Fear

What is fear? I don’t mean when you’re walking down a street at night and you feel like you’re being followed. That is rational and hardwired into our DNA fear. I am referring to the fear we have of something going wrong. We fear not doing the job well enough. We fear not making our appointment on time? There are many fears we can all relate to of this type. They appear to be irrational in nature.

What would happen if we were late for the appointment? What would happen if it was not your best work? What would happen if…? My opinion, nothing! Nothing serious would happen in most cases. Yet we worry and fear that things won’t be what is expected.

What is expected? Do we hold ourselves to a different standard than others? Do you judge someone who was late due to traffic? Do you consider someone’s work to be less than they could have done? Often times we give the people in our lives a pass. You don’t hold others to the same standards as you hold yourself.

Should we ignore our fears? I don’t believe so. I believe our fears tell us something about ourselves. We need to listen. However, we do not need to dwell on these fears. Ask yourself, what would happen if? Most of the times it is not of major consequence. We can give ourselves a pass.

Our expectations of ourselves are important. We should all try to be better. This is part of what makes us who we are. Without setting a standard, we are not serving ourselves or those in our lives. So today don’t fear, give yourself a pass and next time you will do better.

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Resolutions

Happy New Year!

Welcoming in a New Year is always filled with hope. Many people make resolutions to do things differently in their lives. Perhaps exercise more, or eat better, are on their list of resolutions. Some have been able to make these resolutions stick. They have never worked for me, so I stopped making resolutions. They are too finite. Life is not that clean cut to just decide to change the way you have been living.

Resolutions are firm actions. Resolutions as defined by http://dictionary.reference.com

  1. The act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc.
  2. A resolve; a decision or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.
  3. The mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.
  4. The resulting state.
    1. An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.
    2. The end or object intended; purpose.
    3. Purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct

Instead I set intentions. Intention as defined by http://dictionary.reference.com

  1. An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.
  2. The end or object intended; purpose.
  3. Purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct

An intention is something I can keep going back to during the year. Reminding myself how I wanted to improve. Then I can act to make small meaningful efforts to achieve those changes. I have an intention to do better with empathy. This is life changing and not an easy task to accomplish. However, I can be more mindful every day to be more empathetic. Will it be on my list next year?  Probably, it was on my list for the last couple of years.  This is why I like intentions. It is a more positive and forgiving way to change things in your life.

If you are wondering why empathy, this is one area in business and life, that we should all work to improve.  I am not speaking about sympathy.  Seeing things from another viewpoint or understanding why a person response in a certain manner can help us achieve better communication.

What in your life do you want to improve? Even wanting things like checking off something on your bucket list can be an intention. You don’t have to be restrictive about what and how you accomplish something in the New Year. Simply doing anything to make your life and the life of others better every year is a worthy endeavor.  If the New Year is your time to evaluate what you want to improve, make it your intention this year!

Balance

Work life balance has gotten a lot of attention in the last few decades. Why is this topic so difficult that it stays in the minds of human resource professionals, professional coaches, TV talk shows and even the nightly news? Some say the world has sped up with all the technology, others say you have to work harder to survive. I think not, however I am not proposing to address these arguments here.

I propose the problem is that we are trying to balance two parts of our lives rather than treating life as one.

I personally have let many things slide for the holidays this year. For one, I promised I would keep blogging on a weekly basis. Obviously, other things took priority and that’s OK. Last night I finally balanced my checking account; 6 months of statements. Why last night? Something trigger my curiosity about my account balance. Therefore, it became important to reconcile my account. It became my priority. I did not have anything that took a higher priority; not even the Texas bowl game.

Work is part of all our lives. You are one person. When you prioritize something in your life, it is because you see value. We all need money to live. Therefore, we all must find a means of income; commonly known as work. We all clearly see the value of work and hence it is prioritized.

What are the other things you value? Perhaps you have children; they are important to you. You want to spend time with them and you want to provide for them. Here lies that word; balance. How can I be there for my kids and make a better living to pay for their education, activities and general needs?

Balance is a matter of deciding what the most important thing is at that moment and prioritizing it. We can spend our days planning how best to spend our days to complete our tasks or we could just list out what we value most and prioritize it. I am not saying don’t have a plan. I want to be clear; plan based on the value your time will bring. Here is a simple example.

I have a deadline at work and I have tickets to a performance to attend with my husband. Both have value, so how do I manage? I focus on getting the work done by eliminating the tasks that have less importance in my life. That may mean not making a nice dinner, rather ordering out. That may mean I don’t reconcile my checkbook that month. Whatever it is, I choose how to get both the work and the performance in the time I have.

Letting go of things that have less value, can allow you to find the time to achieve the things of value. These choices are part of life. Your life should be a serious of choices you make in the moment, based on what you gain. If you stay focused on what has value you will be able to balance. When you balance your life as one unit, you will find you are happier. Stop breaking your life into two pieces. Determine what matters most to you and make the right choice for that moment.

Words

The written word can be dangerous.  Your body language is not seen by the reader.  They can not see what your expression was when you were writing.  The words speak for you, and what they say, tells a story about you.  Grammar, spelling, and punctuation all matter.  What matters more is the choice of words.  What are you trying to communicate?  Are you clear?  Are you assuming that the reader knows your intention?  Do you know who is reading?

Today, what you write can go almost anywhere.  Look at me writing a blog.  I posted, and the next day, people I have never met have decided to follow me.  There is a responsibility to ensure that I don’t let my readers misinterpret my intentions.  It is my responsibility to be clear and concise.  I need to represent my true self and respect the reader’s time.

Do you represent yourself when you write an email?  Do you think about your reader at all when you write?  If you are writing a comment to a friend (i.e., Facebook) you have some freedom.  When you are writing an email at work you have a responsibility.  Do you proofread your email?  Do you save your emails as draft and re-read them after some time has passed?  Do you write in the heat of the moment?

Consider the damage you can do with just one email at work.  Forget about how poor grammar and spelling make you look to the reader.  Let’s focus on the intention of what you are communicating.  I can not tell you how many times people have read more into my emails than I ever intended.  Is it my fault that they read something more than what I wrote… yes it is.  I was not clear about my intentions.  Ah, does this mean I have to write long emails explaining every thought I have… no it does not.  I just need to be clear and concise.

Do I have the ultimate solution for you?  No, the only thing I can do is to make you aware.  To stay in the moment when you write.  To stay focused on what you are trying to communicate.  Be clear, concise and use your words carefully.  Be mindful!

P.S. My husband was kind enough to proofread this blog.  Even I have difficulty making sure what I write represents me well.  Thank you Frank!

I Begin…

I begin today on a new journey.  I have stated to many that I wish I could share what I have learned over the years.  There is little written about my profession as a software product manager, that is practical.  There is a lot of practical business advice; however, not always consistent.  So I pledge to start a blog as of today.  The subjects will vary across different aspects of business and its impact on our lives.  My only wish is to be of service to those that choose to read my blog.  I promise to reference all those who have helped me on my journey, so that you too can learn from them.

About me –  I have a BA in Accounting and an MBA in Finance; as many have done before me, my education was only a stepping stone for my career.  I began my real career working as a “Financial Systems Analyst” in 1990.  At that time the internet was not what we have today.  We were limited to networks and intranets.  I knew nothing about computer software, nor hardware, until I started this role.  I moved with the times; one of the primary software vendors I supported asked me to come work for them as a consultant.  Wow, this was new uncharted territory that I welcomed with open arms.  What an opportunity to learn about business and face new challenges daily.  I didn’t realize at the time that I have a talent to absorb new information and if I set my mind to it I can learn nearly anything to get the job done well.  A few years as a road warrior and I found another fork in the road.  This time to step into a start-up software company that used the internet to serve business end-users.  Of course all Enterprise software today uses the internet to some extent; however, in 2000 there were but a few.  This is when I started to work in the capacity of a software product manager.  No training provided, just learn on the job.  Boy have things changed in the last 15 years!

Over the course of my blogs, you will read about what I have learned over the last 15 years and I believe this will help you on your path.  Thank you for sharing in this new journey with me.