Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Highs and Lows

It would be nice if life moved along at a smooth pace. You know what I mean, mostly positive moments connected with the naturally occurring bumps, but nothing too dramatic.

But that’s not what 2022 has been for me.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever experienced as many transitions, and the wild ride of emotions that follow those transitions, in any other year. You win, 2022. 

So, please stop now.

It’s been one thing to manage the transitions themselves…work pressure, so many responsibilities in all facets of life, many people relying on me, etc. That has been hard enough. When my emotions are layered on top…then add in personal relationships…the wild ride really kicks into overdrive.



The odd thing about 2022 is that I’ve had some amazing high points as well…including some playing out right now. Those are really exciting.

I’ve worked hard to manage my way to the mid-point of the year, but candidly, it hasn’t been easy.

Even though I feel like I’m winning, it still feels like a bit too much to handle sometimes. 

I wonder if any of you have felt this way?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


Pic

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Understanding How I Work and Live My Best

This Spring I decided to open my mind (for as much as that is possible) to understanding myself better. I’ve been trapped in self-inflicted stereotypes for a long time, and it was finally time to shed those insecurities and figure out how to fully maximize my whole self.

Whew, that’s a lot to think about…and do.

Work, which dominates my time has been an interesting analysis. I have peak productivity times, and I have times when I need to redirect my thinking and recharge so I can finish each day strong. The days of saying I go full power for 10 hours straight are gone. Why? Because my work suffered.

Workouts, which are a huge part of my non-work time have also been adjusted. Food intake, appropriate rest, and understanding that I can go much harder than my brain wants me to, have all improved my performance in the gym. You can too. Listen to your body, not your mind…it will quit on you long before you actually need to stop. My trainer has helped me understand this more than any article, video or “friend who really knows about exercise.”

Nutrition, which along with sleep are the foundations of our effectiveness at work and play are critical. My nutrition coach has made a huge difference in my life which is why he and I stay in contact every day.


As for relationships…well…that’s probably a post for another time.

The life puzzle that these pieces fit into shifts constantly and can be difficult to maintain…so it’s even more important that I focus and remain flexible. The results have been so positive for me.

How do you work best?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


Pic

Monday, July 18, 2022

Faith and Work

I've been an executive for a long time. I've had a deep faith much longer.

Yet for many years these two massive parts of my life ran in parallel.

Why? This makes abolutely no sense whatsoever. Sure, as an HR leader I got all caught up in political correctness to such an extreme that (for me) it became a bit embarrassing. 

Regardless of our faith pespective, do we really believe we can worship one day and then morph into some other person during the week and have that reconcile?

That's for each of us to answer privately.

I now openly talk about my faith, when appropriate; discuss how blessed I feel, not just quoting the #blessed hashtag; and make sure others know it is perfectly okay to discuss their faith with me regardless of their background or journey.

Is that wrong?

I don’t believe so.


My faith has pulled me through some dark periods (hopefully none of you noticed, because those are tough places to be, let alone when you're on public display.)

Where does your faith fit into your professional life? I hope you've made room.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


pic

Monday, July 11, 2022

Practicing and Preaching

As the son of a United Methodist minister I am no stranger to preaching. As a human resources executive for many years I’ve done my share of preaching too.

But do my actions always match my words?

I’m afraid not.

“Take time to rest and recharge!” Nope.

“Take your PTO, it’s important!” Nope.

“Ask for help when you need it!” Nope.

“You can say no, it’s actually okay!” Nope.

Does any of this strike a chord with you; or, am I the only one struggling to reconcile what I know is best with what I actually do?




Maybe this sounds like I’m fishing for false praise as a “hard worker”…or that I’m trying to showcase that I’m a super-leader? That’s a BIG nope.

In this new era of my No Excuses blog I’m taking my own leadership to a deeper level. I’m holding myself accountable differently. And even though it’s a little awkward to open myself up publicly, I know I need to. Perhaps one of you struggles in the same way?

As I continue to challenge myself and improve my effectiveness in my work and personal life, calling myself out on important issues is essential. How do you challenge yourself?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


Pic

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

That’s Not Allowed

I’m often relied upon to be the one full of energy and enthusiasm. It’s a bit humbling to be honest. Imagine, others looking to you to be the spark that brings them back from a dark place; or, simply to be that constant stream of positivity?

That also does not leave much room to feel human myself.

This has become one of the many sources of pressure I feel. My friends, family and colleagues expect me to ‘always be on.’ 

When those moments come and I’m worn out or simply feeling low…and I let my guard down and allow it to show…it is immediately recognized and the questions follow.

Most of time I’m fine. Others, not so much. But I don’t want to feel compelled to discuss those moments with anyone. I know their concern is well intended, and it is greatly appreciated.

It’s an odd thing really. One of my greatest strengths that I enjoy and utilize constantly, becomes a major stressor in an instant.



In the end I’ve conditioned myself to quietly whisper in my head “that’s not allowed” when I’m not feeling myself. It’s just easier to showcase my acting skills than it is to answer a flurry of questions and have those around me wondering what is going on in my head.

I’m actually fine…I’m just experiencing a range of emotions…just like you do.

Thanks for being here.

Jay

 

Pic


Friday, July 1, 2022

The Kindness Competency

There are lots of unwritten rules around leadership.

Don't be too political.

Don't be too religious.

Don't be too sensitive.

Just focus on business.

I'm not an advocate for that perspective (anymore.) We're all experiencing the massive divide in the United States across many fronts. The pandemic, and a series of extreme Presidents on either end of the spectrum have reinforced that division.

So, where does kindness fit in at work? Is it something that is embraced, but only as words on a formal statement but are never backed up in the culture?

Does kindness become a central value to the very core of what an organization is about, so much so that kindness is placed ahead of the product, service, or care that is provided to the customer?

Or, is kindness supposed to happen organically while "getting the work done?"



For me, positioning kindness as a core value might be the most transformative decision any employer could make during these turbulent times. Imagine holding all of the employees from CEO to entry level team member accountable to demonstrating kindness before all other work gets done? 

What would that corporate culture feel like?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


pic

Monday, June 27, 2022

Is ‘Purpose’ A Real Thing?

Finding my purpose. That feels…heavy. 

Do I really need to identify my entire life’s purpose? Am I supposed to tell all of you about it? And, is that what I’m supposed to be doing as a career?

That feels like a lot of pressure. 

So, what does ‘purpose’ actually mean? Is it what I enjoy…or am skilled at…or what other people tell me I’m good at…or could it be something I’m really interested in but have no idea how to make happen?

Lots of questions.

More pressure.

Oh, and am I only allowed one purpose; or, can I have a bunch of purposes?

The reverse of this process is to allow my mind to wander to the things that I truly enjoy. What is most important to me, regardless of whether or not I’m ‘good’ at it or not? Does it matter if I’m effective following my purpose; or does it just matter that it’s important to me?




Maybe what matters most is that I continue to open my mind, challenge my thinking about things, and allow myself to learn and grow. That sounds like a pretty good purpose to me.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


Pic

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

My Great Balancing Failure

There are some things in my life that are so elusive that I’ve recently found myself giving up on any realistic opportunity to achieve them. One of the most elusive, and perhaps the one I’m most in need of is…

…balance.

There are many different types of balance of course: work, church, exercise, volunteering, friendships, significant-other relationships, family time, hobbies, and on and on.

Candidly, I don’t feel like I have balance in any of these areas. 

With so many books, articles and other blog posts available on this topic you would think that I had figured out a system that works best for me. 

But, no. 

My solution? Go full speed, most of the time, in everything.

And just to make things a bit more complicated…for some reason I have been blessed (or cursed) with massive amounts of energy.

So…I’m actually able to go full speed, most of the time, in everything.



Maybe I’m overthinking balance. Just maybe, balance, for me, is to do everything I possibly can, for as many people that I can, for as long as I can?

Am I on to something? Long-awaited clarity perhaps? Chasing balance may not be the goal…instead, embracing my full life might just be the answer.

What is that elusive thing for you? 

Thanks for being here.

Jay


Pic


Thursday, June 16, 2022

Old Tapes

I've made a bit of a breakthrough over the last year or so. It had to do with my willingness to be honest with myself. I mean really honest.

I needed to overcome old tapes that kept playing in my head. Tapes that told me I was never going to measure up in my personal life. Tapes that said I wasn't good enough professionally to make a real difference. Tapes that said...you're just not who you think you are.

Well, those old tapes were wrong.

It took me a while to figure that out though. Whether it was imposter syndrome affecting me, or simply that endless self-talk we all have to manage that had gone astray. I finally started to transition those tapes out of my head. Not completely though...I'm not sure they will ever go away permanently.


The difference for me is a combination of faith, a commitment to my physical health, discipline around my nutrition, and reaching out to others. New friends...old friends...and allowing myself to be more vulnerable.

That last one is a bit scary, but I'm going with it anyway.

What tapes are playing in your head?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


pic

Friday, June 10, 2022

The HR Leadership Crisis / Opportunity

It’s easy to fall into the excuse trap that “the world of work has forever changed, so now we can all lean on that as a reason to do nothing” mindset.

That approach does not work for me.

Consider the possibilities in front of us as human resources executives to:

- build a strategic plan that aligns with your organization’s growth strategy

- build a contemporary talent acquisition strategy that accelerates your employer brand

- build a proactive engagement strategy that not only protects your culture, but moves it forward in ways you had not previously considered


Am I the only one who is fired up about the potential in front of us? I hope not.

Sure, there is pressure to build these plans. But for me, that is what leadership is all about. Embrace the pressure, seize the opportunity, and lead boldly.

Let’s make this happen.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


Pic

Monday, June 6, 2022

I'm Fine

Tough topic. My mental health. And some tough questions too.

Shouldn't I have a bigger circle of close friends?

Shouldn't I be more open?

Shouldn't I be able to handle the pressure I'm under?

Shouldn't it be easy to be available for everyone who needs me whenever they need me?

Shouldn't I be strong 24/7?

It's taken a long time to sort through these. Considering the answer to each of these questions is so short, you might assume it wasn't difficult to get to that answer.

Well, it was.

Finding ways to examine how I was feeling...really feeling...took time. More importantly it took courage (at least it did for me) to look at myself and say I couldn't handle it all sometimes.

That was really hard.

So I set out finding solutions instead of just suffering. I turned more heavily to my faith; I hired a personal trainer and a nutrition coach; and I even committed to getting out on the water regularly to just...

...be.

There are people things to figure out too...that's going to take some extra time.



Oh, and the answer to all of those questions? 

It was, and still is an emphatic 'no.'

Thanks for being here.

Jay


pic

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Finding Me

Someone very close to me recently told me I needed to rediscover who I am. 

At first I wasn't quite sure what to make of that feedback. However, knowing it was sincere and said in a way that was thoughtful and caring, I knew I needed to allow myself to let that concept settle in.

So, how does one rediscover themself?

For me, this journey started with how I ended up "lost" in the first place. 

Was it a long marriage that ended in divorce? 

Was it a relationship from several years ago that just didn't quite work out?

Was it how I protected myself emotionally (despite being incredibly active with work, family, fitness, church, socializing, etc.)?

Answer: yes, to all of the above.

Wrapping my head around this has proven to be more difficult than I expected. As I'm writing, this feedback is still very fresh. 

Being vulnerable with others has not worked out for me very often. And thus, I close off emotionally even more. I bet you couldn't tell though. That probably needs to change, don't you think?


Rediscovering myself? I'm going to be very intentional about that...in fact, the process has already begun.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


pic

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

New Beginnings

Hello friends.

It's been a really long time. I've needed the break. It feels like just about every part of my world has turned upside down since I was last writing consistently. I've missed the outlet...I've missed the No Excuses community...and I've missed the chance to...breathe.

Effective leadership is still my passion; however it's time to expand this platform to address other types of leadership in addition to our careers. 

What about our mental health?

What about our relationships?

What about our faith?

What about our passions outside of work that make such a dramatic impact in all facets of our lives?

The No Excuses philosophy applies to each of these areas just as effectively as it does to the workplace.

This is the path I feel called to explore. It may not resonate with you and that is okay. No Excuses has always been personal for me. You all have been incredibly kind to give it a read once in a while and offer your perspective and for that I am forever grateful.

So, here we go...new beginnings in a comfortable place. 

Thanks for being here.

Jay



pic: