Leadership vs Management

Let’s address an elephant from my Wednesday post:  Management vs Leadership.

There are several blog posts, YouTube videos, and podcasts about being a good leader.  I’ve taken classes about being a good leader vs manager and signs to look for.  My mentors, when I had them, helped me identify the differences.  Even my sister and I have had conversations about leadership.

You know how to tell you work for quality leadership?  Ask someone about their leader/manager/supervisor.  If that person lights up with the chance to talk about their supervisors, you have come in contact with someone who has quality leadership.  They’ll tell you about all the awesome things they’ve done while working for the leader and all the projects their team has accomplished.  If that person looks at you like you have lost your mind and changes the topic or starts to become hostile, there’s a pretty good chance you have met someone with a manager.

Getting away from a manager is going to take time and some searching.  However, if you can’t find one, be one.  A leader doesn’t have to be someone with a management title.  That’s the beauty of leadership:  You can do it from where you are.  Of course, poor managers won’t care for it because they will see it as an attack on their position, which is another reason they are managers and not leaders:  They feel threatened when someone else steps up to the bat, regardless of the reason.

Part of me feels that is something I’m having to deal with here.  It’s not addressed directly, but when a leader walks into the room, even a toxic one, people take notice.  I also have a strong personality and that can scare managers.  This isn’t to brag:  I’ve have amazing role models and after working under amazing people, you tend to end up with some of their habits, like being straight to the point without flowering words.  And how to not be rude about being direct or a realist.  How to be supportive without promising more than you can give, and MEAN IT!

Again, quality leadership really does come back to integrity and trust.

Quote of the Day:  “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu

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Changing Viewpoints

Since Friday’s post on view points, I’ve been thinking about some areas in which I could change my view point.  I’m not the greatest person out there and there are definitely ways in which I could improve in all aspects of my life.  One issue I’m having is conflict.  I’m in a position right now where I’m not sure how to approach the conflict or it’s worth addressing because it may all be in my head.

Verbal Communication

My conflict comes down to verbal communication from the other person.  Mostly, I’m being told I’m negative, I should try to not come off as needy, and being asked if I’m overwhelmed.  Overall, those wouldn’t bother me and I’ve had enough communication and psych classes to know to ask why the person feels that way about me.  However, I’m in a new position with lots of questions after being left nearly nothing about the position and I’m trying to do the best job possible with the resources I have.  That’s a horrible excuse for poor communications.  Here’s a better one:  I don’t feel trusted or like I’m doing a good enough job.  When I ask for feedback or try to give feedback myself, I’m met with non-verbal signs of frustration and more questions about my capacity to do my job.

Reasons

I wish someone would have warned me about this aspect of management before I got here.  They didn’t and I didn’t ask the right questions so that’s on me.  However, as a somewhat self-aware person, I have to look at why their actions bother me.  I can’t change them, so what about their actions create a reaction like this in myself?  What brings up the self-doubt, the second guessing, the apathy for the position I’m in?

Trust.  There is a clear lack of trust and integrity that comes with this particular management style.  Trust that I know what I’m doing and trust that other people can handle what needs to get done without assigning something and then doing exactly what you asked the other person to do.  Integrity because employees should be able to be honest and should expect honesty in return.

The sad part is that I’ve known those answers within the first two weeks of this job.  I’ve known this was a toxic place if you couldn’t separate management from your work.  I’m not great at staying in my lane and letting things that don’t affect my work affect me.  That, sadly, is what this position needs.

So how to change the viewpoint? 

With this situation, it’s understanding that I’m not going to be able to change anything for myself until this month is over.  I can set the new person up for success though.  And that would make me feel better about this job.

Quote of the Day:  “We are our own worst enemies and as a coach you can help people recognise that, raise their self-awareness and then see if they change or do anything about it.” – Graham Potter

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February Goals

Okay, so after typing SMART Goal posts last month and coming up with my 20 goals for this years, I didn’t really want to think about monthly goals.  February’s are pretty hard for me, mostly because both my biological mom and my step mom passed away.  I’ve got my fingers crossed this month is better than it has been in the past.

January Goals:

  • Books read: 11 books.
  • Get my fortune told.  I have a friend who draws Tarot cards and I asked her to do a reading with four areas I really wanted to know about:  Work, baby girl, a move, and a divorce.  It was an interesting read where it pretty much is going to end up being a chaotic year (all the cards in the deck went everywhere) with the job happening sooner rather than later.  Fingers crossed because I have a few applications I’m waiting to hear back from, with everything else sort of falling into place once that is set.

I didn’t bake any cakes so there is one goal of the 20 I already won’t be completing.  I’m okay with that one though.  I did trade a bunch of books I wasn’t going to read that I brought with me to the local bookstore.  I only picked up two books for the 12 or more that I “turned” in, only to get six at Powell’s while on vacation.

For February, I have a move mid-month from a hotel room to an Extended Stay.  I loved Airbnb’s but with the Tucson Gem Show, there weren’t any entire homes/apts available, which sucked, and I’m spoiled enough to not want to rent a room from someone anymore.  There’s something about living with someone else for a short amount of time vs having your own home where you don’t feel like you’re intruding that makes a world of difference when pretty much on your own.  But three weeks in an Extended Stay and then I’ll be headed back east in March.  I can’t wait to get home.

But February Goals:

  • Reach 200+ miles.  I signed up for Run the Year 2020 and at the end of January, I had barely reached 90 miles.  I need to pick up the pace…by a lot.
  • Put in apartment applications back home.  I need to have a place a stay before I get home so I’m only where I’ve been staying a few days at most.
  • 9+ books.  There’s a three day weekend in there this month so that will be helpful.  Plus that will help me figure out some more books that will not be making the trip home.
  • Buy a lottery ticket.
  • Start classes!  My classes start on February 24th, both of them.  I just want to be done!
  • Finish my blanket.  I want to finish this before leaving AZ, so I need to get back to it.

That’s it for now.  I’m looking at other things to add to my list for March since I’m driving back home over four days, although I’m also moving things as soon as I stop driving.  It’s going to be interesting next month.

Listening to:  Ctrl Alt Repeat on Amazon

Reading: Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs.  Taking a break from Audiobooks for a moment to focus on feelings.

Quote of the Day:  “Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” — Stephen Hawking

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Positive vs Negative vs Realistic

I had a rather interesting conversation about how I look at life.  It wasn’t interesting in that it was a good conversation.  I think the person asking was trying to tell me I’m being negative or am being perceived as negative.  I didn’t think I was; I just know a lot of negative things about a group of people.  I know a lot of morale killers and I have stories about several people who have helped foster a toxic space, to where it’s easy to slip into the vat of toxicity.  Read several of my older posts and it’s a great study of slipping into that vat.

What are the different viewpoints about?

Positive people focus on what they themselves can control:  their own reactions to events, their own mentality, their own self-awareness.  Negative people focus on what they can’t control:  Their co-workers behavior, their boss’s reaction, what’s on the buffet line for lunch.  Realists know there are going to be things they can’t control that happen to them throughout the day; they manage their reactions while still understanding that things need to be different but change is hard.

Can you change your mindset?

Yes, but damn is it hard.  I used to be positive in the workplace.  I used to love coming to work.  I used to enjoy my life.  I had good friends, good people to be around, good work ethic, positive people who were very much about growth, great projects that made me happy and made me feel accomplished.

Slipping into the negative is easy; I know when my outlook changed.  I can almost pinpoint the exact moments where my life took a turn for the worst and I started to see through “clearer” glasses.  Again, it’s in some of my earlier posts from before January 2020.  I think the biggest one though will always be the election and the morale tank that took on my office.  From there, it rippled in to other aspects of my life.

But that’s slipping in to negative, which again, is easy.  Climbing back out of that hole is a lot harder.  It’s a constant daily struggle.  It’s self-help books and trying to see the more positive side of things when you are having trouble just seeing the day-to-day things you personally can control.  It’s reading blog posts, like this one from Life Hack, or listening to podcasts or Youtube videos about changing your mindset, like Tony Robbins.  It’s putting into practice what works to grow, stretch, and challenge yourself.

Book recommendations for change:  The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck; The Energy Bus; and 100 Days of Brave.  I am not religious but even with the God aspect, it made me think and hit me in the feels.  There is grief, pain, and self-examination along with questions to ask yourself every day.  It’s almost like Marc and Angel’s website, which I highly recommend too.

Listening to:  Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

Reading:  Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

Quote of the Day:  “I don’t believe it. Prove it to me and I still won’t believe it.” — Douglas Adams

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Open letter to my biological Mom

Today, you would have been 63.  I remember your age because you were 30 when you had me and I’m 33 this summer.  I feel old.

It’s hard typing this because in about 10 days, you’ll have been gone 19 years.  That’s right; you were 44 and we were just entering our teenage years when you left.  44.  You’d barely started living for the most part.  I have friends and my soon to be ex-wife will be older than you were when you died.  That’s hard to swallow in a way because it leaves a lot of “what ifs?” for me.

Soon, I’ll even be older than you were.  Yes, 11 years is a long time and there is so much that can happen in those years:  Maybe more kids, better jobs, a degree or two, divorces, goals reached and exceeded, moves, deaths, etc.  Not all of this is me, but for all three of us.  But the what if’s come down to:  What if I only have 11 years left on this planet?  What if I’m not doing enough to make sure that I have longer than that?  What if I can’t find some lofty goal that makes me want to do more, be more so that I do focus on making sure I’m around?  What if I’m not making you proud of me?  What if I am?  These are things no one gets to ask when you’ve only experienced 13 years on Earth before someone who is important to you is gone.  What if I do end up dying in 11 years; who’s going to take care of Scarlet?  It’s all things I think about that no one really has the answer to until they happen.

Eleven years is a long time though and there are plenty of things to do between now and then.  I know that nothing is guaranteed except paying bills and making the most of the time we have been given.

Missing you always.

Cat

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Travel Log–Portland

Portland.

How to explain you without going overboard or highlighting only your good parts?

This weekend was amazing and a much needed break from my job.  My job doesn’t suck but to be reminded to take a breath of fresh air and that there is more to things than sitting hunched over a desk… There aren’t words to describe it.  Maybe like a weight had been lifted?  I’m not trying to sound dramatic but that’s really what it felt like.  Going home would be another way to put it.

I didn’t grow up in the Pacific NW but when I get the chance to visit, I take it.  I really am waiting to hear back on jobs I’ve put in for out there.  So fingers crossed.

Both times I’ve been to Portland before, though, I went alone.  I’ve done a lot of traveling alone so having someone travel with me this time was definitely different and we did some different things too, that I normally wouldn’t have done.

Mills End Park

On my previous visits, I’d been to both Powell’s Books location, the main one where you need a map and the smaller one where you didn’t need a map but there were still plenty of books to find.  We met one of his friends at the smaller one after walking around looking for a shop he wanted to check out.

Voodoo Donuts

The food there is always good, but these donuts?  These will kill you…in a good way of course.

What else?  Overall, it was a great trip and I can’t wait to come back to a place that feels like home without really being home.  There are trails galore, plenty to do and experience, and much better transportation than I have seen anywhere I’ve visited, sans maybe NYC.

Onesie

Listening to: Office chatter

Reading:  Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel.  It’s a great conclusion to the Themis Trilogy, even if Eva is a whiny brat in this one too.

Quote of the Day:  “Great things never came from comfort zones.” ~ Anonymous

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Travel Plans–Lodging

Monday, I talked about flights.  Today is going to be about lodging options while on travel.

Over my adult life, I have used a couple different lodging options, from camping (maybe twice) to hotels (so many different chains) to AirBNBs (and one regular BNB).

Which works better? 

This depends on your travel reasons and your party size.  For large parties, AirBNB is the better option because you can rent a whole house rather than individual hotel rooms.  My ex-wife and I did this for both of her son’s graduations and it worked out well.  I’ve also done this as a team building thing for work.  The freedom to cook saved us all on food bills.

AirBNB was also a good option for long-term stays where corporate housing wasn’t really an option.  I got lucky with one detail though and didn’t have to move out the whole time.  Having a kitchen and place to call home (and send packages to) made the trip more enjoyable, and more cost affordable, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

What about short-term stays?

For short-term, party of one or two people, hotels are great options but not all chains are created equally.  Some hotel chains offer the basics.  For a one night stop-over or when looking for a budget-friendly place, motels and hotels like Days Inn are good.  I have a horror story about motels though:  I’ve almost been walked in on because someone double booked my room.

If you have time to plan though, think about things you would like in your accommodations.  For me, free breakfast and coffee in the morning is important.  Location is another.  While in Portland, we are walking distance from the MAX line and close to the airport, with a free shuttle.

Planning also allows you to consider rewards points.  Check out this list of hotels that offer rewards points and how they stack up against each other.  I’ve done IHG and Marriott Bonvoy.  I like Marriott’s website a lot better and they make it easy to see how many points I get per stay.

What are things to consider before booking?

Again, for me, booking lodging comes down to a handful of things:  How many people are traveling with me?  How long am I staying?  If only a few nights, solo or with a partner, what are the hotel amenities and location?  What is my budget for this trip?

Why is budget important?

Budget is always important.  There are times I only have so much to spend on a trip because I’m an adult living paycheck to paycheck.  My side hustles fund my trips so it comes down to what I can make before the trip.  That said, sometimes eating out for every meal while on travel is not affordable or even worth it.  I can’t eat much and don’t enjoy food like I used to, even while pregnant.  My friend can pack food away like it’s no one’s business, so having a kitchen or a place that offers free breakfast where he can eat his fill before we leave for the day was a blessing.  Having a kitchen where I can cook meals in also helps.  For example: I can spend $60 on a meal outside or I can spend $60 in groceries that will last a couple of days depending on how I meal prep.  I’ll take the $60 in groceries any day.

Now, to get on a plane and enjoy my vacation as a tourist!

Listening to:  Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Reading: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Quote of the Day:  “You will not die of pain, but you will never get used to it. Pain is unique in that it does not show habituation or neural adaptation, like smell, or touch.”—Sylvain Neuvel, Waking Gods

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RAGNAR!

I have a few goals on my Day Zero list that involve running. So far, I have done two Ragnar Races (one trail and one road), five half marathons, a couple 5k’s, and have attempted a full marathon.  That is a lot of miles on my feet, and I want to add more over 2020.  Right now, I’m working through Run the Year in miles as a team.

But I wanted to talk about Ragnars, mostly do a quick FAQ post for questions I’ve been asked.

What is a Ragnar? 

From the Ragnar website, a Ragnar is a 24+ hour run on either a trail or road.  The people who run Ragnars are normally those that seek adventure, love fitness and the outdoors, give moral support to each other at 3 AM, enjoy camaraderie, don’t stop for bad weather (unless there is lightening threats), accomplish the amazing – together, aren’t afraid to wear crazy costumes, cheer others on, and ring cowbells to celebrate victories – small and large.

How do they work? 

Ragnars are races made up of either 2-, 4-, 6-, 8- , or 12-person teams, depending on how much you really want to run.  There are three types:  A sunset relay, a road relay, and a trail relay.

Sunset

Sunset runs are a team of 2 (ultra) or 4 run 26-ish miles in one evening—one runner at a time on a single loop—hoping to cross the finish line before the sun sets, where an epic party awaits. We basically took a marathon, turned it into a team sport, and added live music and food trucks.  This is a great way to start doing Ragnars, since they are maybe 12 hours max and limited travel.

Road

Road relays are teams of 6 (ultras) or 12 run roughly 200 miles—from point A to point B—on city streets, country roads, sidewalks, and bike paths. You’ll run day, and night, and day again, sleeping (ha ha) in vans, grassy fields, or perhaps a high school gym (with the principal’s permission).  *Note* Take a towel with you so you can shower at the gym if you can. It’s locker room but worth it.

Trail

Trail runs are teams of 4 (ultra) or 8 run roughly 120 miles—in three repeating loops—on wilderness trails that wind through forests, valleys, and mountainsides. You’ll run day, and night, and day again, sleeping (yeah right) in a temporary tent city known as Ragnar Village.

Why would anyone want to do that?

Beyond the obvious-friends, a chance to run around in other locations, meeting new people, travel-the biggest reason I do any race is for the challenge and the Medals.  There’s the medals you get for just running them, then there are regional medals, and then there is the Mother of Medals:  Ragnar has an Immortal challenge medal for anyone who runs 12 Ragnars in a year.  I can’t manage it this year, but next year, that’s my top running goal.  This also means bragging rights too.  I’ve only heard second hand about people who have gotten the Immortal medal.

Which one do you prefer?

Trail.  Hands down.  With Trail, everyone is together at a campsite so everyone gets to mingle together.  There’s also no need to bring an extra person to volunteer if you don’t have to.  A team member will need to volunteer though, or the team can pay to opt of volunteering.  I volunteered to cover the shift; it was definitely worth it!

Are you planning on doing any in the future?

Yes!  I just haven’t figured out which ones yet.  I’m signing up for Ragnar Richmond in April with some friends.  It’s a trail run and will be my first race postpartum.

My only warning with Ragnars:  Start small, but be prepared to catch Ragnar fever!  Being around a lot of people, feeding off the adrenaline of everyone, and being part of something bigger than yourself is addictive, at least to me it was.  I went through withdrawal for a few days after I got home from my first one and signed up for my second one shortly afterwards.  Totally worth it though.

Listening to:  People milling about. Gotta love full day meetings.

Reading: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop.

Quote of the day: “I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.” ― Dean Karnazes

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Upcoming Travel

I love to travel.  That’s one of the few things I didn’t really make a goal for this year.  There’s a lot going on in my life—currently pregnant, trying to find a new job in a different state, divorcing—that I didn’t feel comfortable putting anything travel related on my goals list.  Even the races are local to the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) area—Pennsylvania, VA, DC, maybe as far out as NC and OH, or whatever other state surrounds where I end up.  Right now, I’ve been going after jobs in OR, WA, and UT.  Fingers crossed for any of those.

Which brings me back to travel.  A friend and I are going to Portland for the weekend.  After the month I’d spent there five years ago, Portland has always felt like home.  When I get the chance to go, I do, and since Southwest had great flight options, I booked a trip.  A babymoon, if you want to make it that, since I’ll be 31 weeks and counting.

A few things from booking this trip:

  • Check other airports around your area! If you are flying out of a small town, you may not have other airline options.  However, if you have the opportunity to look at other airports, do it.  In DC, there’s three to choose from.  In AZ, depending on where you are and how far you are willing to drive, there are at least two.
  • Google Incognito is your friend! Travel sites keep track of how often you log into a site and what you’re looking for, so if you can, clear your search history or use an incognito window.
  • Shop around. This isn’t an unknown suggestion.  I searched Southwest’s website for flight deals specific to Southwest since I have never been able to find them on third part sites.  com is good for finding flight deals to other locations and they even let you search by starting airport without having a destination in mind.
  • Check baggage policies before booking. Southwest is the only airline that allows bags to fly free.  Some airlines still allow for overheard storage or gate check if the flight is full.  Other companies *cough* Spirit *cough* charge for everything.  If you have a short flight or aren’t packing much for a weekend trip, check them out.  Otherwise, definitely shop around.
  • Sign up for the airline deal emails. I know I get way too many emails on a daily basis.  However, for travel junkies, signing up to get airline deal emails from Southwest, Frontier, and even TravelZoo, a third party platform that sends out weekly travel package deals, are worth it.

Now to pack!

Listening to:  Not much.  It’s a holiday state-side so yay for an extra day off.

Reading:  Lake Silence by Anne Bishop.  I wanted to do a 36 in 72 hour read-a-thon. That didn’t work out so well.  I couldn’t focus.

Quote of the Day:  “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” ~ Saint Augustine

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Making SMART Goals-Y

Part of what I am working on while I am away from my home office deals with performance, not just mine but also those that I am supervising.  One major thing I’ve noticed and learned over the years is creating SMART goals.

SMART goals were initially introduced by George Doran (1981, 35-36) in an issue of Management Review.  Yes, SMART goals were initially intended for performance and project management so there were measures in place to assist in getting the project off the ground.  SMART stands for:

  • Specific– target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable– quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable– specify who will do it.
  • Realistic– state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related– specify when the result(s) can be achieved.  (Wikipedia)

There’s one letter missing though:  Y.

When I first started typing these posts, Google came in handy with several different versions of SMART goals.  There are actually several letters that can be added to SMART goals:  Another R (relevant), another A (accountable), another M (milestones), another T (targeted), etc.  It’s really up to the individual which version they choose to go with.

This is where Y comes in:  This is YOUR journey and the goals chosen need to reflect what is important to you as an individual.  If YOU want to get a handle on YOUR finances, if YOU want to go back to school, if YOU want to start a fitness journey or get that next promotion at work, YOU need to figure out the next steps.

One thing I’ve learned about making relevant goals and chasing dreams:  Everyone has opinions about YOUR life.  It’s up to YOU if you listen to them or not.

Sure, current societal standards are going to make you FEEL like you need to have that college degree; do YOU want it though?  Current societal standards dictate how you should feel about your body, how you should look and dress, what make-up you need to buy to look like the stars.  Unless that if your personal dream, why are you chasing after?

Your dreams and goals are important and they should be important to YOU, not anyone else.  Yes, you can bring people along with you on the journey.  Friends can be supportive; they can also rip apart your dreams and tell you that you’re delusional.  With SMART goals, milestones, and check-points for your dreams, YOU make the choice for your life.

Empower yourself, get out there and accomplish one small thing every day, even if it’s just coming up with a goal or two this year to work towards.

Listening to:  The keys clicking as I type.

Reading:  In between books still.  I haven’t picked up anything I really want to read yet.

Quote of the day:  “You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”― Tom Hiddleston

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