Monday, February 19, 2018

Life- it’s not just one appointment after the other!

I decided a few years ago that my life was simply a series of appointments, just like work.
If I was able to simply ‘book things in’ then I could keep my entire life in check.  That works most of the time BUT, not all.  The reason I am typing this blog today is that I am struggling to type anything without miss-firing.  I can’t even eat my lunch without spilling it down the front of me! 

My life is a series of lots of different jobs, from taking Pilates classes, running my IT Company, to managing my commercial property to business consulting work and of course looking after Connor full-time- the 17 year old fantastic teenager who is on the Autism Spectrum.

This morning, I scheduled my life to fit beautifully.  I had to relieve a Pilates class in Epsom from 9-10 and then at 11 I had to be at the Skin specialist for a mole removal at 11.  I had scheduled to be back in the office at 12, where I would have lunch while catching up on my email and writing up some more material on the consulting contract I had as well as what the team had been up to in the morning, I then had a 3pm meeting for Connor which would take the rest of the afternoon.  On the side I am also renovating a bathroom so calls from trades to manage among all of this.
Ahh- scheduling bliss.  I always feel proud when everything just fits!
So I taught the Pilates class at the physio clinic and drove off to my appointment, making my phone calls on the hands free on the way.  Go there early so started doing some emails.  11am rolled around and I walked into the skin clinic.  The Dr looked at the funny thing on my arm and said ‘that looks different to the last time I saw you’, I said yes, it changes a bit.  I then said- so what is it?  The last time I asked him he simply said he did not know.  This time he said – ‘I think it’s a colorless Melanoma’.  Great.  Just what I needed.  I went into the surgical room and they cut it out. He asked me to have a look.  I looked and couldn’t believe that he took such a huge chunk out of my arm for such a small mole.  They bandaged my arm from wrist to elbow and then said- you’ll need Panadol for pain- every 4-6 hours.  Yikes- this is going to ruin my plans!

As I walked out of the clinic, I realized three things.  The first was that my arm was going to be way sorer than I thought, the second was this was going to screw up my perfectly scheduled day as I could barely open the door handle of my car.  But the third thing was really going to throw me- my focus was shot.  I Melanoma.  Great.  I’ve still not gotten over the fact I have bowel polyps growing in me that I will be on a life long removal journey for and now this.  What even is a colorless melanoma?  I know I will have to wait 10 days for the biopsy results, but I’m sure they would not tell me that I have a melanoma unless they were reasonably sure. 

So here I am, looking at my perfectly scheduled day, realizing that even the best of us get slowed down and our day supposedly ‘ruined’ due to looking after our own health.  If anything comes out of this blog it’s to start treating your health as more than just an appointment built into your busy day.  Take the time to reflect and understand why you are even going to the medical appointment- because you have chosen to look after yourself so you can perform for your workplace, your family and your friends, but most importantly for yourself. Give yourself the time after the appointment to re-group and be the best you can be to all in your life, not a mess in your next appointment!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Equality through opportunity - How would your staff describe you?

A staff member recently gave me a quote I needed for a submission for an article about how I work. He told me I promote 'equality through opportunity'.  I loved that phrase, it really summaries how I work and who I am as a person. I was really proud that this is the feeling/ image I portray.  I wrote it on a post-it note and look at it everyday which prompted this post.

I certainly would not have said that about myself say 10 years ago. As I've understood more about what makes me tick and what makes others tick, I've been able to change the way I approach things.

Dealing with students over the past years has allowed me more to understand what fragile beings we are at this part of our career.  I have also witnessed the Autistic/ Asperger's 17 year old whom I care-give for go through 15 jobs in just over 12 months, more than I have had in a life-time!

I've come to realise, that all we really want as humans is to be given the opportunity to succeed.  This is not the success that our employers or family may want, but succeed in our our definition of success.  What I've come to realize is that most of us define success by having material things or by having a label- such as a job title or achieving a qualification which labels us even more.  

The 17 year-old I care-give for can't stand labels.  In fact I've observed him recently when being asked about his new job, simply describe the successes he has had at work, rather than the company name or what his job title is.  He would say "I've been trenching sports-fields and golf-courses".  When asked who for and what his actual job was- he could not even tell the person he was speaking to the company name or his proper job title.  I was astounded.  The fact that he has been working on a multi-million dollar upgrade of one of Auckland's most exclusive golf courses didn't even feature....that is until I dropped that into the conversation.  Then it hit me.  success is not or should not be about labels.  If we simply understood what peoples 'life success criteria' actually were, we might be able to provide employees and colleagues and friends with the opportunities to better reach their own personal success goals.  

I certainly believe that if we provide the foundations for opportunity to succeed to all employees, we will not only provide opportunity for their own success, but also a better form of equality in the work place.  I provide a diverse working environment, I have had people in my work place with mental health conditions, totally different ethnic back-grounds and cultures, however they are all treated the same and all held accountable for their work, this creates opportunity for them to succeed on a level playing field and makes them feel important and valued.  I do also take the time to meet with the team individually and work through their own SWOT analysis, this is also a vital step I undertake with students- who often have no idea where they are at in this regard.  In short, people need to understand people as people and their feelings and motivations are what makes our world exist.

Late in 2017, I had fantastic feedback from an Intern about his success criteria, which I found out was actually making his grandmas dream come true.  For years our team have voted on who is the Star performer of the month, again, they define what THEY see as success in a star performer.  We all get one vote, including management.  This particular intern WON the BMW Convertible for use for the month.  He was so happy.  He took the car home and with the top down, took his Grandma for a ride.  He told me it was one of his proudest moments.  This intern was from India and had lost his Mum in child-birth, he was also a twin.  His grandma had raised him and his brother.  Her dream was to ride in a convertible.  He did this through our process- opportunity through equality.  He won the car because the TEAM defined who was successful and in doing so, he realised his own success criteria- to make his grandmas dreams come true, through his hard work.

So when we think of our corporate worlds, I think back to the number of  times I have seen people passed up on opportunity due to 'office politics' because 'management have decided'..  Some of our largest multi-nationals are full of this culture.  I've seen people in these companies fall apart completely as they strive to hit the 'companies success goals', with the company not giving a dam about the individuals personal success criteria.  
Just imagine hoe different our work places would be if we stopped and asked our employees what their individual success criteria were?  Are you providing opportunity for them to succeed in this space or are you just driving them to meet your own goals at the detriment of their own?

For the record, when I sit and think about my own life success criteria, this is what I come up with - in no particular order:-

- providing the time and environment for the 17 year old Autistic boy I care-give for to meet his own success goals.
- providing a home for my family that is comfortable and loving
- ensuring my own health & wellness is a priority - putting this first, rather than my career
- doing something to grow my own knowledge and helping others at the same time
- having the financial stability to choose my work quantity and have this flexible enough to work around my primary goals.
- ensuing young talent in NZ is fostered and opportunity is provided for them to be expressive through entrepreneurship, support and opportunity to meet their own goals 
- feeling good about my work helping others succeed through watching them learn and succeed.

My challenge to you is to give yourself 15 minutes to try and write out your own life succeed criteria.  Take these, then think about how your life is designed.  Have your Designed Your Life to meet your own success criteria, or are you on a different path?  Something to ponder on!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

She's a very busy executive you know

A mentoring programme come through a linked-in feed this afternoon and landed right at the top of by inbox.  Sheer curiosity made me open it.  I read through and though, why not, even a mentor can be mentored, right?

So I sent the email.  I had a couple of responses back and I specifically asked how I could contact the lady who had made it her goal to Mentor 100 Woman led Cloud based business start-ups in 2018.

I have spent the past year balancing my start-up, selling my commercial property, working in my IT business as CEO, going through pre-cancerous polyp removal from my bowel, working in my fitness business and I took on the full-time care-giving for an Autistic 17 year old in March last year, I run a weekly walking group and I also do voluntary unpaid mentoring of young entrepreneurs and students, plus I am renovating a house as well as dealing with repairs to my house from the Autistic meltdowns that have resulted in holes in my walls.

The response I got was horrifying "she's a very busy executive you know'.  I was so annoyed.  Right, and I'm not busy.  I found the time to send an email as I thought it was something I could do for myself.

I decided that if I do ever hear back, (which sounds like it will be unlikely), that I will say no.  Clearly to start a relationship by saying how busy you are is no way to show me you will ever have time to mentor me, or that I will feature as important to the mentor.

I get so annoyed when people state they will 'give back' when they don't know the true meaning of it and they simply do it to gain a better image or qudos.

I have mentored for 10 years and have spent probably thousands of hours volunteering my time for the health and well being of others rather than myself.

Next time you tell someone 'you are too busy', I challenge you to think how you would feel if someone said that to you!   Stay busy, but never start a relationship by stating you are!