This month I focus on three recommendations I find myself giving over and over again. I feel strongly about these. You probably already know them; it might be time for a reminder.
The conversations you avoid today are the fires you will be putting out tomorrow
It’s so natural. We all do it. Avoid the hard conversations, that is. You see the issue clearly. You know you should start addressing it. But you don’t really want to deal with the fallout. You don’t want to be attacked. You don’t want to feel like you have just ruined someone’s day. You don’t want to discover that you may not be able to resolve this issue easily. I know; I have been there. So have most of my clients. This is why they have discovered the discipline of creating a list of the three conversations they need to have each week.
If you don’t step away from the work; you’ll be trampled
This is the hardest thing about doing work you are committed to. This is the hardest thing about working in an institution that desperately needs you and all you have to offer. This is the hardest thing about managing people. The demands are endless. There is never enough time. And the expectations are so high—from the people you serve, from your board, from yourself. You have to set limits. You have to take time to exercise, to have dinner with your family, to read a book or take a walk or do any number of things that have nothing to do with your work and happen from away from your office.
Be yourself but don’t take it personally
This is a little complicated and paradoxical but important. On the one hand, you need to show up at work and be as wholly and authentically you as you can be. Your values, your humor, your style—these are the tools of your success. And yet, when you are on the receiving end of criticism and complaints, when things go wrong and the buck stops with you—it is not a referendum on your worth as a human being! Absolutely check in with yourself and own responsibility if you messed up. That is not what I am talking about. If you are sucked into the vortex of self-recrimination (or worse: righteous indignation), you are not going to be responding in the best interest of the institution.
If these practices are already part of your routine—hats off to you. Now teach them to others. If not, try them. Please?