Giving 80%

Work Life Balance - defining what you want.

I am in my 50s now. I own my own business. It isn't as successful as it could be, but it's growing and I feel good about my work and where I am in life.

Could I do more? Of course. But do I want to? No. People laugh when I tell them that I am really quite lazy.  They don't believe me because I seem to get so much done.

I think maybe one of the reasons I am so efficient is because - I REALLY guard my free time.  Efficiency helps with this.

The reality is - I could be doing more. A lot more. But I don't.  And I recently found someone who articulated why I don't better than I ever have.

Nakamura, one of the people on a Japanese reality tv show called Terrace House.  He is older. He is a professional snow boarder. He also works as a yakitori chef and owns his own clothing line.

In in Terrace House New Beginnings on Netflix.  Episode 5 Ami, a 20 year old in her third year of college doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. She can't bring herself to apply for jobs. Neither in her chosen career, or as a model, which she says she wants to do. She doesn't really want to commit to a career path.  This is important because in Japan, if you join a company, you are expected to stay with that company and she is clearly not ready to make that sort of commitment, but she also isn't sure she doesn't want to.

She is helping Nakamura sort and get his shirts and stuff ready to ship out to his customers. She wants to know how he figured out what to do with his life and how he decided what path to go on.

He says – he didn’t really know what he wanted to do either and he is muddling along. He has sponsors and a summer job and his business which does ok. He’s not shooting for the moon. He’s doing ok.    80% is enough.

That’s when he starts talking about giving 80%.  "Giving 100% is exhausting, but by giving 80% I feel like you can go pretty far."  He didn't want to commit to one thing you may not like. So - give 80%.

The segment is at the 25 minute mark:

Brilliant!  I feel the same way - I don't want to give 100%. I want to have a life. I want to spend time with my kid. I want to have friends. I like going to the movies. I like having a life. Giving 110% or even 100% to a job, leaves no room for anything else.

This is one of the things I liked about my husband. He told me – he’s never going to be fabulously wealthy. He does ok but he has no drive to do the work to be super wealthy. 80% is enough. That’s why I married him.  I feel the same way.

I admire people who give 100%, but I'm ok not being one of them.  It's ok. You can actually go pretty far giving 80%.  I'm proof of that.

Professionalism as a cure for VUCA

I can live with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. What I have trouble with is clarity.

VUCA is a new-ish buzz word. It means Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. learning how to cope with VUCA helps you - cope and therefore be more successful.

I don't think I have a problem with VUCA. What I have a problem with is clarity.  I am ok with the struggles inherent in trying accomplish something. I expect things to change and be uncertain and to be more complex then original thought. I plan for that to happen.
What frustrates me to no end, to the point I'll lose my cool - is lack of clarity.  If there is not a clear understanding of what we are trying to accomplish and how we have decided to accomplish it - then getting through the difficulties - is impossible.

Without clarity - I have no clue on how to proceed to overcome the obstacles because I have no basis on which to judge - what a good solution to the problem is. I can live with volatility and uncertainty. I can't fix what is wrong though, without clarity.

I had a moment of clarity the other day. I have been working with an individual who is absolutely crappy about providing clarity. Most of the time I have no idea what they want me to do, how they want me to do it, when they want me to do it by or what resources I might be given to do the work that was vaguely suggested needs to be done. 

To me - this lack of clarity feels like lack of professionalism. If you ask me to participate in a meeting, but won't tell me when the meeting is, where it is, what the meeting is about, why we are having the meeting and what you hope comes out of the meeting, then, I can't participate in the meeting. This is basic stuff.

Which is why I have been thinking about the need for clarity as it relates to VUCA. We can't control everything, but we can at least provide clarity on what we want to have happen. To me, this is what it means to be a professional.

A professional works to make sure everyone is at least clear on what the objectives are, what the plan is, when we plan to do whatever it is and what resources we are going to use and who is responsible for what.

If I have a professional relationship with someone – the thing that gets us through the difficulties caused by volatility and ambiguity and what gives us the confidence to work together through the complexity – is having clarity on what it is we are trying to accomplish. Who is responsible for what etc.

To me – clarity is what helps makes getting through VUCA doable. It’s what reduces my stress. 

When I strive to be professional - this is what I am trying to do. Whether I think of other people as professional or not - has to do entirely with how well they create clarity and therefore confidence in myself and others.

I'm curious whether anyone else feels the same way I do about what it means to be a professional.

How to not feel bad about owning up to your mistakes

Strong capable people – fix their mistakes.  This is a mindset tweak that helps people understand that it’s ok to make mistakes. What’s not ok is to not fix them.  I tell people, the only thing worse than being wrong, is continuing to be wrong because of pride.

The other thing is that fixing mistakes – feels good. Responsibility is empowering. It means you believe you can fix your problems and instead of wishing for them to be fixed, or waiting for other people to fix them. YOU fix them. It’s empowering. A lot of people try to avoid responsibility, because they don’t understand the power and pride that comes with being responsible.

To get started, you just make a decision to do it. If you make a mistake – think – ok. I screwed up. What am I going to do to fix this?  If it means apologizing, apologize. If it means making amends or at least offering to make amends, that’s what you do.  What people find is that as they start practicing this – and it is a practice - the more respect they will receive from others and the more they will respect themselves. And that feels good. True, some people won’t forgive them. But most will.  And for those that don’t, at least you tried. For those that do – you strengthen your relationship with them.

The key to reaping the benefits of personal responsibility – is to just start practicing it. It is self
re-enforcing so it’s easy to keep at it once you start.

Problems with Change Management

There are reasons why people resist change and techniques to help them adjust. Science really can help us be more successful.

I have helped organizations – both non-profit and for profit – through change processes. I’ve helped nonprofit with toxic volunteer employee relations build a thriving volunteer program spanning several departments. I’ve helped redesign business processes for a 1/2 billion dollar company so that our acquisition team could close 8 deals a week instead of the 2 per month we had been doing. And, I’ve got a background in behavioral psychology to understand why people resist change and how to help them overcome it.

Here are 3 reasons why change processes fail and how to fix them.

1. Not understanding that change requires unlearning and unlearning follows a very predictable process.  If we are going to change something, it means that we are doing something now and we want to do it differently. That means giving up the old way and adopting the new way. For a behaviorist – this means – unlearning. All unlearning follows a pattern. Understand what that pattern is and how to trigger it  - and you can more easily control the process.

2. Not understanding that resistance to change doesn’t mean rejection of change.  Resistance to change is instinctual. We are asking people to unlearn habits and habits are hard to change, even for people who want to change. The resistance that occurs isn’t necessarily a rejection of the new processes. It’s really just an instinctual inability to let go of old habits. This manifests as all sorts of cranky behavior by the team, but it’s predicted to occur so there is no reason to get worked up about it.

3. Taking the resistance to change personally. The number of managers I’ve heard blame the employees for not understanding the brilliant ideas behind the change request  is stunning. People insert a LOT of ego into their efforts and take it personally when they experience resistance. Good managers understand how to help employees through that and the ones that succeed – get their egos out of the way and focus on helping their staff cope with the stress that is – change.

Hope this helps. I teach an online course on this. Why is Change so Hard – which discusses the behavioral dynamic playing out and how behaviorists trigger and control the process.

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