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.
’Tis the season for one more thing – one more cookie, one more gathering, one more decoration, gift, or craft.
It’s tough being human. We have a lot of wants to manage in a mere 24 hours. In a season of lots of wants, we get to navigate our priorities to help us make decisions. How do we do it?
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.
At some point, nearly every organization needs to hire an outside vendor or consultant.
Maybe you need help with accounting or a website redesign. Maybe you need someone to help you organize an upcoming event; or maybe you need someone to lead your team training.
Whatever you need, be sure to seek a partner – and not just a vendor or a consultant.
What’s the difference?
It starts with intent.
You’ve probably heard the Chinese proverb: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Another way to think about it: all big and complex things start with a simple step forward.
In many situations, however, that first step might not be so simple.
You likely have your own personal list of to-dos that have been gnawing at you for what seems like forever. For whatever reason, you keep procrastinating and pushing them to the back burner.
That tendency is multiplied when you consider projects that require a team or collaborative approach. Maybe you have a list of projects that you want finished, but you never seem to have the time, energy, or organization to move them forward.
At Reach Partners we’ve seen projects fail to launch or stall because a successful start was an obstacle. Starting is harder than it looks.
We want to be the best human beings we can be. We strive to be transformed, so we read.
We read books about leadership, personal growth, and business. We appreciate lovely fiction and poetry. We read because it’s one way we can grow and empathize with others, to see the world and our actions from a different point of view.
Essentially, we read to be better human beings who will do good work with other good humans.
The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality and systemic racism (which we’ve benefited from) remind us that there is still much more we need to learn and understand. More than ever, we need to keep listening and learning from our Black friends, partners and neighbors.
Whenever we plan an event, an in-depth meeting, a social gathering, or virtual experience Reach Partners will always argue for the same thing. Every time.
This thing is the most important detail for every planned interaction. It is the life blood of our work and what drives us to do better every day. Most importantly it’s the power, the energy that fuels the work at hand.
How do you tap into this energy? How do you make it work for you? Draw the right audience? Craft the right marketing activities? Align stakeholders? Create value?
You start by defining purpose.
C.S. Lewis once said that integrity is doing what is right even when nobody is watching. We like that definition, and we like our own interpretation: Integrity means we do what we say we are going to do.
At Reach Partners, we don't make empty promises to make our partners and ourselves feel good. We follow through. And we enjoy working with partners who do the same. We value integrity; here are some ways we do:
When we moved into our new office space (across the hall from our previous location) last summer, something felt familiar.
I couldn’t exactly put my finger on what or why. I had visited the space when it was inhabited by another company, but I hadn’t spent a lot of time in there. Yet, I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that something significant had taken place in the very spot where I now work.
And then I had my ah-ha moment: My office used to be Tony’s office. You see, Tony’s work experiences have made me pause and reflect on work life at Reach Partners.
Tony was a long-term employee who worked with this other company in our building. Several years ago she requested one day off – July 10.
I recognize that granting vacation requests or personal days off can be complicated. But from what I understand about this business’s industry, mid-July wasn’t a busy time of the year. From what I knew about Tony, she was hard working and committed.
I don’t know why Tony asked for the day off, but it didn’t matter. Her boss said no. In response, Tony put in her two-weeks’ notice and left the company.
I’m sure denying the request for a day off wasn’t the only reason Tony left, but it certainly was the last straw for her.
Yes, there are rules and employee handbooks to follow. There are good reasons, as an employer, to have policies in place. There also are situations where employers and employees have to make hard choices. For example, I took off less time after my second child was born than I did when my first child arrived. Rachel once chose to fly from Minneapolis to Bismarck so she could attend a family wedding and fulfill a client obligation over the same weekend.
As at any company, Reach Partners always tries to balance the responsibilities of work with the responsibilities of personal life. Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes it’s not. Still, we believe our team is happier, healthier, and more productive when we trust our people to make decisions about their time.
Never do I want to run the kind of company that isn’t willing to consider an employee’s request for personal time. Tony’s company lost an experienced employee. I still wonder if her boss regrets his decision to deny her a day off.
In honor of Tony, we have observed July 10 as a Reach Partners holiday for several years.
This year, Tony’s Day Off will be held a day early because of some scheduling conflicts. That’s okay. What’s important is that we take a day off and recognize that sometimes the best policy is showing a little empathy and trust.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an updated version of a post that ran July 7, 2015.
In case you hadn’t noticed, we LOVE the color purple.
Since we began, our Reach Partners identity has been represented by shades of the color. We think purple perfectly represents our values of gratitude, integrity, beauty, possibility, and empathy. Plus, it makes a powerful, but accessible statement.