Sunday, June 30, 2013

Please, have some tea . . .

“In their culture, you can’t just shake hands and get down to business. When they offer you tea, accept the offer. Ask about their family. Build a relationship . . .”
This was taught in a cultural awareness class I attended years ago. We Americans have a reputation for being abrupt, getting to the point, and viewing time as money, but I believe the above statement applies here at home as well as in other cultures. Perhaps not the specifics (drinking tea), but the part about building a relationship is very relevant in our culture.

For example, a colleague once commented to me, “but you get results because you are friends.” To bring my above point home, I wasn't friends with the person about whom we were discussing before working together on a project, but I worked hard to build relationships with the project team members. Building these relationships definitely helped me to get results.

But building relationships in business doesn't necessarily mean becoming friends on a personal level. Rather, it is about building trust. This trust can be vital in uncovering potentially hidden problems and ensuring the “right” problem is solved.

This sounds simple, but it isn't always easy. Relationships in business, like personal relationships, are as different as the people involved. There is a time to get down to business because everyone is time conscious, and there are times when we need to drink a little tea and get to know one another first.

So, the next time you aren't getting the results you want on a project, take some time for tea, and get to know the people with whom you are working. You might be pleasantly surprised at the results that follow!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fear of Change

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." Charles Darwin
I've been writing about fear, and my intention was to continue the series each Saturday. Unfortunately, last weekend I spent in bed with the flu, and I had an extremely busy work week. But I've been thinking about the topic and my recent quest for information via Facebook, and I realized that I'm not so eager to reveal my greatest fear--to anyone. Only a handful of people know what I truly fear . . . and no, I'm not going to reveal it in my blog. But I've noticed some common fears among people, and one of the major fears appears to be the fear of change.

I believe fear of change is really fear of the unknown. It seems easier to cling to what one knows rather then to step out and wander into the unknown. Unfortunately, this is what keeps people in dysfunctional relationships, stagnant work situations, living locations with little room for upward mobility, the list goes on. It can also keep business owners and managers from making key decisions.

I realize that I'm making change sound like it's always a good thing--it isn't. Effecting change merely for the sake of change isn't good. There's a saying in the Army when we hear of changes that don't make sense, "Just think, someone got promoted because of this."  It's never hard to find someone looking for something to change just to get attention. Unfortunately, this fuels people's fear of healthy change.

Change can be difficult, to be sure. But I believe change for the better should be embraced. It can be painful at first, but the results can be well worth the effort.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fitness and Nutrition Tracker

As many of you know, I'm training for another event,  Nike Women's Half in DC. With my recent injury and the asthma treatments I've been undergoing, I've felt very "out-of-shape." So I've kicked it up a notch and have changed everything I'm doing to train--eating, rest, workouts . . . everything. My challenge was tracking everything.

Then a friend introduced me to LiveStrong's online tracker. It's amazing, and it's free. With it, I'm tracking my weight, food intake/calories, and workouts. The calorie tracker has a search function to make tracking easier. If you are having the same challenge, I encourage you to check it out!

I'm so motivated--bring it on!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

What do you most fear?

Oath of Office - June 2009
I posed this question to roughly 600 connections on FaceBook. I invited them to respond privately, and I promised not to reveal names. Two people responded.

I am not surprised. Sharing that which we fear exposes vulnerability, and these days many of us feel especially vulnerable. The two respondents shared the same fear: the fear of insignificance, not making a difference. One explained like this, "on the day of your funeral, no one comes." I think this is a common fear, but it is a manageable fear--if we want to make a difference, we have to get up and do something. I can relate; my life needs purpose. This was one of the drivers behind my decision to serve my country in the Army reserve.

Fear can drive people to do some amazing things and rise to new heights. But fear can also cause people to stand frozen in place when they should take action. This leads me to my next question:

How do you respond to fear?

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Don't be afraid

"Don't be afraid to see what you see."  Ronald Reagan

If a person can have a theme, this is mine: do not be afraid. Yet, when I look around me, I see fear everywhere. And there are times when I almost succumb . . . almost. At these times, something always happens, a song plays, a homily comes to mind, and I'm back on track--my fear is gone.

"Don't be afraid, but be cautious." Fr. Mike McDermott, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church

Father was describing a hike up Mt. Rainier along a deadly precipice. I'm very passionate, and at times I feel like throwing caution to the wind. These are times when a little fear is healthy, and I'm learning to heed that fear and hold onto caution. After all, falling off a cliff isn't the ending one hopes for while on an adventure. Balancing fear and caution is important, and frankly, I prefer to avoid cliffs.

I've been looking for writing topics, and it's been a struggle. There are so many things I can't say for various reasons--perhaps there is an element of fear that I don't want to admit. I thought about writing about running, health, fitness, etc. But I've done that already. So I'm going to change things up a little; I'm going to write about fear. It will be a challenge, but I thrive on challenges!

What do you fear?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Getting back on the horse . . .

Writing, running, tennis, the list goes on. What list, you ask? The list of things I haven't been doing lately. I'm recommitting myself to all of these endeavors, beginning with writing. The challenge is finding topics that are appropriate.

Yes, I took pictures from
the initial shots through
the final stitch
Running is high on my list of must-dos as well. The last race I finished was NWM '11 in San Francisco. I'm excited to say I'll be running with three other friends from Team in Training in NWM '13 in Washington, D.C. on April 28. I can't wait, but I'm not ready--I was injured shortly after Christmas, and I've been recovering from multiple stitches which became infected and a broken wrist. I still can't do push-ups, but I'm running. However, I face a long road ahead of me . . . but I'm ready to hit the road!