Friday, November 14, 2014

Mom Talk #27: Take Responsibility

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for the introduction and index of the posts in this 31 Days series, click }here{

Dearest Children of Mine,

You may be thinking you got off easy with only 26 posts in this 31 Days Blog Series.  But wait!  There's more!!  There are actually 31 entries for the Mom Talks series, I'm just going to need some of November to get them all in.  Because you know ... when it comes to Mom Talks, I have LOTS to say :o)

In the last post I gave you some tips for arriving on time.  Today, I'll tell you about my most embarrassing professional life moment that still makes me cringe, and the lesson I learned from it.  It has to do with cookies, responsibility, and what happens if you don't take it.

Before I quit my corporate job to be a stay at home, homeschooling Mom, I had a fabulous opportunity to work on a special project for our Vice President on a series of first ever Team Meetings for our department.  It was an opportunity for exposure that I probably wasn't quite ready for, and I certainly didn't grasp its potential.  But it afforded me some pretty slick experiences, all of which were good, with one exception that is forever immortalized in  my mind as The Cookie Incident.

Among other things on this Team Meeting project, I was responsible for ordering and organizing the post-meeting refreshments.  Well before the first kick off meeting at corporate headquarters, I placed an order with the corporate kitchen and confirmed the order should be delivered to the top floor executive meeting room.  Two weeks before the meeting, I followed up with my contact to make sure everything was in order.  Finally, the day of the meeting arrived, and about 20 minutes before the meeting concluded, I slipped out to make sure the refreshments had arrived ... only to find no refreshments ... anywhere. 

I was mortified.

I rushed downstairs to the cafeteria, which I found closed up tighter than a bank vault.  I pounded on the door to no avail, then raced to my office to call the kitchen manager on the phone.  Maybe the staff was just busy putting the finishing touches on the cookie trays and couldn't answer the door?  Alas, no answer on the phone, either.  

I went back to the meeting, wholly terrified.  I knew I should make an announcement that there would be no refreshments, but thinking about standing up in front of a hundred of my colleagues to say, of all things, "There will be no cookies" had me completely paralyzed.  It was such a stupid situation.  I desperately tried to send my boss telepathic messages across the room, hoping he would somehow bail me out, but my powers of telepathy were as efficient as my powers of getting cookies delivered that day.  The meeting ended, and a hundred people wandered around in the foyer, only to conclude that there were no cookies to be found.  

Afterward, I apologized and explained to my boss and the Vice President that I had placed the order but the cookies and drinks hadn't been delivered.  The Vice President wasn't particularly chatty and didn't say much, but it was her meeting and it made her look bad that promised refreshments hadn't been delivered.  Although no one ever mentioned the incident again, I'm sure no matter how well I performed in my job thereafter, to this Vice President, and possibly more people than I'm willing to imagine, I was:

The Girl Who Didn't Bring the Cookies.  


How I wish I had confirmed the order with the kitchen staff the day before the meeting.  But my greatest regret is that I didn't take the opportunity to transform a bad situation into a chance to shine by taking responsibility for it.  

Accepting responsibility is always the better choice.  Here are three reasons why:

When you take responsibility, you gain authority

Accepting responsibility shows your understanding of a situation, demonstrates your grasp of its implications, and displays your capabilities.  Results build credibility, and the person who takes action or addresses an issue has the authority.  It's always the person getting things done that people listen to.  When you take responsibility, you are a leader, and that gives you authority.

When you take responsibility, people give you a break

Particularly when you've made a mistake, taking responsibility moves you on and helps everyone else let it go.  If you've made a mistake, whoever is in authority over you is responsible to make sure you don't make the same mistake again.  When they trust that you understand the situation and have learned what you need to learn, they'll know you don't need further correction.  [Hint:  file this one under How to Get Mom to Stop Talking next time you're called on the carpet for something.  You will be amazed at how well it works.]

When you take responsibility, you distinguish yourself

We've all been there at one time or another, and everyone knows that when you've made a mistake, it takes guts to shoulder the responsibility.  It takes strong character to own up to a mistake, but the reward is that when you do, people remember you were tough enough not only to admit something went wrong, but to own it.  This isn't necessarily a rare occurrence, but it's gutsy enough to get you noticed every single time.

Because it gives you power to act on your situation and make things better, taking responsibility is always the better way.  When you do, you gain authority, move the focus to the next step, and distinguish yourself as a person of strong character. Always ... the better way.  

We have four more Mom Talks to go!  Next we'll talk about the importance of who you work for.

There will be no cookies.  

for the introduction and index of the posts in this 31 Days series, click }here{
thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mom Talk # 26: How to Be On Time

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for the introduction and index of the posts in this 31 Days series, click }here{

Dearest Children of Mine,

We talked about what you wear to work and the importance of suiting up }here{. Today, let's talk about how to get yourself out the door and arrive on time.

Not only does arriving on time allow you to enter a meeting, interview or social event feeling calm and focused, it conveys some extremely positive things about you:

  • You respect the other person and their time
  • You are reliable
  • You keep your word and are trustworthy
  • You manage your time and your schedule well
Being on time doesn't just happen though; you have to take steps toward it with intention. To make sure you're on time consistently, no matter where you're going, you must consider being on time to be a choice and take responsibility for it.  Here are a few things you can do to set yourself up for punctuality:

Know your route

Do your research when you make the appointment - use an online map to determine how you're going to get there, and especially note how long the drive will take you.  It's important to do this before the day of the appointment, so that this part of your plan is already done and doesn't take up your time the day you need to go.

Plan to arrive 10 minutes early, not on time

Your target arrival time is 10 minutes before the appointment, not the actual time of the appointment.  You need a moment to check in, put your coat away, pull things out of your briefcase, whatever.  Pad your time plan and consider 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment to be, in your mind, the arrival time.

Work out your schedule

Think your schedule through with precise detail, and then you can let yourself run on autopilot.  Consider how much time everything will take you:

10 minutes ... Ironing my shirt
45 minutes ... Dressing
35 minutes ... Commute
10 minutes ... parking/walking to building
100 minutes ... TOTAL 

Then add 15 minutes for the unexpected:  traffic is unusually heavy, you take a wrong turn, you can't find a parking place.  Work backwards from the time you want to arrive to figure out when you need to leave.  Thus in this example, to arrive at 9:50 for a 10:00 appointment, you need 115 minutes, or an hour and 55 minutes (you may as well round that to 2 hours), and should begin your leaving process - all those steps lined out above - at 7:50.

It helps to be exceedingly precise with this exercise.  Our brains like to round down on how long things will take, and if you aren't painstakingly specific, you'll convince yourself you can sleep a few more minutes, check this one more website, or get this one thing done.  If you know precisely what time you need to begin your process, it's not so easy to let things bleed.  

Round UP

You know it's true:  everything takes longer than you think it will.  Do yourself a favor: round up when you're calculating time required to get yourself somewhere.  Don't think in 5 minute segments, think in 10's.  Don't think in 15 minute segments, think in 30's.  

Establish your last minute checklist

Every time your Granddaddy left the house, he checked his pockets.  It went something like:  left front - pocket change, right front - keys, left rear - handkerchief, right rear - wallet.  Thus, he never left the house without these important things.  You should do the same.  Start with knowing how many things you need to be walking out the door with, and then make a mental checklist and go through it just before you head out the door every single time.  It's also a good idea to assemble the things you always take with you in the same place all the time.  That way, when you need to go somewhere unexpectedly, it's all right there ready to grab.  

Use a timer, not a clock

Finally, you should know how long it takes to drive from home to points A, B, and C.  When you leave, set your car's timer feature to zero and don't look at the clock.  That can help relieve the stressful adrenaline rush that looking at the clock can bring and will help you arrive in a more relaxed state.

If you do all these things, you'll be consistently early.  Don't let yourself think being early is a waste of your time - it's an easy investment that builds your reputation, makes you feel good about yourself,  and gives you the advantage of being collected and relaxed everywhere you go.    

for the introduction and index of the posts in this 31 Days series, click }here{
thanks for reading!