March 10, 2015

Learning

Posted in Learning tagged at 7:25 PM by Solutions2Projects, LLC

I am driven to learn and grow more out of fear than a desire to change. I fear mediocrity, complacency, becoming redundant, and dying (from flying). I am rarely disappointed when I take on a new education challenge and often get something unexpected out of it. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in a number of learning experiences recently and move beyond my fear.

One of my best friends invited me to attend a seminar for female entrepreneurs in SF (Grow at the Well). Typically I am not a fan of these events as they provide more hype than substance. The speakers were interesting but both of us felt that their stories were not entirely relevant to us. We are both opportunists and concentrated on finding the hidden gems in the stories and the overall experience (besides a day in SF together) and came away with a few. On our way home, we talked about what we had gotten out of the day and how we could apply various things to our own businesses and provided each other with some valuable insight. This was by far the most beneficial part of the day. We had made space for the discussion using the events of the day as a springboard for the conversation. That was truly a luxury and extremely rewarding (and unplanned).

Another friend encouraged me to check out coursera.org for some free, online classes. I figured this was a low risk endeavor and opted to take a class on philosophy in business. The presenter was very good (and French which is always a plus), the topic interesting if not directly relevant, but the course structure was by far the most intriguing of all. I am now curious to see how other service providers structure their online courses and if this can be a place for me to offer IT project/IT strategy related education courses. In this particular case, I got out of the learning something totally unexpected…a service offering opportunity.

Currently, I am working towards my commercial helicopter rating. In March 2009, I achieved a private rating and over the years, I managed to narrow the scope and frequency of my flying so much that I didn’t feel as safe or as competent as I would have liked. Giving up flying was not an option so I needed to find a way to be a better and safer pilot (flying is a hobby after all and I need to mitigate the risks). I opted to pursue my commercial rating as I need a quantifiable goal and ‘being better’ was far too subjective.

This has required time hitting the books preparing for the written exam and time in the helicopter refining skills and developing new ones. As it was with my private, it’s been a lot of hard work but well worth the effort. I am weeks away from my check ride (which also requires book time and flight time), with the written exam and the required hours under my belt, but that seems almost unnecessary at this point. The goal was to become a better and safer pilot (as I have to remind myself) and at this point, that goal has been achieved and I am much more confident in my abilities in the cockpit (the commercial rating will be an added bonus of course). The confidence that I have gained through this process is pervasive and has been an unexpected pleasure.

I recently participated in a legal continuing education webinar on SaaS contracts with another best friend who is an attorney. We watched it together (yes there was wine involved) which was really great because she was able to provide the legal perspective and I was able to provide her with a practical, IT perspective. Oddly enough, it was a lot of fun. The topic was of interest to both of us as we both had significant experience with these types of contracts. I most appreciated all of the things that reinforced what I had been doing and also appreciated the new nuggets of knowledge that I can apply with the next contract review and negotiations. No certificate suitable for framing or degree required to benefit from (or reward) the experience.

Far too often we get so caught up in our daily activities or projects that we forget to see what else is out there to expand our knowledge, adjust our perspectives, reinforce what we do know, highlight areas of opportunity, and leverage existing and valuable resources.

So, take some time out of your busy schedule to enlighten your brain and enrich your life. You don’t know what is out there (or in you) until you take the time.

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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.

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.