Category Archives:

motivation

If You Have Something to Say, Make Sure You Can Be Heard

One of the best parts of participating in a charity run is the cheering on of others just before the finish line. 

For runners, it’s a ‘so close yet so far’ experience. They can see the finish line, but it is still far away. Exhausted they draw upon every ounce of strength they can muster to achieve their goal. Thirty seconds is a long time when each one feels like an eternity.

This is when runners need the most support. Motivational phases like “you can do it” or “you are almost there” can help someone push through their pain to do their best.

Reactions from runners are varied. Some run past, oblivious to the well-wishes, others look at you but say nothing and others smile and say thanks. My favourite response is when someone speeds up, giving it their all. 

Last Sunday, I saw an athletic man who was running with a backpack on. I said, “Your finish is going to be great.” He looked at me, smiled and blasted off to the finish line like an Olympian. Great stuff!

Midway through my cheers, I noticed a teenager behind me and to my side. He had joined in on the cheering.  His encouragements were more specific and better than mine. He said thinks like “start kicking your feet now” and “200 hundred metres to go.” Encouragement is like a compliment: the more specific the better.

Unfortunately, his calls were barely audible. I could hear him but the runners, many wearing headphones, couldn’t. Also, he was standing about six feet away from the path, out of the line of site of runners. He wasn’t noticed and his great encouragements didn’t have the impact he intended.

I asked him if he wanted to come closer to the runners, but he said no. 

This happens so often in business, especially in organizations going through a lot of change. People are doing great work to support the change but it is not noticed. Sometimes the reason is cultural, where standing out, even if you have the right answer, is discouraged. Other times, people avoid being the focus of attention.  Either way, their work doesn’t have the impact that was intended.

Part of good change management is to catch people doing good things that are aligned with the direction the the organization has chosen. It is the change leader’s role to identify, recognize and reward these efforts so they positively impact the organization and advance the change.

You can be sure that I will be saying “start kicking your feet now” and “200 hundred metres to go” at my next race. Phil

Back in the Saddle Again

Self Portrait

Recently, I took on a consulting assignment to co-design and facilitate a two-day team meeting. Why did I do it? First, I had worked with the leader before and knew it would be fun.  Second, it’s been a while since I worked on a change project and I didn’t want to become rusty. Third, based on an initial phone briefing I knew I could help.


Getting dressed for my first meeting I remembered that tying ties is not a strength. Wearing a suit, however, felt good. As I entered the office building I felt ‘corporate.’ As I waited in the lobby I mused that these spaces are the same around the world – the seating area layout,  employees briskly walking with purpose, a courier dropping off a package, and a receptionist directing a call – I could have been in any city.  In the meeting, I could feel energy. There was a puzzle that needed solving and we were gathering pieces to do so. As I drove home, my mind was full of questions, facts, and possibilities. I was alive.


There is a unique confidence felt when doing something you have done successfully many times before: you know the raw materials, you can sense what works and what doesn’t, and you don’t stop until you get it right. This is how I felt when I was working on the design. Facilitating was great, too. Interacting with a team reminded me how much people have to give. 

Setting Up

After the event I made the following notes:

– Everything effects mood, e.g., location, tone, pacing, language, etc.
– People can’t absorb all the information they are given (no matter how you give it to them)
– Individuals need to be understood and validated (including me)
– Energy is contagious
– A team with a common goal is extremely powerful
– Change work is exhausting 
– Helping people build a better future is the biggest thrill 

Now it’s back to editing my second draft and writing additional stories. I have missed my book over the past couple of days. Would I take on another assignment? Absolutely, if it had the same elements as this one. You always get more than you give.


Phil

What presence?

Every year during the holidays, a friend and I choose a destination to visit  in the summer. We’ve been to many cities in the US and Canada. Each one has its special attractions and memories. 

Ernest Hemingway’s study, Key West

This year we discussed going to Key West, Florida, the southernmost city in the continental United States. It would be great to visit Ernest Hemingway’s home to see where he wrote ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro.’ 


Why are we fascinated by environments that produce great things? Is it the belief that we, too, can get something positive from these spaces, that something magical will rub off on us? If so, is it the physical space or the spiritual presence that holds this magic? Could we get it by sitting in Hemingway’s writing chair or by closing our eyes and taking in the essence of his study?

Inspiration
Reading

I started thinking about how my environment has played a role in my writing.  What made it productive? What facilitated the connection between intention and output? Perhaps, like most things, it’s a collection of factors versus one ‘silver bullet.’ 


If you get inspiration by visiting famous places, that’s great. If you create your own productive space, that’s great, too. As long as an environment helps you get to where you want to go, you are in the right place. So far, it’s working for me.  Phil

Writing: 1. Source materials, calendar, to do list, and latest draft, 2. Where thoughts turn into words, 3. My plan – front and centre, 4. My printer that churns out numerous drafts, 5. Reference materials

Can you be strategic about holiday reading?

Holiday reading lists are dangerous things. They can lead to disappointment if your appetite is bigger than the time you have to feast. I made this mistake last year. The challenge is that there’s so much you want to read and so little time in which to do so. Since family and friends come first, reading can be relegated to the “I will do it soon” pile.


Here is my pared down list:

‘Hearts and Minds’ is a book written by a close friend, Dan Azoulay, who was an inspiration for writing my book. He captures the essence of romance in Canada between 1900-1930 based on 20,000 letters written to magazine ‘correspondence columns’.  It’s an engaging read. 

‘On Writing Well,’ is William Zinsser’s excellent guide to writing clearly and compellingly. I was half way through it in June when I decided it was time to start writing my book versus reading about how to do it.


‘Writing a Winning Non-Fiction Book Proposal’ is a  ‘how-to’ guide written by the Chairman and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. I’m excited about starting the research for the next phase of my adventure.

There are many other unread books staring at me from my bookshelf. I have learned they need to stay there. I’m enjoying getting back to reading, when I’m not visiting with family and friends.

Phil

Like a Light Bulb

The weeks that fly by are also the ones that spark the most vibrant memories. I had one of those last week. I was driving hard against an aggressive deadline, but falling behind my plan. There are two options when this happens: cut corners or cut sleep. I chose the latter. I wouldn’t have felt right handing over my draft without cleaning up  my sections. It’s like leaving home with coffee stains on your shirt – it’s something you just don’t do.

Seeing the print out of my manuscript for the first time was emotional. Flipping through the 252 double-spaced pages felt like I was holding a real book. I could sense the day when this will be true. The owners of our local UPS Store were friendly and supportive. They even gladly took my picture in their store.


The highlight of my week, however, was meeting my editor, Ken. We spoke for over two hours about my book. He observed that I talked about what I wanted my book to be. Ken wisely pointed out that he might be able to help me discover what it could be. What a riveting conversation we had. I was beaming as I shared a few of my stories and he shared a few of his views on book-making. I am excited by our partnership and look  forward to reading his notes in January.


But now it’s the holidays, a time for family and friends. It’s also time to catch up on my reading. It will be good to focus on what others have to say.


Phil

An Author by Any Other Name is Half as Sweet

Last week, I attended a ‘Change Management Roundtable’ session hosted by the Strategic Leadership Forum. It was the first industry function I had been to since starting to write. The registration form had asked for my title; for the first time in my career, I didn’t have one.  I thought about using my old title, but that didn’t seem right. I thought about leaving it blank but that also didn’t seem right. I settled on ‘Author’ because ‘Author-to-be,’ although accurate, really didn’t seem right.

I received my ID tag on arrival, which included my name and title. My initial feeling was embarrassment. I felt naked among a crowd of clothed business people. I hadn’t earned this title and already I was displaying it on my chest for the world to see. Things got worse. The administrator asked for my card so it could be entered into a draw.  I knew that someone might ask me for my card so I was confident in saying, “I don’t have a card at this time.” She kindly offered to make one for me. Then I thought, what happens if I win the draw and they broadcast that Phil Buckley, Author should come up and collect his prize? I felt naked again and hoped I didn’t win. 

As the evening wore on, I felt more comfortable with my newly adopted title. I also felt clothed again, which was a relief. I met an interesting man who showed a real interest in my book. He said he looked forward to reading it. I also had a great conversation with a woman who was encouraging about my journey. There are many amazing people in the world to cheer you on. Sometimes they are people you have just met.

Looking back at the experience I am reminded of a great quote about confidence by Adlai Stevenson:  “It is hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.” So, here I am, Phil Buckley, Author, typing away with purpose and conviction. My name tag is in front of me on my desk, just in case I forget who I am.



Phil

How to Unwrap a Gift So You Fully Appreciate It

The other day, I was scrolling through a technical newsletter (to improve my social media strategy!) and I came across an intriguing article called ‘Unboxing the Kindle Fire.’ A lot has been written about this low cost, high value tablet but this was the first article I had seen about how to properly unveil one. Since feedback is like a gift, this was an apt analogy for opening my reviewers’ comments on the sample excerpt they have read.

Like most things in life, there are bad, good and best ways of doing them. I reasoned it would be wise to put some thought into how best to open my feedback to make the most of the experience. 


Here are the guidelines I follow:


Open one gift at a time
Unwrap it slowly
Look at the whole gift first and then look at 
the details 
Appreciate why the giver chose the features – they were selected  for a purpose
Keep the packaging – care was put into the wrapping, which is an important part of the gift
Enjoy the experience
Be grateful


To push the analogy further, I will line up my gifts and look for trends. Are there common themes? Any types of gift I haven’t received? What is the best order in which to explore them?


It is better to give than to receive, but receiving is great, too!


Phil

Becoming a Platinum Member of My Own Rewards Program

Over the past five months, I have received tremendous encouragement from friends and family. It has helped me stay on course through the twists and turns of doing something new. Just yesterday, I received an incredible note from someone I haven’t seen in eight years. He said, “…keep on with your passions. Know you have people cheering you on from the sidelines. Be sure to leverage those people on the sidelines when you feel a need for perspective…” What a powerful message and kind gesture – I will reread it often.

I realize, however, that I need to take accountability for my motivation. Motivation is inspired from outside but built from within. I must be my number one cheerleader. I must be responsible for fanning the flames of my passion and ambition.

Rewards are an important element of any change project. Whether for celebrating milestones achieved or acknowledging the hard work of the team – rewards matter. This is contrary to an article I read recently. The author said you must be wary of rewards and to use them selectively. On the surface, this partly makes sense. They should be used to reward specific events or behaviours and not handed out without merit. What I don’t see is the implied caution in using them. It reminds me of a quote from the early 90s TV show ‘Twin Peaks.’ Kyle Maclachlan says, “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it. Just let it happen.” Everyday seems a bit much, however the spirit feels right.

I only have witnessed two situations where rewards and recognition were not motivating. The first was in a unionized manufacturing environment when the individual was teased for being positively recognized. The second was when someone didn’t like the reward she had been given: “What am I going to do with a utility knife?” Every other situation left people feeling appreciated and recharged. 

If rewards are an important part of change project management, then why shouldn’t it be an important part of a project to write a book on change management? I need to build them into my work plan so I can celebrate milestones achieved and acknowledge hard work.  I must build my own rewards program of which I am a platinum member.

The two rewards I have planned are a new technical t-shirt for my first marathon in October, and the CD and DVD of  A-ha’s final concert. They may not be on your list of rewards but they definitely have me excited. Now, I must keep doing the work that will earn them.

Phil

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