10 months in

Back in February this year, as an antidote to the usual New Year’s resolutions I mostly ignore, I wrote a post about the things I’m looking forward to in 2019 instead.

I thought it timely to reflect on my progress, or lack of progress maybe, and ask myself if it’s impacted my overall feelings on the success of the year so far.

So in the same order as before….

1. Introduce my team to David Marquet

Tick.  Done.

Responses have been mixed though.  The video was particularly well received, and the team, to a person, seemed to agree the concept Marquet discussed had merit.

Driving decisions down to where the information is, as Marquet refers, “pushing the power gradient down”, on the face of it sounds perfectly logical.  In practise though, I’ve found it’s much harder to achieve.  I’ve observed some people still find it uncomfortable when their manager gives them free reign to resolve an issue; to make a call.  In some cases people still seem to prefer the Leader-Follower paradigm, where orders are barked, and instructions are ultra-specific.

In one instance, a team member bit back and snapped “Can you stop asking me questions and just tell me what to do?”

Noted.

Like anything new, there’s a time, a place, and most importantly, a pace for implementing significant change.  My takeaway was although the concept might well be a good one, simply rolling out these kind of step changes can be problematic, and I’d definitely missed the mark when it came to setting the right pace.

I sense there’s more work to be done in creating an environment whereby the entire team not knows, but believes the leadership group will have their back if the process by which a decision is made is sound, but the outcome isn’t ideal.

When this environment truly exists, I think there’s a better chance the Leader-Leader model will set sail for greatness.

It’s me and not the concept which has failed here.  More work to do.

Spend the 9 or so minutes and watch this video.  Astonishing stuff.

2. Reading and writing more

It’s now been almost 7 months since my last post.  So this obviously hasn’t worked out at all like I had planned.

We each only have 24 hours in a day.  Sure I might sneak a few more in than most, but as with everything in life, it’s a balance.  I still read as often as I can, but the writing has fallen by the wayside.

Do I then chalk this up as the “Great failure of 2019“? and abandon the blog?

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Not because I’m happy about not writing as much, but because I’ve reconciled with myself that in my 24 allotted hours, it’s something I’m OK with doing less of (for now).

I listened to a radio interview recently, where the guest instead of writing down a list of goals or objectives to achieve this year, had written a list of things she simply wasn’t going to do anymore.  Instead of beating herself up about not reading to her kids every single night, or feeling guilty about sending the ironing out, she wrote a list of stuff she was no longer going to worry about, published it, and apparently feels as free as a bird.

It was a kind of guilt purge I guess.

I’m not at a point where I’ll abandon the writing – as I do enjoy it.  I’ve simply decided it’s fine to not do it as often.

3. Getting my boat licence

Other than spending 30 minutes one afternoon trying to find a course nearby, this has progressed very little, and I’m not much fussed at all to be honest.  Would I still like to get one?  Sure!  Am I going to die in a ditch over it? No.

It’s obvious then that I’m not as wedded to the idea as I thought I was back in February.

Interesting…..

4. Trying out a tiny house

Yes, yes and yes!  Somehow, all the planets aligned and my wife and I found ourselves with 3 kid-free nights and went to the Kangaroo Valley here in New South Wales.

It was so amazing we’ve booked in a trip later in the year to another one, this time in the Blue Mountains.

If you haven’t been to a tiny house on an isolated property before, stop reading this post and go check out in2thewild and book one immediately.  It was everything I’d imagined and more.

Incredible.  Do it.

5. Dropping number of emails by 50%

While I’ve not collected the actual data on this (I probably should), I can confidently say I’ve dropped the total number of emails I send, but by 50% I’m not sure.

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The benefit of whatever the number is has been incredible.  At first the challenge was getting over the fear of not ‘covering my ar$e’, and having the email as some sort of record.  I reflected on this a lot and came to the conclusion if I’ve spent the time making a decision / assigning a task / whatever it might be, if I’ve based this approach on a set of principles which appear to have served me well over the years (I haven’t been fired or stabbed to death yet), and I’ve somehow communicated the outcome of said approach, then I’m good to go.  If the outcome of that approach doesn’t pan out the way I’d planned, then I’ll run the whole exercise again on the bit that didn’t work and repeat the process.

Sure I keep diary notes of critical conversations, actions and agreements, but this is primarily because I have a terrible memory, but the benefit of standing up, walking over to someone’s desk and having a chat, or picking up the phone and having the same chat, has far outweighed any (perceived) risk of not having it documented on an email.

Step out of your comfort zone and ditch the email.

“There’s no growth in the comfort zone”
– Leif Babin

6. Advanced courses with the RFS

In progress.

I kicked off with the first of the Advanced Firefighter modules earlier in the year, and while there was no practical component in the module, it was a great introduction into the mindset, awareness and expectations the Service has on its advanced firefighters.

Unfortunately however, I had to pull out of the second module due to injuring my back, but I’m looking to book in 2 or 3 modules in the coming 6 months.

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7. Turning 40

Thankfully this one happened of its own accord.

I haven’t spent much time reflecting on the fact statistically speaking it’s about my half way point, as I often find myself thinking I’m still 23.

It’s strange actually now having written those words.  I do still find at work I sometimes refer to myself as the ‘young guy’, and on the odd occasion defer to older colleagues simply because of their age.  In my head, age comes experience and therefore they must simply know better by default.  While there’s no doubt with experience comes wisdom, but I’ve been doing this thing I call a career for exactly half my life now, and if the 10,000 hours concept is true, then by rights I could be considered an expert….??

Am I an expert though?  Get real.

I’m a rank amateur compared to some of the people I work with, both older and younger, and the day I consider myself an expert is the day I should be looking at doing something else.  There’s always, I repeat, always, things to learn, and the moment I stop, please please, please, someone pull me up and show me the door.

It’s timely this whole review came up, as I’m part way through reading a book called Getting Things Done – The art of stress-free productivity by David Allen.  Sounds a little self-help I know.

It’s not a book on simply how to manage a To-Do list, but a detailed method by which he explains how to transfer all those pesky reminders you file in your brain into a trusted system (digital or analogue for those interested in these things).  The aim is to then free your mind up to actually spend time doing deeper thinking, engaging with your friends, family and colleagues, or working on your hobby.

Like I said, I’m only part way through, but so far it’s been a fantastic read, and is definitely recommended.  I might even do a post when I implement his system.

Any “would, could or should” commitment held only in the psyche creates irrational and unresolvable pressure, 24/7

 – David Allen

So, after all that, and with 2020 fast approaching, am I satisfied with how 2019 has panned out so far?

For what it’s worth, it’s a resounding yes.

Sure there’s been challenges.  Sure there’s been days where I ask myself if I wouldn’t be better off selling the house, quitting my job and moving to a tiny house on a small block of land somewhere, but there’s also been spectacular days I wish would be Groundhog Day that would repeat, and repeat, and repeat.  Overall it’s been a fantastic year so far, and I see no reason yet why it won’t continue that way.

Why though?  Well one reason I think is I’m not putting too much pressure on myself anymore.  Yes I want to excel at everything I do – it’s a character flaw, but in previous years I measured myself against the results rather than the effort, constantly looked for credit rather than simply doing the work, and generally focused on the wrong things.

I credit this shift to the people I live, work and play with, the books I read, the things I listen to and the probably more so actually the things I no longer read or listen to, or even pay attention to.

I think over the last few years I’ve just learned more about how to learn.  And isn’t that what it’s all about?

How’s your 2019 going?  Did you have resolutions you set back in January?  How are you tracking?  Did you ditch the regular list and write out a list of things you’re looking forward to instead?  We’d love to hear from you!  Get in touch via our Contact page.

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