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Fri 5 March 2021
As a Chief People Officer, I found the loss in having a leader to bounce ideas off, guide me in my continuous learning journey, and provide unique perspectives. 

Others now look to me to play this role, and I found myself seeking other channels to ensure I am not losing sight of my learning journey to continue to be a source of fresh perspective and insight for those that report to me and whom I mentor.  

I fear becoming a rigid HR professional who becomes obsolete and irrelevant. HR professionals can positively impact their organizations, resulting in a ripple effect that flows into an employee’s home life, communities, and personal interactions.  

When you look at the sphere of influence in total, it becomes quite large.  During a recent Friday conversation with a direct report in which he realized the power of an aligned purpose-driven organization, he exclaimed this was now a “Fired Up Friday.”  

What if every employee felt that way?  Can you imagine the incredible outcomes?  

As an HR professional, I want to continue to make “Fired Up Fridays” possible for everyone.  That is why the peer mentoring program intrigued me.  

After one conversation with my pair mentor, I could see the possibilities. I can see how our conversations will challenge and sharpen each other and keep our perspectives fresh. It is indeed a “Fired Up Friday”!

Wed 3 March 2021
In my executive peer mentoring, the latest area we’ve addressed is looking at a major goal in our lives – first, one where we failed to reach the goal; second, where we did. 

In both cases, what were obstacles we faced that hindered, derailed, or threatened to keep us from reaching the goal? A great exercise, thanks to the Ambition in Motion team.
 
Without sharing either story at length (which might interest you, or bore you to tears), two things, in particular, stood out to me:

When is a goal, not a goal?

What are critical success factors, to overcoming obstacles in your path toward the goal?

To flesh this out -

When a goal isn’t really a goal


In the goal where I failed, I realized that I saw it evolve. First, I had the sense that I wanted to do something – that is, write a new book. I had that as a goal in my head, for the better part of a year. Then, I moved the goal into writing – I had set the goal for a specific year, to “write a new book”. I even had a couple of strategies I’d seen presented and used, and thought about the various steps: develop vision and abstract, outline, key themes, and write the introduction. 
 
But it remained unfulfilled because I went month after month without being more specific and intentional. What were the obstacles?

Life: Workload, personal commitments, family, volunteer activity
Me:  It became apparent that this just wasn’t a priority for me.

So, a goal is not a goal when I don’t get underneath it, behind it, and intentional about it, and devote time and energy toward it.
 
Sounds simple – as so many things in life are!

Critical success factors to overcoming obstacles


In both examples where I failed, and when I succeeded in reaching the goal – I reflected on obstacles that were in the way. To get us to a goal that is really a goal, we need to:

Make it a SMART goal (you’ve almost certainly heard this, but it’s no less true):
  • Specific - concise
  • Measurable – will know when it’s complete
  • Achievable – something I can control, vs. solving world hunger
  • Realistic – something I am equipped for
  • Time-based – target date, deadline, milestones.

Make it a priority


I tend to be goal and list-focused. If it’s on a list, it gets done. If it’s on a list as an “A” priority, it really will get done (Bs get moved out and done later, sometimes when they upgrade to As. Cs tend to get pushed out and done much later if ever). So, what do I relegate to the B or C list, to make room for the A goal?

Allocate time to it


Plan time in blocks, or chunks, devoted to it. Push off other attempts to encroach on the time that’s been allocated for working on it.

Keep your motivation for it


We build and maintain momentum, from the motivation that comes from within us. Without that, the other steps I’ve outlined, simply won’t happen. My mentor also observed that we can build the motivation for developing a new habit, by “doing” the habit! Practice yields behavior.

So if you’re a bit stymied in getting to something you’ve set for yourself as a goal – consider the above. Is it really a goal for you? Or an idea that you heard or had, or an “external” goal that someone else has for you? If it’s real, reframe it as a SMART goal, and examine your priorities and time.
 
Happy “goal-tending”…


Fri 19 February 2021
I recently met with my new peer mentor and really didn't know what to expect. I joined Ambition in Motion to stay vulnerable while continuing to grow personally and professionally, but I didn't really know how the journey was going to start off. It felt like I was jumping into the ocean, but not really knowing how deep the water was going to be or if there were any nearby resources around that I could use to stay afloat. Regardless, I jumped in with open eyes, and am glad I did! 
 
I learned that we have A LOT in common! Our paths and motivations were slightly different, but we both joined Ambition in Motion to grow as people and as leaders, and I respect her just for making that important observation and decision. We both have a passion for people, teams and helping them be effective and transform into different versions of themselves. 

I'm proud of how I've done this in the past and am excited to hear how she has done so as well. I tend to see my career as a "challenge" with milestones that I can accomplish along the way like building teams, structures, systems, programs, and other relatable items that improve or enhance a company's ability to attract, hire and retain the best talent. 

Accomplishments for me are "wins" that I can tout and be proud of along the way, only to jump right into the next challenge and "win" all over again. I'm a little competitive with myself! :) She thinks of her career as a "calling" as she was meant to do the things and career she has based on her passion in life. I think of life as a game with obstacles to overcome that I need to "win", but haven't thought of my career as a purpose before. A very interesting way of thinking! 
 
Needless to say, I'm excited to continue this discussion with my peer mentor as I believe different minds can come together to make beautiful things happen to those around you. Even though you may think differently, find the commonality that you have with someone and see where that takes you as a person or at work. Your approach may work, but others may work as well - and maybe better. 

Don't discredit those that are different than you, or think in a way that is not your own. When you do this, you close your mind to different possibilities that you would've never thought of or pursued before. Keep your eyes wide open when you meet new people. This is how you learn and continue to grow!

Tue 16 February 2021
One of the lessons that I’m continually being taught is the value of reflection and retrieval.  Our last two sessions certainly reinforced this lesson.

Reflection:  Making time to deliberately review an event, a day, a week, etc.  Reflection is more than just recounting the details or the chronology, but it involves evaluation and analysis.  What went wrong?  Why?  Could it have been prevented?  Could it have been anticipated?

More often than we might like to admit, we can learn far more when things don’t go the way we planned, or even if they completely fail, than if they had gone perfectly. 

Retrieval:  The ability to recall both specifics and related information from a past event.   One of the challenges in the field of education and training is not just how to cram information into a person’s head, but teaching them how to retrieve them quickly and correctly when needed.   Sometimes the ability of retrieval can mean the difference between life and death.  The military uses repetition and drills to create muscle memory so that some actions don’t even require concentrated thought.  They become more of a reaction than a decision – but “time to think” (or retrieve) isn’t a luxury you often have in combat.

So how does retrieval connect with reflection?  If you only take the time to reflect after an event you can glean a lot of useful information.  Some of which you may be able to put to good use right away.  But if you don’t learn how to retrieve those lessons later, when they are needed, they have greatly diminished value.  

I’ve heard many people say how much they “hate” quizzes and tests.  I think it’s because we don’t do a good job explaining to students what the test is trying to do – if we did, they would study very differently.  Tests don’t measure what you “know” or what you crammed into some small crevice of your brain.  They measure what you can retrieve.  

Now let me try to bring this all together.  In our last two Peer Mentoring sessions, we had the opportunity to revisit some of our past goals and discuss which ones were successfully accomplished and which ones taught us something.  

None of the stories we shared were new to either one of us.  But in the process of retrieving these stories and telling them again, I was reminded of past lessons learned, maybe even almost forgotten.  It helped me to remember how important it is to revisit our own past, success, and lessons, so that when the “next time” comes around we can quickly retrieve the knowledge to help us be more successful.


Wed 6 January 2021
Let's talk about Impossible Goals - or as a colleague of mine calls them BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals). These are goals that seem completely ridiculous today but speak directly to what you want in your core being. 
 
It most likely is impossible today. But I learned that "Impossible" is temporary. We have been told that your goals need to not be "Impossible." Not exactly worded that way, but that was the intent. Many times, you hear “Make the goal realistic” or “Attainable.” And I agree with that, to an extent. I have found that often what a person thinks is realistic to them, is far less than they could actually achieve. So, setting a goal that is impossible today, doesn't mean to it won't be possible tomorrow. Every little step you take opens doors and opportunities that didn't exist before. 
 
However, the goal cannot be arbitrary. For example, if my BHAG is something like “I want to be worth $10 million dollars.” by itself is not good enough. I need to be emotionally connected to the impossible to achieve it. In other words, WHY do I want to be worth $10 million dollars? Why $10 million? Are the reasons materialistic? Philanthropic? The motivations behind the goal are just as important as the goal itself. Otherwise, when the inevitable setbacks that happen along the way, I would be more likely to give up.
 
If you have an impossible BHAG – ask yourself WHY do I want to achieve this goal, then map out the steps needed to achieve it, and take the first step, then the next. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make the impossible, possible.
Wed 19 August 2020
When I met with my mentor this month, we talked a lot about changing focus. We discussed our career aspirations, our current workload, and our personal endeavors as well. In each one, though, change was the major factor.

We discussed changing careers, both past and future planned shifts. Sometimes you change careers because you are tired of doing the same old thing and sometimes it’s because you have a passion for something new. Regardless of why you’re changing, you can always take skills from your past roles with you. No job is really a waste of time, as long as you learned something new or learned something about yourself. Sometimes it takes a change of scenery to see that though.

Change can also come in the form of quickly shifting focus during your day-to-day work. Some days, I find myself deep in the middle of a project and then a major HR issue comes up that I have to deal with on the spot. It can be jarring to have to switch back and forth between priorities quickly, but exercising that muscle is one of the most valuable things I’ve learned in my professional career. Both my mentor and I have recently had to deal with this often. It’s reassuring to understand that everyone has ongoing projects and sometimes you just have to stop and fight fires. If you take a moment to regroup and reassess your priorities after the urgent task is completed, you’ll be in much better shape to continue your project work.

Changing focus can sometimes seem like a waste of time or a failed effort as well. We recently discussed that, at times, we have projects that just get dropped altogether. When that happens, it can be pretty devastating when you’ve put notable effort into something and then it comes to nothing. At the very least, it’s annoying. Projects get laid by the wayside for many reasons - management changing priorities, personal priorities changing, environmental changes -  sometimes a project is just deemed infeasible or unviable after extensive research. There’s always something to be taken from a dropped project though. I always learn new skills, or sharpen old ones and that’s the main personal reason for most any project anyway. In addition to changing focus externally, focusing on lessons and skills learned is just as valuable as anything.
Wed 12 August 2020
Over the course of my career, there has been an increasing focus on making work “easier”.  This initiative has taken many forms over the years, ranging from process improvements and documentation, to streamlining meetings, to improved electronic platforms, etc.  As I began to get involved with the Ambition in Motion program, my personal workload began to increase as well, and more than ever the need for an “easy” application was essential.

 I can comfortably say that this program is very easy, with a clearly defined structure, easy to follow instructions, and continued touchpoints and follow-up from the program administrators.  In addition to the regular Mentorship sessions, there as many other opportunities for personal growth.  I can honestly say that the most difficult portion of this program is personally finding the time to take full advantage of what is offered.  I am very excited to see how this continues to grow and evolve.



Wed 5 August 2020
This week I had my second meeting with my Peer Mentor and it was another good one.   Each time we meet Garrett has a recommended agenda that ensures each meeting will be productive and avoids the “So, what do you want to talk about today” condition that can be stifling.  However, he always gives us permission to deviate from “the script” and go wherever the moment takes us. The topic was “Collaboration” and this time we stuck to the agenda.  We were asked to share the biggest challenge facing us currently, but that wasn’t all.  We were supposed to ask our mentor to assist us with the challenge – not just give advice on how to deal with it.  

When I first read that I thought, “Since my biggest challenge is something I need to do at/for work and Mike can’t work on that, I better pick some other challenge that he can help with.”   Then, when I shared this thought with Garrett he pushed back.  “Why limit Mike and possibly miss a great opportunity for him to collaborate with you?”   That’s when I realized that this sort of pre-qualifying others for their help is something that I do a lot.   How many times at work, at home, at church, or elsewhere have I faced a situation that I could use some help but I tell myself, “(that person) can’t help you with that”, so I never ask.   Even when that person is there to help!   

I don’t know if this is function of pride (I don’t really need the help), or trying to save the other person from having to say, “Sorry, I can’t help with that”, or being afraid that they may reject me and refuse to help.   Whatever it is, I’m sure that it has cost me many many hours and dollars trying to struggle on my own.  Further, how many people have I denied the opportunity to be helpful to me.  When I do that it is truly lose-lose. 

After this session, I’ve decided that I would be more open with those around me who may have abilities that I’m unaware of that would be perfect for my present challenge.   Who is in your circle that would be happy to help you in ways that you didn’t even know they could?

Wed 29 July 2020
My latest executive peer mentoring session examined each of our core values and why we do what we do. Some of the questions posed were: What is your core focus for why you work? Why do you exist? What impact do you want to have? What is your strategy for getting others to help you achieve this impact? We were encouraged to brainstorm what that impact will that look like in 10 years... 3 years… How about in one year?
 
These are facilitated by Ambition In Motion (https://ambition-in-motion.com).
 
I usually look for one or two Big Ideas to take away (sometimes I come up with more, believe me!). Two that really stood from our time last week are:
 
  1. The power of impact
I routinely coach clients to look at the IMPACT they have. What is a pattern of results that they have accomplished, over time? What do they do consistently, repeatedly, naturally? This represents the impact they have on their surroundings – and it can take a variety of forms. For a salesperson, it can be consistently overachieving their quota/revenue objectives. For a manager, it might be achieving unit/department/area results – and how many people they have helped to develop or mentor along the way. It may be areas or processes they have helped to improve.
 
Most often, the impact we have usually flows from our exercising the core strengths we have, consistent with working and living out our own core values. It’s an outgrowth of who we are.
 
Want to see an illustration? Think of someone you know pretty well - pull up their LinkedIn profile. Scroll down to any Recommendations that others have written about them. The chances are that you’ll see this at work.
 
Working with clients in developing them in their career, I routinely ask them a lot of questions to pull this out. I strongly encourage them to articulate their impact in the first half-page of their resume, and in the Summary of their LinkedIn profile.

2. The power of reflection
My mentor Geoff shared one of John Maxwell’s practices. He is a consummate journal-maker, taking notes of actions, reactions, and results daily. He takes a few days at the end of each year to re-read his diary and reflect. Geoff challenged the two of us to independently plan a couple of days at the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021, to re-read notes, recap goals, and savor accomplishments. And, how about reflecting on key actions and causes behind the accomplishments? How about those goals or actions that were inadvertently “left behind”?
 
I make monthly goals, then weekly goals. I don’t journal in notebooks hardcopy much, certainly not like I used to. But I do keep track of those goals and have them available. Note to self: Block out 1-2 days in December for intentional reflection.
 
We just passed mid-year in the midst of a pandemic, forcing us to spend more time by ourselves. Maye now is a good time to reflect. Or, look ahead and intentionally plan for that.
 
How about you - What’s YOUR impact?
 
Wed 22 July 2020
In my discussion with my mentor this month, we talked about challenging ourselves and setting tangible goals. It’s common knowledge that the best way to succeed at anything is to set goals and objectives and measure yourself against them. It’s not always so easy to actually do it, or even remember that you should. It is very easy to get lost in the business of daily life and work and forget to set goals for yourself. It’s also easy to make excuses that allow you to put them off. 

For me personally, there’s a level of fear in setting goals as well. If I go through the process of setting a goal, then that means I could fail. If I don’t set any goals, I can never technically fail. That’s not really a useful way to accomplish anything though, which is why having a mentor is so helpful. Among many other things, a mentor can be an accountability partner. This partnership is a powerful tool for both creating and reaching goals, which is exactly what we talked about in our last meeting. 

My mentor and I helped each other create some goals for the next few months. My goals were created as a result of my most recent peer review. My self-ratings were pretty well in-line with those of my peers, however my own scores were slightly lower than my peers’. With some insight from Garrett Mintz of Ambition in Motion, we figured out that this means I’m likely able to ask a little more from my colleagues. My mentor and I took that idea and created a goal from it. My goal is to make at least three asks per week that I normally wouldn’t. This may seem simple, but it’s a confidence building exercise. It’s a stepping stone on my way to larger, greater goals as well. My mentor has his own goals too, and we’ll be checking in with each other weekly to see if we’ve followed through, that’s where the accountability comes in. I’m excited to get started and see where we go next!


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