September 20, 2012

Chickens and Change

Posted in General tagged , , , at 1:05 PM by Solutions2Projects, LLC

When you wake up at 5:45 AM to the sound of screeching chickens and realize that you forgot to put the chickens into the coop the night before and raccoons have discovered this oversight, perhaps it is an omen for what the day will become. 

I should have counted my blessings (after counting the chickens) and called it a day. 

But, no, I opted to feed the four girls some special treats, apologize profusely to them, rake up the feathers from the lawn to minimize the evidence (thank goodness they have multiple layers), and spend an hour catching up on the blogs and news sites I subscribe to on Pulse.  Not necessarily an uplifting experience with all of the sour financial news and political acrimony but educational nonetheless. 

By the time my daughter climbed into bed to cuddle with me at close to 7 and my husband delivered my daily cappuccino, I felt ready to face the day and whatever challenges and opportunities were going to present themselves.

Today has been a day filled with challenges (which of course always offer up opportunities for growth and learning).  I’ve decided that any instrument that is connected to a PC with a USB to RS-232 serial cable needs to be scrapped!

When a series of things do not go right in a period of time, and after I’ve attempted to force my way through said issues, at some point I come to the conclusion that perhaps perseverance is not what is required.  Perhaps it is time to step back and look at the situation from a different perspective to get a better sense of what is really going on.

That’s usually when I go flying or out for a run or hit a tennis ball really hard.  When that doesn’t work, I call my executive coach.  Sometimes I get too caught in the trees and need someone else to look at the situation from their vantage point in order to adjust my own frame.  Sometimes it’s just a tweak and other times, what’s required is a paradigm shift. 

The universe provides me with nudges or gentle reminders that may or may not go unnoticed.  After a while, the universe gets a bit impatient and provides some less subtle reminders.  While the chickens were a gentle nudge, a number of other not so subtle hints have been coming my direction and I’ve been noodling over them. 

It seems somewhat appropriate that now that I’ve been consulting for seven years (applies to marriages and other aspects of life it seems) it may be time to look in a new direction professionally…nothing so drastic as quitting my job to stay home with kids and be PTA president (we’ll leave that to my husband) but perhaps a different industry or a different type of consulting, leveraging my 20+ years of professional experience. 

So what started as a day filled with screeches and feathers has turned into a time for reflection (in between failed protocol tests).  Well, universe, I am just about ready…just let me get the feathers out of my hair.

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August 23, 2012

Filters

Posted in General, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 9:44 AM by Solutions2Projects, LLC

Last year I took my son to a leadership training program for kids presented by Jim Wiltens.  Jim offers corporate and academic programs (per his website) and we had the opportunity to participate in a four week parent/child program at a local school.  The program was on Wednesday nights from 6:30-8:30 which was pretty tough after a long day at work and I often felt that while there was some good material in the program, that it was a sales pitch for his summer camp for kids in the High Sierras (which appeared to work as my son did attend a two week session this summer).

One of the things he covered during the class had to do with filters.  No, not camera filters or pool filters but the filters through which we observe things that happen and pass us by in life.  Jim encouraged the kids (and parents) to write down all of the things they want to do in their lives, both big and small, and create what one might morbidly call a bucket list.

The reason for this was that when you write something down it becomes more concrete and real.  And by doing so, you start to pay attention to things in life a bit differently.  Where you might not have noticed something before, you now might notice it because you have adjusted your filters.

We’ve all heard the example of when you buy a new car, let’s say a red BMW, all of a sudden you notice all of the red BMWs out on the road.  Or when you are expecting a child, all of a sudden all you see are pregnant women and babies.  This is because your filters have changed.

While my son wrote down his list in a brand new journal as part of his assignment, unfortunately, he hasn’t revisited the list to remind himself of what he wanted to do.  I, on the other hand, have revisited my list to remind myself and keep my filters adjusted.  It is so easy to fall back into complacency and the day to day routine and forget about other things you want to do.

So, give it a try.  Start writing down some of your dreams, no matter how big or small, in a journal or your iPhone.  Revisit the list daily or weekly (without stress or pressure) and see what starts to appear.  Perhaps you notice a posting for a French tutor at a local coffee shop or learn about an apartment in Paris not advertised through normal channels…things you wouldn’t have noticed if you hadn’t written down a goal to live in Paris for an extended period of time.   Á bientôt!

January 26, 2012

Change of Scene

Posted in Project Management tagged , , , at 7:45 AM by Solutions2Projects, LLC

A change of scene offers us the opportunity to look at things from a different perspective which allows us to see what we may not have noticed before.  Seeing it differently can offer up new opportunities or solutions or even eliminate roadblocks or obstacles.  It can also help us to appreciate our original scene. 

 A change of scene requires us to get our of our comfort zone.

 Yesterday I was forced out of my (latest) normal routine of writing some blogs and doing some online marketing from the comfort of my couch, with my dog cramping my laptop, after the kids have left for school (much like I am doing today).  From the comfort of my living room, I have found myself staring outside at the birds and squirrels, listening to the dog snore, without writing a word for a period of time.  It’s been comfortable but not always productive.

 But yesterday I had to leave the house for an hour before an appointment and I went to a local coffee shop.  I got more than a buzz from the super caffeinated Mexican coffee.  I ran into a friend and had a discussion that gave me the inspiration for yesterday’s blog.  The writing flowed so easily, I finished it in less than 15 minutes (and not because of the caffeine).  

 All it took was leaving a comfortable spot and moving to a different one to get an idea that would not have surfaced if I hadn’t moved. 

 This is one of the things I like best about consulting.  While I’ve enjoyed the comfort of working with a particular client on and off for over six years (with other clients at the same time and in between), I’ve also enjoyed the challenges associated with starting new projects at new client sites.  I can take what I’ve learned at one client and apply it at another client (both what works and what doesn’t work).  It also forces me to be flexible as all companies have different cultures, processes and people that require different approaches.  I can refine my processes or try a new approach at a new client without them knowing that I am trying something new.  I might get resistance at an existing client.   

 I am in between projects right now and this too is a change of scene for me.  My workaholic / jam packed schedule routine is thrown off and there are days that I have no scheduled appointments.  Talk about uncomfortable!  What I have been given during this time is the opportunity to stand back and evaluate what works and doesn’t work in my life, both professionally and personally.  It is a welcome and unwelcome gift that I do not want to squander as I can establish some new and healthier habits and practices that will make me a more effective consultant and a happier person. 

 I’ve already started asking myself some questions about what I want to be doing differently, what I want to do more of, and what things could look like if I change things up a bit.  I don’t have any answers yet but without the change in scene, I wouldn’t even have the opportunity to ask them.

January 23, 2012

Lightening the Load

Posted in General tagged , at 7:26 AM by Solutions2Projects, LLC

I love beginnings.  It can be the beginning of the year, project, friendship, journal or blank page.  Every beginning allows me to start over and do something better than the last time.  At the beginning, life is uncluttered. At the beginning, I am filled with hope and optimism and I love that feeling. 

 Since it is the beginning of a new year I felt compelled to start afresh with a modified attitude toward things, people and habits that don’t add value in my life.  This year it is all about lightening the load. 

 This year will be the year I

  • learn how to say ‘no’ to things that do not contribute to my overall goals and objectives
  • stop wishing for things that will never be,  accept them for situations as they are, or take action to turn them into what I want them to be
  • streamline processes
  • eliminate material objects that are taking up space and weighing me down
  • focus on the little things that add pleasure to my life

 These apply both personally and professionally and will be the focus of the year.  It will be hard as the newness of the beginning transitions into the day to day reality of applying my new mantra.  It is time to eliminate the toxic thoughts, people, and things in my life. Change is hard.  Acceptance is hard.  But it will be worth it. 

 With each new beginning there will be an end.  And with each end there will be a loss which must be acknowledged to be able to move forward effectively.  For the most part I look forward to saying ‘good riddance’ to the outdated, unused, unnecessary, and unhealthy and ‘welcome’ to the light, positive, fruitful, and beneficial.  We can all benefit from throwing off the extra baggage and lightening the load.

January 17, 2012

Change is Hard

Posted in Project Management tagged , , at 7:30 AM by Solutions2Projects, LLC

My dad often said that if it weren’t for the clients and employees, his job would be perfect.  The same could be held true with regards to project management.  The system implementation from a technical perspective isn’t hard; it’s managing the people and expectations that is most difficult. 

 We all know change is hard.  We also know it is necessary to grow and move forward.  Why do some of us resist it even when we know intellectually it is good for us?

 I know that from my project experience employees are afraid.  In their minds are a series of questions, especially if they haven’t gone through the process before.  Will I still have a job?  Will I be able to do my job?  What if someone finds out I don’t know what I am doing?  What if someone wants more from me than I can do or that I want to do?  I am comfortable with my discomfort; why do I need to change anything?

 I find that getting affected people (team members, employees, stakeholders) to talk about these issues (externalize rather than internalize) acts as a release valve and reduces the fright associated with the unknown.  We also discuss the benefits associated with the change and acknowledge the discomfort associated with the uncertainty.  This doesn’t happen just once and is an ongoing process throughout the project and through the adoption phase after Go Live.  If users don’t use the system and continue to follow old practices, the implementation cannot be considered a success.

 As project managers we are always managing…people, tasks, expectations, constraints.  How we help the people in the organization adjust to the change is a major factor in determining the success of the project.