Thursday, March 14, 2013

Advance Your Position

So many of us lead hectic work and personal lives, racing from one commitment to another, on one flight to another, one conference call to another, etc., etc, etc.. I am almost out of breadth just describing our normal pace of life! In previous essays I have shared my thoughts on taking a few moments to proverbially “smell the roses” ( Long Look Garden / Ode to a Shunpiker /The Big Spoon ) and while I am certain that I will write more on that again sometime in the future, this essay is about a simple idea that may help you navigate life in overdrive.

I often think about and try to plan out my calendar a few weeks at a time. I have found it a bit unrealistic to try to go much beyond 3 to 4 weeks out with the ever changing landscape of work commitments, customer meetings and the inherent travel related to these commitments. Even with all the best planning, the combination of my family commitments and my work obligations can at times feel overwhelming. I have found that one approach that helps me a lot is looking ahead at my commitments and working to physically and proverbially get one move ahead, e.g., “advancing my position.”
Here is an example of what I am talking about; every Tuesday I hold a weekly conference call with my team across the country. There is not a specific time slot for the call, due to my constantly changing travel schedule, but I have held it every Tuesday for the past 2-3 years. Well on many Tuesdays I have found myself with a morning customer meeting, the weekly call scheduled mid-day, then a flight off to another work commitment. In these situations I have found that if I move quickly from the morning customer meeting to get to the airport, move directly through security, then off to a quiet corner near my gate, I can lead my weekly team conference call with a little less stress…. again “advancing my position”. Sure it takes a few minutes of forethought, but taking the variable of a “backed up” security line and a possible missed flight out of the equation is a major stress reducer for me.

Equally this idea works as I think about flight schedules. Too many times over my career have I been at the mercy of flight delays and cancellations that have impacted my work obligations. In situations where I have an early meeting in a city that requires a flight, I don’t start looking at the flight that gives me just enough time to barely make the meeting. This essay is NOT titled “By the skin of our teeth”, ha! Instead, I have learned to take those variables out of the equation and if I have a significant meeting commitment, I often will fly into that city the night before, or in the worst case, I will work to book my flight one or two flights early JUST IN CASE something happens … because while we like to plan for best case scenarios, it’s na├»ve/foolish to do so all the time!

Remember we can’t control everything in our lives but we can control our personal controllables! Work to take the risks and variables out of your personal equation, giving yourself more room to execute the myriad of deliverables on your plate and increasing your chances for success. Try to “Advance Your Position” as you dive into the days and weeks ahead and see if this little/simple idea can be helpful to you to reduce stress and enhancing your chances of success!