Three Trips (at least)

I know I’ve been writing about the adventures of our daughter becoming a homeowner. It’s because I’ve always been someone who experiences and sees stories come from more of everyday life than life-altering shifts. Those monumental occurrences happen so rarely compared to the beauty of what we encounter daily.

A few weekends ago, my wife and I traveled to Indianapolis for the next project on the list. Melanie purchased her “new” home when it was only 105 years old. Seriously. This fabulous abode was built in 1917. As you can imagine, with age you find new opportunities to bring things into the modern day. This weekend we were tackling her bathroom. The walls and floor needed attention. I didn’t dare try my hand at plumbing because . . . I know better.

My wife was putting her incredible organizational prowess into action while Melanie and I focused on the bathroom. We thought our projects would be “simple” and that we’d knock them out with ease. As you all know, home improvement projects are never, ever easy !! Within moments we were making a trip to the hardware store for something we didn’t anticipate we’d need.

Let me digress for just a bit . . .

My father LOVED hardware stores. That’s not an exaggeration. They were his favorite places on the planet to visit. He was content roaming up and down the aisles whether he needed something or not. Every time he visited me, he was sure to lean over during the weekend visit and gently say, “Don’t you think we need something at the hardware store?” I’d agree and we’d jump in the car to visit either the local mom-and-pop store or one of the big box behemoths. I relished those walks through the hardware store with my dad. They were some of my favorite times with him.

Now back to the present . . .

My dad’s love for all things hardware had now been ingrained in me, and I’ve been doing my best to pass this on to my kids. It just so happens that there’s a local hardware store within a mile of Melanie’s house. It’s nondescript and when you see the storefront you’re not quite sure it’s even open. I told her that we just HAD to visit the store because I was sure it would have anything we needed. She stayed back with mom and I went out to explore.

As I entered Suding Hardware, my jaw hit the floor. One of the staff greeted me with “Hey, brother. How can I help you?” I knew I was in the right place. I told him we needed something to remove/kill mold, some finishing nails for paneling, and more of “these” as I held up a fastener. He walked me through the store which was an endless conglomeration of stuff from floor to ceiling. Of course, he knew what “these” meant as he found the bin for the fastener I needed.

When I returned to the house, I made sure my daughter knew about this gem so she had a local store to visit in addition to the big box stores which got plenty of our business as well. The rule of thumb is that you’ll visit the hardware store at least three times to complete any project. This came to fruition this weekend as we visited Suding’s and Lowe’s five times. We needed to make these trips because each time we found a new component to make sure our project was a success. The trips were worthwhile and our “simple” project was finished in a mere 22 hours over two days.

I’m not complaining. This was the effort needed. The many hardware trips reminded me of work and how we choose to face obstacles sure to occur. We can either throw up our hands in exasperation bemoaning why we need to make ANOTHER trip to get more supplies, or we can embrace the chance to be better equipped. If we chose to look at adding additional trips to the business “store,” we’d understand and value that more people bring in new thoughts, perspectives, and energy.

Each project will require different involvement and unique skills. We can’t keep thinking everything we need only resides in the few people who are assigned to the tasks at hand. There’s bound to be someone who wants to greet you warmly and lead you to the part you needed that was missing.

This week make three trips (at least) to those outside your project circle and do some shopping. I’m sure you’ll find the perfect items to bring your projects to life.

Howdy !!

This past weekend my wife and I were fortunate to experience a milestone with our daughter as we helped get her new home in order. She bought her first home on her own in Indianapolis. We joined her to get things cleaned and just the way she wanted it because she wasn’t planning to move in permanently until next weekend.

Whenever you move into a new location, you wonder how the people who lived there prior to you lived. It’s a sure thing that things won’t match. Overall, the house is in good shape for being 105 years old !! Our main efforts were cleaning the inside of the house and clearing the property of landscaping that was fiercely overgrown. My wife and daughter started in on Friday for several hours before I was able to make it on Saturday.

It doesn’t take long for your body to remind you that you are no longer in your 20s !! Debbie and I kept up with the “kids” most of the time, but we were exhausted at the end of our day. I think I’ve discovered new joints in my body that I didn’t know existed years ago. When your knuckles ache just to bend your fingers, you know you’ve tapped into every part of your body. Putting some sweat equity into our daughter’s new adventure was well worth the pain.

When we hit our wall, we told Melanie we needed to stop and go eat. The word “hangry” was uttered often. We went back to her apartment, cleaned up, and headed to a nearby restaurant. The food and environment were spectacular. We felt somewhat renewed by getting something to eat. There was a tiny spark of energy that called for a well-deserved dessert. Our family loves ice cream. Probably too much to be honest.

Melanie suggested we stop by the market near her apartment where we could grab a pint or two and go back to collapse. Suddenly, she remember that a brand new ice cream shop had opened adjacent to the market. That sounded wonderful, so we decided to try it. Debbie stayed in the car and asked us to bring some back. Her day of extensive movement was done. We absolutely understood.

So, Mel and I walked down to the shop and as we opened the door, we heard an exuberant and warm greeting.

“HOWDY !!”

You couldn’t help but smile because an overt greeting of that sort is very uncommon these days. The greetings continued as we made our way to the display of beautiful vats of ice cream. Homemade ice cream !! We asked about the flavors and which ones were the worker’s favorites. The man who greeted us so gregariously told us every flavor was his favorite. We knew he meant it because of the joy that covered his face.

The same server looked at my daughter and said, “I love your shirt !!” It was a nondescript t-shirt, but she loved that he was so kind and was engaging in a conversation. We took our time getting our cups of ice cream, made sure to pay and take in the entire experience. As we were heading out the door, all four workers wished us a good night and asked us to come back again soon. We promised we would and headed on our way.

The reason this encounter was so remarkable was that Howdy Homemade Ice Cream is unique in how they hire its talent. They primarily hire team members who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Two of the four people working were special needs folks. It was glorious !! The joy, engagement, and attention we experienced were second to none. The employees were naturally intentional and loved serving us. They made sure they performed exceptionally to show their talent and make sure we benefitted from their good work.

To see an employer make such an indelible impact through its mission and hiring efforts is encouraging. To realize that all people have abilities should be foundational for every employer. They just happen to exhibit themselves differently in each person.

There is joy in this world and in the workplace !! We just need to be willing to see it, acknowledge it, and see how we too can bring joy in what we do. Maybe it starts with a simple greeting . . .

Keep it Weird !!

This past weekend, my wife and I ventured to Austin, Texas. I was fortunate to be part of the Austin SHRM Conference. We added some extra time so we could explore the city. We’re trying to do this now whenever we get the chance.

Austin has a VERY cool vibe and it felt like my kind of town. There was art and music everywhere throughout the city. Murals adorned countless buildings with styles ranging from traditional to modern to abstract. The music flowed freely through the air and it changed with every step you took. You heard folk, rock, country and bluegrass all intertwining to make a symphony of eclectic sounds that provided a soundtrack as you toured the neighborhoods.

As we wandered into our first small, local shop a coaster instantly caught my eye and I picked it up without hesitation. It wasn’t only the tie-dye pattern which would have been enough. The message resonated the moment I read it. It was an instant purchase.

You see, one of Austin’s slogans as a city is “Keep Austin Weird.” It is everywhere you look. I found out from a friend who is a resident that the slogan came about as local shops were trying to keep big box stores from coming in to crimp the cool Austin culture as well as put them under. They won out and the slogan stuck.

You see, I feel this reminder helps with how you can practice HR. We often state that we want people to bring their whole selves to work . . . but we don’t really mean it. That may sound harsh, but if you step back and review the majority of actions that HR takes, it’s not built to encourage individuality. If someone was trying to “keep things weird,” we’d take steps to get them back into the fold. We view those who express themselves openly as someone we have to “deal with.”

This has to stop. We need to understand that every person is wonderfully different and unique. They have their weird already wired in. It’s not something they create, it’s how they live. Weird doesn’t mean abhorrent behavior. We’ve made this assumption for far too long and it’s never been right. HR spends too much time trying to confine, control and conform, and it’s exhausting.

I’d rather learn how each employee I work with is unique. I’d rather see how I could encourage them to amplify their strengths and see how their approach and perspectives bring new angles to the work we have in front of us. I’d also love to see HR embrace its weirdness to breathe life, empathy, grace and a people-first approach in all we do. We have the chance to carry this mantra forward and no longer settle into the traditional approaches which are worn out.

The coaster is going to take its rightful place on my desk at work so there is always a visible reminder in front of me. This week see what YOU can do to “keep it weird” !!

Living a Legacy

This past weekend I experienced one of those milestone moments in life. My father passed away in October of 2020, but we didn’t have the opportunity to bury him at that time. That was because both of my parents decided years ago to donate their bodies to science. So, my dad first went to Wright State University then he was cremated. The pandemic then threw the proverbial wrench into this situation just as it has everything else. His headstone was delayed and we weren’t sure when we’d have the chance to celebrate him one more time.

We were fortunate to have spectacular weather and my family was all able to come home to be with my mom to support her. We traveled a mile outside of town and all gathered around his final resting place. The blue skies, billowy white clouds, and bright sun added to the peaceful breeze and covering shade under a mighty oak combined for the perfect setting for our graveside ceremony.

I was grateful to be able to be in this “final” goodbye. My dad was incredible and lived a full life. I miss him but have been at peace since 2020 with his passing. That was because he lived his legacy far more than “leaving” one.

He taught me the power of honesty, integrity and being intentional with everyone you meet and in all you do. He lived his faith publically and showered love on my mom every moment of every day. He filled our lives with humor, folksy sayings, and steadfastness you could always rely on. He was always in my corner and a ready sage to give advice, direction and encouragement.

All of these attributes have been woven into how I approach life now. Every interaction we had was a chance to teach, impact and shape me. He modeled life in how he’d like to see it in others. He never lectured, he showed. His approach was to work alongside you. Sure, we tussled, disagreed and even argued over things. It never got in the way of our relationship. It enhanced it because I always knew he loved me no matter how heated moments got.

You see, over the history of humankind a minuscule percentage of people made such a historical impact as to have had a visible and lasting “legacy.” We know their names and their contributions whether they were positive or negative. They may have attained some level of notoriety or celebrity, or their contributions affected large sections of society.

I’m not saying that you could be one of those people, but most likely you will not be. That shouldn’t inhibit you from being like my dad. You can live your legacy every day. We need to realize that we encounter people for a short period of time when we consider the times we truly cross paths. Since that is our reality, why not leave a positive mark when you meet?

If we’re honest with each other, it only takes a small situation for us to become frustrated and say things that are harmful or destructive. Someone could cut you off in traffic or not move fast enough in line. They could let you down with what they’d say they’d do or their approach is just different than you when you work together. Those negative emotions just come out and when we react, we say things we didn’t need to. It’s hard to fight back and not fall into this trap.

We have the opportunity to be more mindful. Knowing that each interaction leaves an impression may influence us to react differently. I want to be someone who lives in a manner that is intentional, positive and encouraging. When I fail others, and I will, I want to show grace and ask people to forgive me when I get frustrated or disappoint them.

I want to be someone who lives the legacy I want to leave. I won’t get to see or know if I’m “remembered”, but I have the opportunity to live in a way now that can make a difference in the lives of all I encounter. You can do this as well. I encourage you this week to join me as someone living their legacy daily.

Not in Charge

I was listening this weekend to the Top 40 songs of 1985 on Sirius XM’s 80s on 8 channel. It’s definitely one of my go-to stations because it covered the transitions of life from high school to college to starting my career in HR to marriage. It was a big decade !! A staple song of the 80’s and especially 1985 was the phenomenal “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears.

Quick aside – they have a new album that just came out in 2022 entitled The Tipping Point and it’s epic !! Now back to the post . . .

Listening to this tune for the millionth time made me reflect on how accurate the title and the lyrics are even today. When you look around society and in the workplace, people want to “rule.” It is rarely overt and clearly obvious, but there’s an underlying tone of ruling. You see it all the time in the workplace. People use titles and levels to make sure others know that they are supposedly “in charge.”

There is a real draw for people to feel in charge. I guess that’s okay if it makes sure work and communication have clarity and removes uncertainty. However, when people yearn to be in charge they tend to want to be over people in an unhealthy manner. There’s an expectation that when those in charge bark, people automatically jump without question. I’ve seen this throughout my career and it’s never been good.

There’s a modicum of assumed power that people enjoy yielding over others. It gives people a false sense of worth, influence, and attention. They feel that they are the “go-to” people when it couldn’t be farther from the truth. It can be crippling in organizations because the self-centered nature of ruling tends to lead others to work around and circumvent interactions. There is far more effort in avoiding those who try to wield their scepter in order to work with others who effectively lead.

There’s a massive misconception about leadership in that this infers being in charge. Effective leaders may get things accomplished, but the focus is rarely directly on them. You’ll find true leaders direct, shepherd, encourage and approach others willingly and naturally. Their role may afford the chance to finalize decisions, but it’s not the primary driver for them.

As HR professionals, we need to jump into the midst of breaking up the ruler complex. Instead of grousing about the behavior of people who regularly hold themselves above others, jump in and address it. Make sure people know that this approach is ineffective, limiting, and unnecessary. We need to start in our own backyard as well. Too many HR pros wield assumed power because we’ll throw out the fear and “you might get sued” excuse. This isn’t effective and never has been.

There are many ways to make sure you foster a culture of leadership versus allowing those in people management roles to rule over others. Here are three I have found most effective. They work regardless of industry type.

Model the behavior you expect in others – People respond more to what they see than what is said. You can set the standard by your example of how you work with others before you give one word of coaching or advice. Your behavior is what people respond to. Be mindful and intentional. It works.

Be aware of how you approach others – There may be no greater attribute to work on in human interactions than this. How you approach others sets the stage for productive or destructive outcomes. A collaborative, willing approach will go so much farther than ever telling/demanding people listen and respond just because you said so.

Show grace – People may not be aware of their behavior and approach. You don’t know how they’ve learned from others or what has been modeled to them. So, instead of correcting them, give them grace and meet them where they are. Shaping people into leaders takes time, effort and patience. Failure will occur and it’s hard to break from old patterns. People need to know you’re going to come alongside them in a safe way. Then, over time, they’ll respond and evolve.

This week, cue up some Tears for Fears on your Spotify and keep it playing as a reminder of what we’re facing. It’s time to transform rulers into leaders. Trust me, your organization will be better for it !!

Let’s Explore !!

A highlight of our trip to Houston was the NASA Johnson Space Center. It was a pleasant surprise because we didn’t expect it to be so rich and full. We thought we’d spend a few hours milling around and then we’d head to another site. However, we ended up spending our entire day there and we didn’t get to fully experience all the Space Center has to offer.

As we looked at the various displays, we’d get lost reading the intricate details which described each item. We saw space suits, moon rocks, different pieces of equipment used on missions and so much more. Even though it was a vast collection, I’m sure that it doesn’t even scratch the surface of all that it has taken to accomplish the many milestones and new boundaries throughout the history of the space program.

There was a common thread woven through the museum. The men and women of the space program all had a sense of adventure, a willingness to take risks, and the faith that success was sure to occur. It’s hard to grasp the depth of all that went into making space exploration a reality. The hours of math. The countless experiments. The innovative new materials that were developed. You can’t possibly name all of the different things that came to life prior to any semblance of the level of technology we have today.

They were, and are, explorers. They have a perspective of always looking ahead to what could possibly happen. It evolved from rockets, to space flight, to Skylab to the International Space Station, and possibly flying to Mars. The telescopes and satellites keep reaching farther and farther to the ends of our galaxy trying to capture visuals of the universe itself !! It’s fascinating and ever-changing.

Of course, it made me think of Human Resources. I thought to myself – What would HR look like if we reached for the next horizon?

You have to know we’re the ONLY profession that is far too self-reflective while also being self-destructive. We aren’t looking for what’s ahead. Instead, we bemoan all that is “wrong” and our endless shortcomings. If you spend any time at all reading about HR or taking in webinars and conference presentations, you hear the message of endless fixing and patchwork attempts to repair a never functioning industry.

Yuck. Seriously. Does that type of approach make ANYONE excited about being in our field? We’re having ongoing, in-depth arguments about how to “rename” what we do thinking that will position us to finally take on a tangible, relevant leadership mantle. It needs to stop. Now.

I think we need to be explorers !! We need to look out into the abyss of our profession and the approach of our organizations and see how we can venture out to reshape, redefine and renew it all. If we were more like astronauts, we’d eagerly work toward seeing what’s next. We’d have the passion and anticipation of making a discovery that would alter how work is done and how people are treated.

We need to take all of the good work that has been done in HR and treat it as a solid foundation from which to launch. We need to cease retreading one program and initiative after another hoping to uncover a hidden gem. They may exist, but not in what we’ve done so far.

It’s time for us to explore. I’m tired of listening to the message that tears our profession down. I believe in what we do. I believe in humans and that most of them are good. I know that companies can be people-first AND perform !! We can reach heights never before seen or thought of.

Will you join me as we tackle the immense, complex and inviting HR universe which lies before us? I hope you will !!

Intersections

As much as we’d like our lives to play out in a straight line, they just don’t. We’d love to live in such a manner that we have only positive experiences and little to no conflict. It sounds perfect, but we know this isn’t the case. We can go through ups, downs and quick moves sideways within the same hour !!

Since this is our reality, we have a choice to try to maneuver through this erratic pattern alone or with others to come alongside us. Honestly, too many people are trying their best to just slog through whatever is facing them primarily on their own. I don’t think they’re trying to be defiant or elusive. I just think it’s just the messaging we believe or hear from others. We don’t want to put someone out because of what we’re facing. We’re sure we’d be a burden and it’s not that big of a deal really.

I don’t buy it. We weren’t created to go through life alone. We’re wired to be connected and available for those that pass through our lives. We all have intersections we go through over time. They may be life events like school graduations, marriages, getting a job or death. Those types of intersections get the most attention, but they are few and far between over the course of our lifetime. There are a multitude of other times when our paths cross with other people.

Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

At the crack of dawn this past Friday, I was buying some donut holes at our local Meijer to take to my men’s group when I encountered Jane at the self-checkout. I was the only patron in the store and her eyes lit up when I walked up to scan my items. She asked if I was ready for the Spring snowstorm which was predicted for Saturday morning. I said I was, and then she told me it would be “nothing” compared to what she was used to.

One thing to note – Jane is most likely in her mid to late 70’s. She is a treat and she seems to be working at Meijer 24/7. Back to the story . . .

She went on to tell me about growing up on a 500-acre farm that had livestock and crops. She shared details about monumental snowfall, endless chores, hard work, and how she loved every moment. I also learned about the family restaurant her parents started after her father sold the farm so her mother could continue to work. She was tickled that it was one of the few restaurants on the way from Cleveland to Pittsburgh so everyone who passed by would inevitably stop in to try her mom’s famous cooking.

I was just checking out to buy some donut holes.

However, Jane wanted to connect and talk. She felt the need to share her life and be a welcoming start to my day. I had a feeling that she’d have these impromptu conversations with anyone who was willing to stop and give her a few minutes. I met her at an intersection. Those few minutes were rich, meaningful and worthwhile. It was a great way to start the day !!

Yesterday, as I was reading through Twitter, I saw a tweet from an HR peer who shared about his current job search. He was being vulnerable and shared his frustration. He was questioning whether he should stay in HR or not. This caught my attention because someone tagged me and a handful of other practitioners as examples of people who believe in HR. They noted that we do our best to encourage, elevate and move the field forward.

I didn’t take this as a pat on the back. I saw it as another intersection. I sent a direct message to the young man working to land his next great HR role and offered to help him in any way I can. We don’t live in the same city and I don’t yet know what he is/isn’t looking for or what his journey has been. However, I know that I can do something with my network to try and open a door for him. We’re talking on Tuesday and I can’t wait to get to know him more and see where it leads.

I don’t believe these encounters are random or coincidental. I look for people intentionally all the time. I make myself available in the event an intersection presents itself. Also, I’m open and looking for others when I’m crossing intersections in my life. I welcome those who take the time to stop and listen.

This week make sure you’re looking for intersections with those who cross your path. Or, if you need someone to meet you at your intersection, be open to whoever shows up. The key to either way is to not just walk past. Stop and see what happens !!

Let Love Rule

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a self-avowed HR Hippie. I dig the vibe, approach and general sentiment of seeking balance in all areas of life. That includes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Before you read further, please know this isn’t a New Age post. I’m just sharing a viewpoint from my perspective that I’ve seen work over and over.

Just when we think that the world is coming to its senses, we find it pulling itself apart once again. Like most, I’m very concerned with all that is unfolding on the world stage. It’s a bit daunting because I’m sitting on my laptop thousands of miles away while others are wondering about their basic safety. To try and position anything of note during this time seems incongruent and frivolous. However, life continues to move in and around us while the conflict advances.

I feel that we’re in a time when we could reach out to each other intentionally instead of following the feeling that the fabric of society continues to unravel. It may seem like we’re in a loop of self-destruction everywhere we turn. I don’t want to succumb to that myself, and I don’t want to see those around me breaking down either. In the end, we can take action in a measured and effective way.

We can choose to love others regardless of how they treat us. You may feel that’s naive and Utopian, but as I mentioned before, it works. The difference is that I’ve seen it work when you stop to notice the individual in front of you. Mass efforts may bring a swell of great intentions, but they’re not sustainable. Most people also don’t have the capacity to effectively continue with a large number of relationships. This shouldn’t dissuade you though from approaching others from a loving vantage point.

I can hear the detractors screaming that we can’t say, or show, that we love our employees at work. It’s out-of-bounds or unwanted. People only desire a professional, arms-length relationship with their employer. It’s bad HR and bad practice in general to express love for others in the workplace.

I disagree.

Today, more than any time that I can recall, people are looking for ways to anchor and belong. That is true personally and professionally. This is much deeper than “engagement.” Every day in my role, I spend the vast majority of my time intentionally one-on-one with people. I know firsthand that this matters to their wellbeing, their balance, and how they will most likely approach others. It doesn’t matter if I’m spending time with fellow executives or people on the front line. They want to be seen, heard, valued and understood. They want to share their thoughts, opinions, joys and concerns.

Therefore, I choose to love them so that all of those actions can happen openly and without any sense of fear or hesitation. Please don’t misconstrue this as something that is flowery and squishy. Just the opposite. It is very intentional, respectful and direct. When people know that you are seeking them out and paying attention to them, you are going to be more successful than not in helping them feel safe, perform and thrive.

I may not be able to change the world stage, and I ache for those who are facing situations and an environment that is potentially life-threatening. I can, however, chip away and show a different way one person at a time. I can choose to let love rule.

A Blogging Quandry

I have a wandering mind. At times, I’ll sit and ponder things just to work through different thoughts, ideas, or explore several angles to consider things. It’s not easy for me to hear something that is shared by someone else and instantly take it just as it was stated. It’s like looking at a painting in a museum. If you stand in front of it long enough, you’ll discover more and more that you initially didn’t even notice. If you listen to others as they pass by the same painting, you’ll hear how they take in the art and it may not include anything you witnessed or felt.

I love that about humans !! We were intentionally created differently. No one person is the same. As much as we’d like more conformity in the hope that we’d have less variety and variability, it’s folly. All of these meanderings have been creeping into my thoughts pushing me to grapple with this urge to respond.

Blogging is an outlet for me. It has been since I started writing on this site 11 years ago. What started as a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law has become a blank canvas that allows me to empty my mind of the constant flow of movement and gathering of thoughts and observations. I enjoy sitting down once a week on Sunday afternoons to stare at the white screen and start typing. It refreshes and fulfills me.

You see, I was a post-early adopter of blogging. I knew of several folks I am fortunate to also call friends who had started sharing content in 2007 and 2008. I loved learning from them and allowing them to expand my horizon and viewpoints not only on HR, but on business, music, and life in general. Back then, you couldn’t keep up with the multitude of authors. It seemed like people had found a platform where they could share and reach audiences around the world. The conversations that had been taking place inside the four walls of offices now had an endless landscape that was no longer bound by geography, language or time zones.

When I joined in, it was exciting and the array of blogs grew, expanded and flourished. Unfortunately, that energy and focus has waned. I should have guessed this would be the case because every format of communication has a season. Blogs turned into podcasts, webinars and conference sessions. Some even became books trying to capture a compilation of posts like the old “greatest hits” albums you could get from your favorite musical artist.

I’m not trying to be overly sentimental or critical. As time passes, things change. I do have one concern though that I want to point out so we don’t revert to times before blogging.

Image from Editorial Cartoonists – Cox & Forkum

You see, prior to blogging and social media, the HR profession was barely connected. There were pockets of professionals that may have met in person in their city or town, but they didn’t have access to much new information. The profession was predominantly about compliance and tactics. You never heard about anyone who tried to break through and change this approach. It was like an endless cul-de-sac which looped and looped eternally waiting for the next legal update to be issued.

When blogging began, it was similar to explorers pushing past the existing boundaries and refusing to stay in the loop. I get the feeling now that a new loop is starting to form because the dawn of exploration has diminished. People are settling back into the pockets of their sphere of relationships and are starting to make smaller and smaller cohorts.

Within their group, they are still effective and engaged. What’s missing are the voices who are still curious, uncomfortable and disruptive. People willing to challenge the norm and seek new ways to evolve and create. People eager to keep the flame of exploration alive so that the “next” great horizon can be uncovered and developed.

This isn’t a call to return to the golden days of blogging. However, it is a gauntlet to throw down and not let our profession settle and step back. There is so much that is yet unknown. There is so much that is yet to exist. There is so much room to encourage, push forward and elevate humanity. We can’t fall back. We can’t dissipate. It may be daunting, tiresome and overwhelming to maintain the call to move ahead. But we must.

And, so I blog . . .

Time to Develop

We live in a world of “instants.” We desire instant affirmation, adoration and adulation. We are impatient during our commutes, the delivery of goods that we order or any time we are required to wait in any line of people more than one. We truncate our communication and make broad decisions based on snippets of words without seeking, or asking for, context.

We binge our entertainment and get frustrated when the next season may, or may not come out. For those who can’t even sit through an entire show, we consume TikTok and YouTube videos in larger volumes which ironically take the same amount of time. We have even bought into the thought that these behaviors help us “relax” when they seem to make us more entrenched in taking in more and more.

Put on top of this environment that we have raised at least two generations of humans who know no other reality. Every moment of their lives has happened at an exponential pace. Every. Moment. They only know immediacy and wonder why those who are older fight against what they see as normal. Add to this the rapid expectation of work, reward and advancement are pressing its way into the workplace and culture of every company.

Don’t think that I’m positioning this as a complaint. I personally am someone who has realized the climate I live in even though I’m old enough to remember when you couldn’t get access to almost anything you wanted instantly. In fact, the majority of my life has been lived before the age of instancy. It’s something that is starting to reemerge in the workplace. People want to know how to slow down, how to breathe, and how to develop.

I fondly remember the days when we had cameras that required actual film. It seemed nearly impossible to load the camera correctly with the roll of film the first time. You then had to advance the film until you saw the indicator on the back of your camera show the number “1” just to get ready to take a picture. After all of that effort, you had to hope that the scene you wanted to capture held still enough for the click of the button for the mechanism to close and open to imprint the negative image on the film tucked away inside the camera. You couldn’t even enjoy the picture you took until the entire roll of film had been used AND after you dropped it off to get developed.

Ironically, I don’t ever remember anyone complaining that this process took so much time. You had actual anticipation when you went to the drug store to pick up the prints to see if the pictures even turned out well. The issue of time was built into the art of photography whether you were an amateur or a professional. You couldn’t make it go faster. You were at the mercy of taking your time in order to enjoy the outcome.

This is what is reemerging in the workforce even today. People yearn to be developed more than being measured. They want the time and attention of their managers, their peers and senior leadership. Employees understand that this desire exists even in the middle of the mad rush of the day. Many are now choosing to make the decision to change jobs and/or companies. I think this is happening in part because companies are choosing to not take the time to develop people.

This is a giant blind spot. We keep fostering the myth that pace and production are far more important than people equipped to perform. HR would be an even more strategic leader if they’d be willing to step up and fight the myth. I have made a conscious effort to put development as a priority this coming year and going forward. It’s something that I hope to assess, define and create on a person-by-person basis from executive leadership throughout the organization.

I’m not quite sure what it will look like, but I know that it’s needed and that people are longing for it. Time is our best ally if we choose to use it intentionally as we continue to move rapidly. Development can happen in every company naturally as long as there is someone willing to stem the tide.

You see, I love that I can now take a picture whenever I want with the “camera” on my phone. I’m grateful for the advancements in technology that have improved this process because now I have more time to develop those I work with. Reallocate your time. Adjust who gets your attention. Take time to develop others. You’ll love the pictures that come from doing it well !!