Monday, June 18, 2018

Father’s Day 2018


“I will leave it up to you boys.”  That was not the answer I expected from my Dad.  The question, to put his words into context, was “Where do you want to celebrate Father’s Day?”  We had a few options, but the answer was simple. 

I have been a father now for 23+ years.  With the birth of Gab, my status changed and a new journey began.  The truth is, it has been a gratifying experience to be a father and I have been blessed with two wonderful children.  It is funny to have an official day set aside to celebrate all fathers (same goes with Mother’s Day), since I am a grateful Dad every day.  As a parent, I am happy to be remembered by my children and still enjoy when they come to me with questions, insight or accomplishments.  Debbie and I have worked towards being the best parents that we can be and the fact that our girls still love to hang out with is a testament to that.  For me, I still feel like every day is Father’s Day.

As a child, along with my brothers, we have been getting together to celebrate this day every year.  It is interesting to note, that as I have gotten older, the way I approach this day has changed.  No longer do I buy my dad a tie (he no longer wears them), or color a picture for him (I am sure he would still look at it).  Regardless of the day to celebrate, I do not wait until this one day to honor my dad.  And while I age, the time spent together might not be all the time, the time we do spent together is important.   

In thinking about my father’s response, I realize that one of the most precious things that each of us has to give is our time.  My dad’s response reflects this as it does not matter where we are, where we go or what we do, as long as we spend that time together as a family.  In the end, time together is the most precious gift…

Monday, June 11, 2018

Preparedness


I recently had the chance to talk to some people about some future thoughts and heard the comment made, “that is preparedness.”  Sometimes it takes an event, a word or a phrase to send my mind thinking in a different direction.  Preparedness and the future do go hand in hand.  Webster’s Dictionary defines the word preparedness as “the fact of being ready for something: the state of being prepared.”  How well do we in fact take the steps to prepare for the future?  I do not mean set goals and then strive for them, but actually sit down and lay out the possible scenarios that lie before us, such that, we are prepared for whatever direction our path takes us?

There is an exercise I have gone through with planning projects, which is to identify the risks and the hurdles to success.  These were not excuses for failure but the opportunity to take a step back and realistically evaluate the environment the project exists in, the business factors, the resources available and the time requirements by management.  With multiple factors involved, presentation of the plan is always based on the optimal potential outcome.  However, the risk and hurdles do need to be mentioned up front and continuously throughout the project.  New requirements appear, new business practices are desired and change in resource timelines mean that being prepared is always an ongoing process and the ability to communicate the impact of the change in the environment is required so that everyone involved understands the impact to the project. 

While it is easy for me to put this in project management terms, the same holds true for being prepared for activities in our homes (weekend projects do not just happen), volunteer work (time is important) and social events (last minute does not always work).  Even something as simple as a house party requires preparedness, especially in terms of weather, food, number of people, how to occupy children, etc.  We have had a number of parties over time and only once did we have threatening weather.  We knew who to call for tents, modified the music setup (yes, our band is the house band), and food changes.  While this can be mistaken as work, it is important in most areas of our lives to be prepared for whatever comes our way.  As author Peter Benchley put it, “Fascinations breeds preparedness, and preparedness, survival.”  Be fascinated with the life before you and then you will be prepared for most of what comes your way.

Monday, June 4, 2018

To Change or Not to Change


Change comes to everyone, whether we want it or not.  At home, at our place of business, the things we touch and the things that we do.  Whether we are in times of transition or not, the world around us is constantly in a state of change.  As a project manager, previously a consultant, change was and is a part of what I do.  To be honest, it is easier to take a step back and guide others through the process, because I have spent time reviewing, analyzing and planning for the journey leading to the change event.  Sometimes in my “world,” I am in the middle of the swirl of events and have not taken the time to step back and realize that a change is happening. 

As there are changes that I am facing (which are continuous), there are some things that I have come to realize.  I can group these things into three basics areas – signs of change, refusing to change and the challenges of change.

Signs of change:

  • Things happening in the world around us:  A generation or two ago, there was a mass exodus of families from the cities moving to the suburbs.  Similarly, today many young adults have decided to move into more urban areas.  This has an impact on how we conduct business and volunteer/religious organizations.
  • Events occurring in our lives: How many of us are within 5 – 10 years of a lifecycle change, whether children, grandchildren, parents or ourselves?  This effects our pocket as well as can cause significant changes to our households.
  • Impact of technology: How much of the business world has changed with the growth of Amazon?  Or, remember a few years ago when a familiar Microsoft document with an “x” appended to the file type that they could no longer open.  Technology impacts how we communicate, how we handle business, and potentially, how we run our households.
  • Customers are not interested:  What we offer is no longer what others desire.  This can impact personal, business and religious factors.


Signs of refusing change:

  • Manufacturing excuses:  When faced with making a change, we find an excuse for not moving forward, primarily by making up reason to avoid, delay or deflect facing what is staring us directly in the face.
  • History becomes our favorite topic:  Our favorite way to not face reality is to reminisce about past achievements from a different time or a different place.  Whether or not it is relevant to today, we look back on the golden days, sometimes forgetting the struggles and efforts we went through to attain that point in time.
  • Putting on the blinders:  We just plainly ignore the reality that is going on around us.  This can sometimes lead to the reference of sticking one’s head in the sand, like an ostrich, so as not to see the truth.
  • Not me syndrome:  Change is for someone else, but not for me.  Historically, we have seen the impact to groups of people thinking it is someone else’s problem and not them.  Many organizations have not survived due to this.
  • Feelings of contentment: “I am where I want to be”


Challenges of change:

  • Opening eyes:  Help others to see the world as it is and the new opportunities provided.
  • Change in the mindset:  Going from “Who Moved My Cheese?”, to where can we go from here?
  • Fear of the Unknown (FEAR = False Expectations / Emotions Appear Real, Finding Excuses and Reasons):  The natural survival instinct is to apply what we know to a situation to keep us safe.  When faced with the unknown, we have a fear (whether real or perceived).


As a project manager, I think about the above items at the onset of a project, and during the project, to help me to think of how others might perceive things.  I can apply the same process to new projects (opportunities) at home and other areas of my life.  When Bob Dylan sang, “The Times They Are-a Changing,” it was not only an anthem to the 60’s but to life.  As the one line states, “As the present now, Will later be past,” holds as true today as when first penned.