As we find ourselves at the doorstep of the last quarter of 2023, it's an opportune moment to reflect on the time that's left and the incredible potential it holds. We have 101 days or 2,424 hours or14 weeks and 3 days left, which translates to roughly 27.67% of this year.
What are you going to do with it?
Consider this: What could you achieve in just 21 days, let alone 101 days from today? The journey from now until the end of the year is not only about setting goals but also about nurturing the habits and mindset that will propel you towards your desired outcomes and a better 2024.
So, let's start by asking ourselves a few crucial questions:
1. What habit do you want to establish for the final stretch of 2023?
2. What specific accomplishments do you want to achieve?
3. What experiences do you want to create for yourself?
4.How do you want to feel on the 31st of December 2023
It's not enough to merely define these objectives; the key lies in taking consistent, deliberate actions to make them a reality.
One of the biggest pitfalls is that we self-sabotage because we don’t want to pick a focus area. Your pick doesn’t have to be the perfect one. It is not set in stone and you can realign at any time but do me a favour and JUST PICK SOMETHING….
By picking nothing you fall into the stream of other people’s goals, ambitions and outcomes, which frankly are seldom to your benefit.
For the final stretch of 2023, I want to encourage you to "Pick yourself" as Seth Godin always says 😊 By doing so, you take control of your path, ensuring that the last 101 days of 2023 are driven by your agenda, not someone else's.
The canvas of 2023 is not fully painted yet, and there's ample time to add those strokes that will make it a masterpiece. So, define your goals, take action, and upgrade yourself.
Today I want to remind you that your mindset determines the quality of your decisions, your stress levels, the state of many of your relationships and your general wellbeing.
As many of you are aware, South Africa is experiencing major energy issues with scheduled black outs as much as 8 hours a day over the last few weeks, making the normal day to day things you need to complete a real challenge.
I am writing this while listening to the now very familiar hum of my inverter.
And it got me thinking that it is not the lack of electricity, it is the low level, long term irritation and inconvenience. Having to do an evening meeting with solar lamps (looking like you are telling ghost stories by the camp fire), eating and preparing meals at odd times, not being able to wash your laundry when you want to. Weak wifi signal which could go down at any time...juggling client work so you can get everything done before the inevitable darkness returns.
Not massive things....just ongoing and relentless...
This week I watched an interview with a former engineer and now lecturer in the energy generation space and what was most interesting was NOT what he said about the power supply and infrastructure but what he said about mindset...and that got me thinking!
He said that we need to
1. Plan our day according to when energy is available - same goes for your own energy supply. Do the heavy lifting while you feel good.
2. Stop moaning, it won't change a single thing. In fact it will make it MUCH harder to address or accept the problem.
3. Do your research and make better plans - it is not your resources, it's your resourcefulness
4. You do not need to always throw money at the problem, infact sometimes that is the least efficient solution and the laziest
I am sharing these today because they are also great pearls of wisdom for life in general.
So, my challenge, my call to action today is, no matter what minor inconvenience or major challenge is stressing you out right now, take a moment to think about your thinking...
· Are you in the victim space?
· Are you resigned that it is, what it is?
· Are you just exhausted from struggling for so long?
· Does every small stress erode your happiness just a little more?
What do you need to refill your cup? How do you build the resilience you need to keep going? What should you be telling yourself about this situation?
I can't answer these questions for you but I can answer them for myself, but I wanted to prompt you on these as we proceed into the weekend. My focus, I want to spend time with people I care about, I want to have a good belly laugh and be in the sunshine - that is just the tonic for me! Let me know what works for you!
Master your mindset and the rest will become much easier to manage!
The winning starts within.
Today, I wanted to chat to you about learning...
I want to start by asking, are you a good learner?
In the future the successful 'learners', the active learners will thrive, in fact it has already been identified as one of the Top Skills for 2025. So I urge you not only to think about learning in terms of formal development but as a daily opportunity wherever you find yourself.
THE BIG DON'TS
1. Do not only develop for your skill deficits, look at your top skill and how you can boost it to the next level. Great careers are built on your areas of excellence so put in the work there too
2. Do not try to attend everything! Fomo with all the training events and conferences can get overwhelming. Be decerning and think about the value you are looking for
3. Do not make your development, someone else’s job - it is not your exec or HRs responsibility - it's called PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT for a reason
4. Do not buy into the myth that training has to cost money - there are literally a bazillion free resources online, your investment is the time!
5. Do not take for granted that you are getting management training FOR FREE, by virtue of your role and proximity to the management teams.
4. Do not get into the mindset of 'there is nothing left to learn' - that is NOT the world we live in anymore!!!
Being able to learn and develop will be one of the most essential elements in evolving our profession and your role in it, for the future. It will help us find specialisations, areas where we can add additional value and help us deal with challenge and change!
“We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” — Peter Drucker
So remember - First you learn and then you earn!
When we are confronted with negative feedback our gut instinct is to feel hurt and defensive. So how do we cope with this in a mature and constructive way?
1. Remove your ego.
2. Ask yourself is the feedback valid?
3. Taste and opinions differ so you won't always get things 100% right, newsflash you are not psychic, and you are not a machine! Stop and think about what the person is asking you, what they want and why they want it? ASK MORE QUESTIONS AND TRY AGAIN
4. Remember that constructive feedback gives you something to work on (an important factor for anyone who wants to keep improving)
5. ALSO remember that there is a difference between constructive feedback and criticism. Be discerning enough to know the difference and choose what to take onboard.
6. Monitor your emotions - the other person is expressing what they need, not trying to break you down or tell you that you are not good enough. Take feedback in the spirit it is given and don't take it personally. It is about a specific piece of work, not about you as a human being
7. REMEMBER you cannot be all things to all people and that is ok! Know when to move on if you need to!
Take the feedback, use it as fuel to improve or as a signpost to make a change - either way you WIN!
We are all human, we make mistakes and get the brief wrong - that is not a deal breaker, the deal breaker is when we think we are too clever to learn or too perfect to improve. If you create, if you innovate, you will fail from time to time but remember either you win or you learn!
Have a wonderful week and please remember to check out The Assistant Lab, a new podcast that I am hosting with my colleague and dear friend Victoria Wratten of EPAA https://theassistantlab.buzzsprout.com/ we would really appreciate your support!
Today I wanted to talk to you about choices.
Not all the choices I have made have worked out, not all of them served me or made sense to others but they are MINE!
Sometimes there is no perfect choice, only the one you can live with, and avoiding the choice is one in itself, you then have to deal with the status quo or the choice that somebody else makes for you. Which is significantly worse (most of the time)
We all face tough decisions, cross-roads, detours and times when we need to reinvent or change trajectory. The most powerful thing you can do is be decisive, practical in your approach and not look back with regret. Do not delay, do not see the choice as a loss of another opportunity. Don't get stalled in life because you don't want to make the call between option one and two!
EVERY choice you have made has brought you to where you are NOW!
Don't like where you are? There is great news....you have the power to make better choices from today to get you to where you really want to be.
Each choice comes with unexpected impacts on your life but also unexpected blessings. Wishing you could go back and do one thing differently would have a ripple effect on everything else (the butterfly effect), so stop looking back to that one incident, that one bad decision, the choice you made when you didn't know any better.
Be present, think about what you want your future to look like and create the habits to support that future vision.
Your next step doesn't need to be a big one, you just need to start with the next smallest step, the next smallest choice and be consistent.
We are facing something invisible,
Something life threatening,
Which changed our entire world in a blink of an eye.
Everyone of us has lost something or someone.
Nothing is the same anymore...
There is absolutely nothing normal about the "new normal"
It's OK to be sad,
It's OK to be grumpy and tired
It's OK to be chubby
It's OK not to feel like yourself!
This is hard!
I look around at what is happening in technology, communication and in business and see disruption in every sphere of work and life. I worry that our profession is not thinking about what we need to do to compete and survive in this rapidly and radically changing environment.
It’s like there is a bit of denial at play, a perception that all of this will not at some point profoundly impact us too. Much of the what I see in the market and development for assistants is “business as usual” and I want to raise the alarm and say that this is a dangerous path to take. If we remain complacent, we are facing serious challenges for the profession.
It is estimated that 800 million people will lose their jobs to AI and robots. It is logical to assume it will impact us too. We must fundamentally rethink the role, its requirements and skill sets.
I am not a futurist but from my own research and contact with senior leaders globally I think that we should start to focus on the following 5 criteria to future-proof our profession and to start preparing ourselves for what is to come.
If you are not developing your skills and elevating the potential value that you can have in your organisation you can very simply and efficiently be replaced with a cheaper option, human or otherwise.
You need to ask: what are the problems I could solve? What knowledge do I need to acquire? Am I following industry publications for both the business as well as the EA profession? Am I using the documents that cross your desk daily and the meetings I attend to build your business acumen? Am I exploring a specialisation or a technical/industry specific competency?
There is nothing wrong with traditional EA type training, but we also need to explore beyond this in intelligent ways to ensure that we expand our roles to fit our organisations and the future.
My opinion is that we need to assemble short courses/certificates and create our own custom curriculum. Formal qualifications and even our school system is not really in a position to prepare us adequately for the future and the rate of change we are experiencing.
I also want to note it here that development is not HR’s responsibility and there are tons of FREE online resources some from top international institutions like Stanford University. You only need to commit the time, so there is no excuse.
And for those who turn down training or think they know it all, it is already too late.
2. Creativity and Innovation
This is a valuable and sought-after ability in all companies today. Creativity is like a muscle and can be developed with practise and intent. I want to challenge you to look for opportunities to solve the problems in your teams/company and community. Listed below are some great tips I found on becoming more innovative from various sources:
a. Just start. Keeping an idea in your mind doesn’t make it better or lead to a product. It’s not the idea that is valuable but the execution.
b. Collaborate with others and share ideas. More people, equals more and better quality ideas. This has been proven by research. Cognitive diversity matters. If everyone agrees with you or has the same point of view/background/job/nationality/culture it is unlikely that you will come up with something truly creative and unique.
c. Think in terms of options or possibilities, not problems. Be ok with failure. Ask questions like ‘what if’ and “yes, and…”. Creativity needs space and permission to be wrong, make mistakes and look stupid. If people don’t feel safe, they will not innovate. In the words of Elon Musk (probably one of the world’s most daring innovators) “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough”. Perfectionism and caring about other people’s opinions of you is the enemy of innovation.
d. Learn as you go along. Newsflash, no one else knows what they are doing either. It is ok to say “Yes” and then figure it out.
e. Focus on visual elements and information. 40% of your brain’s resources are utilised for processing visual inputs. It’s a powerful tool so use it! Visual components often stimulate new and very exciting ideas. Most importantly visual inputs do not need language so immediately put another part of your brain to use.
f. Break the frame of the problem. Take the issue out of its context, see it another way. This will create fresh ideas and new connections. Change your perception physically and emotionally.
I want to HIGHLY recommend the book Non-Bullshit Innovation by David Rowan and his various YouTube videos to you and your teams as a brilliant starting point with amazing case studies.
This is about empathy, service and love. This is the work that is sorely needed in the world today and something Alexa cannot do. What can you bring to your team to help with engagement and morale? How can you provide a superior customer experience? In a world with a lot of competition and similar products, customer service is a major differentiator and valued, it’s premium work.
4. Role expansion
Our roles will have to change and evolve. Are you keeping an eye on what your team and companies changing requirements are? Your job description and role should not be the limit of what you are willing to do and achieve, because if it is, you will not be levelling up and staying relevant. BUT HERE IS THE FINE PRINT – I am not advising you to allow yourself to be abused or exploited. Yes, by all means deliver beyond your job spec and exceed expectations but know your worth, have the confidence to be assertive and get what you deserve for the value you deliver. You should be the CEO of your own company and sell skills and time to your employer. Always be on the look-out for new “products” and “services” you can sell to your “client”.
I truly believe that the right attitude is the first and main requirement for this role. All the skills can be taught if the person is positive, diligent and concern about the quality of work they deliver. Be a life-long learner and have a growth mindset. Develop resilience and the ability to deal with and dissipate stress for yourself and your manager.
If Uber was the great disruptor for transportation and Netflix for entertainment, what will be our big disruptor? One thing I can tell you is that I don’t believe it will be Alexa. What worries me is that we are not thinking about it, we are not trying to prepare for it or actively create ,it but it is inevitable…
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