Take Your Time and Enjoy

So often in life we rush. We move quickly to fit as much into our day as possible, and ironically forget to appreciate the precious moments in between all the hustle. I’m such a victim to this harsh reality, and it’s time to slow down.

I realized recently as I was committing to another volunteer project, a half marathon training team with my girlfriends, and a few other things to add to the mix, I’m not taking on too much, but I am forgetting to slow down enough to enjoy the beauty in each individual opportunity. There are so many great things in life to enjoy, and it is possible – but we have to commit to the enjoyment. Whether it is time with family, discussions at work, a book to read, or conversations with friends, it all matters. We can spend quality time in each arena if we’re focused, not frantic.

I’ve been frantic for too long, worrying that I’m not getting it all done to the best of my ability. Well, face it sister – that’s okay. Just be present. Just engage positively. Just do your best in that moment, and it will all work out.

If you’re a type-A planner, organizer, and thinker of things on the horizon like I am, it becomes so easy to lose sight of what’s right here before us. It can be instinctive to focus too much on the finish line rather than on the mile we’re tackling in the moment. Yes, I need to start thinking in running terms if I’m going to make this half marathon thing happen…yikes!

When I look at my sweet little boys and see the joy in their eyes and the love they have for each experience they encounter, I realize how simply we can truly live our lives. We just need to focus on enjoying the bike ride, splashing in the pool, coloring outside the lines, and swinging for the fences with each pitch thrown our way. These guys live each moment with energy, passion, and the will to have simple and wonderful fun. They’re spontaneous, loving, and ready to run at any given moment.

So, let’s find our own ways to run, jump, and play. Let’s breathe in the happiness around us, focus on the now, and the rest will fall into place. We can still plan, think ahead, and take on projects and opportunities to enhance our own growth, as long as we find our balance and capture the joy that comes along with each day, embracing a few more of the moments that are here right now. Let’s just take our time and enjoy.

Giving

As we approach the close of a month filled with celebrations of great food, fun, loved ones, and time spent reflecting on what we’re thankful for, its important to not only be thankful, but to also embrace the spirt of giving. Whether we donated to a meaningful cause on #givingtuesday or found a way to simply enrich the lives of others, I hope we all made our distinct and impactful contributions.

As leaders in business, it’s important to think about giving daily. Let’s pay it forward and always aim to help others learn, grow, and achieve. Let’s prioritize the education and development process for our teams, and ensure everyone is set up with the tools and resources it takes to succeed. Let’s clearly communicate our support, so we can inspire those around us to do the same. When we give with our hearts and ingrain these actions into our daily lives, the spirit is contagious, and it naturally multiplies the good around us.

Seasonally, its everywhere, but the challenge becomes continuing this illuminating power of giving well beyond what we feel and see today. Taking action and making sure we embrace the spirit of giving in our daily lives is what truly makes a difference in our companies, our communities, and beyond. When we give each day, perhaps just starting with a little more intentional effort on teaching and opening doors for those right around us, we can inspire, support, and help everyone succeed.

Let’s give thanks to those who have invested in us, and think about how we’ll invest in others. Actions speak louder than words, so let’s take a moment to do the right thing and give with our hearts. Let’s give knowledge, give support, or just give a listening ear, and be fully present and intentional every day of the year.

Leadership First

Have you ever stopped to think about the real difference between management and leadership? It’s funny how so often we have jobs that are titled “Manager” of this or that, and it’s so far from how we should really be approaching our actual roles each day.

Maybe in the sense of process, it’s okay to be a manager. We can literally manage the steps, the details, the deadlines, and the line items on an excel grid that need to be accomplished to complete a task. If your job is transactional in every way, then go ahead – manage away.

If, however, your role is about relationships and working with others, the game changes. If what you do centers around interacting with people (and let’s be honest – most of us work with tons of people every day), then I challenge you to set down your management stick and pick up your leadership hat to transform how you do what you do. You and your team will thank you for it.

Do you ever find yourself just trying to knock things off your to-do list to get them off your back? Do you get to the office each morning (or worse yet, sit on your couch each night) and power through a load of emails that landed in your inbox in an attempt to get ahead for the day, rather than lag behind? In the essence of time, do you fire off one-line responses that, whether you know it or not, might get taken wildly out of context and come across as cold, rude, abrupt, or even angry with just a few short words? Do you ever find yourself justifying that behavior by saying things like, “Oh, please don’t ever take my emails to heart. I’m usually just pressed for time and trying to get back to you quickly.”

Yep. We’ve all done it, and we may start our day out feeling accomplished and on schedule, but who do we harm along the way? When you’re a true leader, relationships should always be your top priority. Before you sit back down at your desk and reply, take a moment to think about your response. You may want to consider the human element in all that you do. It’s not hand-holding or coddling, it’s being thoughtful and professional. Think about the people who work with you, and how your actions will impact their experience, and their future. Do you want your team to see your willingness to help them grow and learn, or to fear they might upset you and always be watching their backs? Do you want your peers to know you’re a team player who is eager to work together, not in opposition, to accomplish a greater goal? Do you want to show how you’re a thoughtful and strategic partner with a vision for the future growth of your company?

Be the good in what you do, and don’t be known as the one who tackles each day as a reactive and impulsive task-master. Think about the people you work with directly and indirectly, put those relationships first, and you’ll see engagement, development, and productivity skyrocket. Be thoughtful and careful with each word you use (written or spoken), because each individual word counts. You don’t have to take a lot of time to be thoughtful, but you do have to choose your approach wisely. Maybe sometimes it actually means picking up the phone (so old-fashioned, I know!), to embrace the human element and engage in conversation. Your spoken word may land very differently than your written word, no matter how many times you’ve put pen to paper and thought you got it right.

Leaders think about people first, not just process. When leaders elevate others, act respectfully, and put effort into their relationships, the processes falls into place and is the natural next step. It might take more effort, and maybe a little more time, but the ROI is unparalleled. Grow your team, your business, and your future by being a leader, not just a manager, no matter what title is written on your business card.