It’s hard to take time for yourself when the calendar is full, but I’m learning that might be the perfect time to do so.
Recently, Rachel and I took an online course on self-compassion from experts Kristin Neff – if you’ve ever heard anyone referencing self-compassion, it was likely her! – and Chris Germer. They have been working together since 2010.
We didn’t have an extra 12 hours in our schedule, but making time for that course was worth it. We want to be the best human beings and project managers that we can be. We accomplish this by learning, growing, and expanding our thinking.
In late October, the Project Management Institute asked its Twitter followers to scare a project manager in five words or less.
The answers were creative and relatable, but one stuck out: Don’t define roles and responsibilities.
Yikes! That would certainly scare me.
Clarifying roles and responsibilities for people is necessary to achieve project success. I don’t want to work with a team or group that thinks this level of detail isn’t required. Taking the time to define this is critical, yet we repeatedly run into situations where people don’t recognize the importance of this step or don’t know how to do it.
It can be hard to ask for help.
We have been programmed to believe that strength is individual, that asking for help is a sign of weakness.
This mentality, however, deprives us of the power that can come from working together, instead of alone.
At Reach Partners, we have observed that good leaders recognize that they can’t do everything alone.
We’ve seen that the best leaders take that one step further; they know how to ask for exactly what they need while empowering others to contribute.
Here’s how that played out recently:
When a team invites Reach Partners to join them, we’re asked to provide focus on a project. Even if the team members work side-by-side each day, they often need help with the pace of the project – the way a project’s progress moves forward.
Different than a timeline or milestones, pacing is about understanding when to pause or slow down and when to speed ahead. Every milestone in a project’s plan deserves its own sense of pace.
There’s a common saying that fences make good neighbors.
The underlying assumption is that people get along better when there is separation, that relationships need defined space.
Our best work happens when people break down those fences and come together. We believe that collaboration leads to the best ideas and the best path forward. We know from experience that we can do more together than alone.
We talk a lot about communication. Mostly because it’s hard to do well, and it helps to keep stakeholders on the same page. But there’s something else that motivates us.
Identifying the audience is one of the biggest challenges we face in communicating well. Who needs to hear a message? What do they need to know? When do they need to know it?
Communication influences how an audience perceives a project or event.
How and when you present a message is as important as the words or images you choose to share. Apply empathy and take time to figure out what your audience needs to know.
Like many of you, we’ve taken these last days of 2021 to plan for 2022. No, we don’t have a list of resolutions for the new year, but we do have some goals – and even a list of some dreams (fingers-double-crossed!).
As we look forward, we find it’s helpful to look back. We know from 20 years of experience and the uncertainty of the past two years that being nimble and reflective can lead us to a better future.
So, in that spirit, here are three posts from the past year that we think will inspire, or at least give you something to think about, as we move into the new one.
May you enjoy the holiday season!
This year, Reach Partners celebrates 20 years.
That’s countless hours of coordinating events, gathering people in conversation, helping work get done, communicating key messages, training volunteers, facilitating meetings, pushing and encouraging, staying within budget, outlining the scope, staying up late, waking up early, making mistakes, asking forgiveness, and making right the mistakes we made.
As we celebrate this milestone, we recognize that we are who we are largely because of the values that we uphold and practice. We are intentional about how we do our work and who we do it with. This has led us to the best partners a business could ask for and we are immensely grateful for that.
So, in honor of our anniversary, we want to reflect on a few moments from the past two decades that speak to our values. Of course, there are so many more moments than we have space for, but here is a sampling:
I’ve always enjoyed reading, and I’ve become a better reader thanks to my book club. Armed with their encouragement and suggestions, I read a larger array of genres. I’ve also learned that I like to listen to audible books checked out through the library, a habit that recently led me to listen to Matthew McConaughey’s book, Greenlights.
It was okay, maybe even good. I listened to the book at normal speed the entire time, which is telling. That’s usually how I start an audiobook, but not how I end it. I either speed it up, wanting it to end soon or slow the tempo, wanting to bask in a text’s poetic beauty.
Still, let’s face it, it wasn’t a bad deal to have Matthew talk to me during drive time. Memoirs are not my favorite genre but I have found that I don’t get bored if it doesn’t follow a chronological order of the person’s life but tells stories centered around themes.
But the part of the book that sticks with me is when McConaughey shared this observation: “If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges – how to get relative with the inevitable – you can enjoy a state of success I call ‘catching greenlights.’”
I hate puzzles.
Maybe it’s because I’ve always been frustrated by them.
I remember once, as a child, trying to finish the puzzle of a hot air balloon. It was beautiful: a brilliant blue sky and the balloon was distinguished with bright colors of the rainbow. But it took forever to complete. The puzzle sat on the dining room table and I heard my mom tell more than one guest that they needed to place a piece before they left.
I might have passed on my dislike of puzzles to my kids. One Christmas, I had a photo of the two of them turned into a puzzle. The pieces sat in a box for nearly two years before I made myself put it together. The puzzle wasn’t complicated; it was 25 pieces. But it wasn’t easy and certainly not fun. I threw it away.
During the pandemic, I watched friends on Facebook safely exchange puzzles as their families used time together to puzzle (is puzzle even a verb?!). Yuck. Not me. Not my family.
And yet, I solve puzzles at work all the time. Every time I piece together details of an event or a project, it’s a puzzle. Only recently did I figure out the difference.