never want to stop learning and improving your knowledge and abilities.  Setbacks are your opportunity to learn, reset and then try another approach to the challenge you face.

Lessons are everywhere when you embrace the growth mindset.

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

(Napoleon Hill)

Growth mindset key factors:

  • You can learn anything needed for success
  • Displaying the right attitude makes learning possible
  • Challenges are viewed with excitement
  • Failure is not the end
  • Positive words, thoughts and actions daily

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you don’t stop”.

(Confucius)

How can a growth mindset impact your daily interactions?  What things do you need to change to adopt a growth mindset?  Thanks!

Reference

TED Speaker, Carol Dweck. (n.d.) Retrieved July 22, 2019, from https://www.ted.com/speakers/carol_dweck. 

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