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 !!

No Strangers Here

This past weekend I was able to enjoy a great birthday gift. My grown kids know me so well, and they pulled their funds together to get me tickets to see a Xavier University basketball game. Ever since I moved to the Cincinnati area in the mid-’80s, I’ve followed and been a fan of, Xavier basketball. The other cool aspect of this incredible gift was that it was an away game against Butler University which is in Indianapolis where my daughter now lives. So, we got to go to the game together. My son lives in the San Diego area and it would have been even greater to have him there, but he couldn’t make it.

If you’ve never been to Butler University, they play in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse where part of the iconic movie, Hoosiers, was filmed. Walking into this arena was amazing in its own right. I’ve always been the fan who gets to games early and I stay until the very end. I have indoctrinated my kids with this expectation, and they enjoy doing this as well. My daughter and I sat in our seats in a predominantly empty stadium taking in all of the sites. Slowly, the arena began to fill up, and seats were becoming occupied. You always wonder who’s going to sit next to you, or if the seats next to you will remain open giving you a little more room to not feel cramped.

As I looked to my right, I saw a frail, elderly couple come into our row with a middle-aged couple. As they worked slowly toward their seats, the older gentleman leans down to me with an extended hand and says, “Hi there !! I’m Chip.” I know he saw my immense smile as I shook his hand and replied, “Hi there !! I’m Steve.”

He settled into his seat and then leaned over. He saw my Xavier hat and sweatshirt and wryly he stated, “Steve, just want you to know I won’t be rooting for your team tonight.” I warmly replied, “That’s okay Chip. I’m not going to be cheering for yours either.” He chuckled and we started a conversation. He asked if I was from Indianapolis and if I was with my daughter. He told me about his attending every game he could and that he wished they would play better. He was incredibly welcoming and we talked as if we’d known each other for years. He was very approachable and naturally comfortable with me even though we had never met.

He didn’t view this encounter as something odd or forced. He genuinely wanted to connect and make sure that I enjoyed my time visiting “his” school. We talked throughout the entire game gently ribbing each other about the plays, the fouls, the crowd, the cheerleaders and the overall experience. It was magical. I lost my Dad just over a year ago and it was as if I was sitting with him one more time. It couldn’t have been better. We said “Goodbye” to each other at the very end of the game even though Xavier ended up with the win over his beloved Butler Bulldogs.

I thoroughly enjoyed Chip and was touched that he didn’t see me as a stranger. He would have greeted whoever was seated next to him. I’m sure of it. He wasn’t awkward or too forward. To him, it was the most natural interaction possible. It was honestly refreshing to meet Chip and have such a memorable time with him. I wouldn’t have classified him as an extrovert. He was purely someone who felt that it was better to know who was next to him.

It reminded me how people have an innate need to connect and belong. We want to share our lives together and not be strangers. Too often we put up invisible barriers or do our best to avoid each other. I know it may seem a bit naive or old-fashioned to be so open to meeting others as Chip did. However, I’d beg to disagree. I think it’s heartwarming and missing in today’s society.

I may never cross paths with Chip again in this life, but he reminded me to be open and willing to extend a greeting to those around me. It is something I plan to do on a regular basis. No strangers. Just new connections.

This Year . . .

2022. It’s a New Year and I have to be honest, I’m looking forward to what lies ahead. You see, when this post goes live, I’ll actually be a year older myself. It’s one of the things I’ve learned to accept in having a birthday so close to the holiday season. I used to be bothered by its proximity to the festivities, but now it just marks time.

I don’t mind getting older. Sure, I have more aches, pains, and creaks than when I was younger. That isn’t as enjoyable, but it’s expected. I’m inching ever so closely to have been on this planet for six decades (I’m within 2 years) which is astounding to me. This is fairly significant for my dad’s side of the family because we haven’t had a ton of “older” people. I hope I’m fortunate to break that cycle and set a new standard.

It’s intriguing to me to listen to others I work with, interact with, and observe. The uncertainty that gripped the world over two years ago is still as present as ever. The lack of patience, grace, and willingness to hear differing opinions still get more attention than those who regularly are practicing these behaviors. I’m not discouraged by this because I feel the positive side of people will always win out. It may just take some time and diligence.

I’ve never been a person who makes lists, resolutions or goals. I know that works for many and admire people who can create and follow these methods. I haven’t followed these approaches because I get caught up in interactions with others. I want to take each one in and cherish them. That sounds Utopian, but it’s true. Not every conversation goes well and there are times of conflict just as much as there are times of collaboration. That doesn’t concern me. Every conversation has the opportunity to be full, rich and interesting. I can’t get enough of them.

Interestingly enough, one of my dear friends, Garry Turner, caught my attention when people were wishing each other a Happy New Year. His message stood out to me in the midst of several folks sending warm sentiments. He wanted to wish me a year that would be “impactful.” That stuck with me and gave me the impetus I needed to look forward going into 2022.

Choosing to make an impact has a deep meaning for me. You see, you make an impact of some sort with every exchange you have with other folks. Those times can either be positive or negative. There’s no guarantee as to the outcome. However, you personally can take steps to hopefully have a positive result in your demeanor, tone and intentionality.

Having the knowledge that you can move behavior in a constructive way is being impactful. Valuing the other person’s time, opinion and circumstances are also factors in how successful you can be. You can’t predict or control how others will respond or how they’re entering the interaction. However, you have all of the control as to the direction conversations can take.

It’s not possible to know all that will come throughout this new year, and I’m good with that. Regardless of that, I’m going to be more mindful of making a positive impact on those I connect with. I may miss the mark at times, but I want those to be an exception. I hope you’ll join me so that this coming year is filled with impactful encounters. The more we have positive interactions, the more uncertainty that we have been moving through will begin to dissipate. Let’s go make an impact !!

Clear the Fog !!

Last week I was getting ready for work like I normally do. After having breakfast, I loaded up my laptop and jumped into my car to head to my office. I’ve been working in person (safely) for the majority of the pandemic.

(Quick aside – I am fortunate to work for a regional pizzeria company and I made the decision to be in person because our amazing Team Members have been in person every day. I wanted to make sure to support them. Now back to the post . . .)

I turned on my favorite morning radio show and 45 minutes later I pulled into the parking lot. There was nothing notable about my commute. But, that was the problem. I didn’t recall a single moment of the commute. No recollection of whether the traffic was heavy or not. No idea if someone cut me off or if I drove too close to someone myself. I don’t recall the weather or what was playing on the morning show. The only thing I remember is parking my car and heading into my office.

That’s not good. It was as if I was in some fog that clouded every facet of my morning. When I arrived at work, I couldn’t say I was “prepared” for the day at all. I was unconsciously going through the same pattern I had become accustomed to. Later that day, I felt like I was lost and the fog kept infringing on all that was going on.

Sound familiar? I don’t think I’m alone in this at all. I understand that people head to their jobs because they’re used to the patterns that define how they face their day. This is true whether you’re working in person or remotely. What are you missing when you’re mind is covered in fog? The truth is, you’re not sure.

The whole experience was unnerving and I was shaken about it when I headed out to lunch. I don’t want to be a person who goes through the motions of work, has convenient conversations, plods through project work, and then heads back home feeling I’ve had a “day.” Not a full day. Not a day that seemed to slip away, but a “day.”

I was determined to clear the fog that had so easily encapsulated my mind the very next day. I’m sure there are a myriad of methods and approaches that people postulate to clear one’s head. I’m also sure that following prescriptive steps works for some. I’m not that person. I knew I needed to break my pattern and I kept it simple. Before jumping into my car in the garage, I walked outside and looked around. I slowed down to take some deep breaths and listened to the birds chirping in the trees. The brisk winter breeze slapped at my cheeks and even brought some tears to my eyes.

I felt more centered and aware of my surroundings. I then committed to stay aware of all that I saw and heard. When I did this, it seemed like color entered my line of sight once again. I saw things that had been there for some time as if they were brand new. I enjoyed everything as I took them in. The fog dissipated right away. I felt more energized and eager to take on the day. I no longer felt trapped in a haze. The day was enjoyable right off the bat.

I was able to consider the items and situations I was going to face. I looked forward to interacting with everyone once again and I felt renewed. I know that I need to be intentional in taking steps like this so that brain fog doesn’t creep back in and fill my head. I’m sure that I could fall back into the mists very easily if I don’t stay on top of this.

I wanted to share this story because I have a feeling that there may be others around you who struggle with brain fog themselves. You may be the nudge that breaks through for someone else. They may not realize they are meandering themselves.

There is too much to life to be covered in layers of fog. Take the steps that work for you to make sure your mind stays clear and sharp, and be alert that you may be able to help others as well. Let’s clear a path so we can take in all that is ahead !!

Be the Spark !!

I’ve never been someone to sit on the sidelines. Whatever the situation or opportunity is, I tend to fully jump in quickly. I may make a quick assessment of what is going on around me, but I guess I feel more comfortable diving in than waiting around. I am not the kind of person who waits for “just the right time” to get involved. Most of the time, things have worked out well by following this approach. There have been a few misses. I’m sure that’s going to occur if you are someone who also jumps in.

The reason I have always leapt first is that I’ve been surrounded by others who did the same thing. My parents were always active at home, at our school, our church and in the community. Those I was close to were also people who felt more “complete” the more they were involved in a variety of groups and activities. The model was community and involvement. I rarely remember a time when we weren’t in situations involving several people coming together.

I describe my time in high school as being involved in almost every extracurricular club that was offered. The clubs ranged from athletics to academics to the arts. In most of the groups I participated in, I also took on a leadership role. I wanted to be in a position where I could encourage others and get them geeked about their involvement in the club as well. This same approach continued through college and throughout my career.

Over the years, I’ve been a volunteer leader in HR, for our zoo, in my church, in our kid’s schools and sports teams, and in Boy Scouts. Each time I ventured into a new group, I became more and more motivated by the new people I met. I have treasured getting to know peers in my profession, kids and their families and other great people from all walks of life.

You see, I don’t view leadership in these activities as being “in charge” of anything or anyone. I see them as being in a position to be the spark someone needs to unlock their talent. It’s been key to see each person who is engaged in groups be valued, acknowledged and seen as talented regardless of their role or level or participation. People want to do their best and have a genuine opportunity to participate. They became a part of a group to be included and not overlooked. It’s astonishing to see what happens when you see someone’s spark turn into a flame and hopefully into a full-blown passion.

I’ve seen kids who never thought they’d succeed in sports play with intensity and drive because I believed in them as their coach. I’ve seen scouts who would never speak in front of a group grow, develop and become leaders in the Troop and in their community. I’ve seen HR peers become stronger businesspeople that moved from being transactional to strategic within their organizations. The list goes on and on because I was willing to be a spark in their lives.

I list these “accomplishments” purely as an analogy. You can also be the spark in others’ lives. Think what our organizations would look like with you as a firestarter that viewed your employees as the immense talents they already are. With your attention and encouragement, you could unlock a passion that has yet to be revealed.

People want to go through life filled with passion far more than you realize. All they need is someone who believes in them. YOU have that ability to be the spark in all those in your life. You need to know this !! This coming week as you head to all that you’re doing, strike the match of passion that is waiting to burst forth. Be the spark !!

Practice Gratitude Daily

We just celebrated Thanksgiving this past week and it was wonderful. We had a small gathering of my wife and daughter. Our son just started a new job, so he couldn’t get away to travel home. We enjoyed a traditional feast of turkey and a multitude of sides including a batch of old-fashioned ambrosia salad !!

We took time to turn off all of our devices and screens so we could just focus on each other. It was perfect . . . as a moment in time. In the midst of all of the ongoing turmoil and challenges facing society and each person in some form or another, we gave thanks. It’s intriguing that we set aside one day in 365 to give thanks. One. Day. I’m not blind to the fact that some feel they can’t even enjoy this one day because of all that may be facing them.

It takes an effort to express gratitude. It seems to come naturally for some, but for most of us, there needs to be a defined focus to break through the muck and darkness that we continue to swim through. This is a shame because there is so much to be grateful for personally. We have a chance to be the light that breaks through the shadows people walk in, but it will cost you something. It’s the one thing that we feel is already scarce and fleeting each day. Our time.

It’s been proven that something becomes a habit if you practice it daily for at least 21 days. As small of a hurdle as this is, we perceive it to be an insurmountable mountain. There is no mountain. The obstacle is only the small voice in our head that says that we should be shackled to other things that “matter.” What if the action that “mattered” to you was expressing gratitude to others around you?

How would someone else’s day go if you said “Hello” and then actually stayed put to see how they’re doing? What would their day be like if you celebrated with them about an accomplishment in their family’s life? Would you see different outcomes in your interactions if you complimented and encouraged someone for their work and effort?

I think you know the answer to these questions because when someone else did this for you, it made your day brighter. How much “time” do questions and conversations like this take? We don’t even know because we either think doing this is daunting or a waste of our precious time. We couldn’t be more wrong.

Trust me on this. The time you spend investing in the lives of others is the most productive use of your time possible. It’s time to turn the tide of how people interact in our homes, our neighborhoods, and our workplaces. Instead of falling into the muck of negativity, pause, breathe and express gratitude about something, anything. Fight the urge to follow the surge of uncertainty and be an anchor of positivity as an alternative. It may give those you encounter the brief respite they needed and you didn’t even know it.

Daily gratitude isn’t about you. It’s about others. This week start a new habit that will be fulfilling in ways you can’t even yet fathom. Switch from setting aside one day per year to be thankful for everything, to practicing daily gratitude so that every day is filled with at least one grateful occurrence. See what happens . . .

Glad to Help

This past weekend our daughter made her first big adult purchase – a new car !! My wife and I drove up to be with her for support and advice if she needed it. We wanted to be there just in case things got challenging, but we expected her to be the decision-maker throughout the entire process. To say she was anxious and excited would be an understatement. It took about 30 minutes to drive from her apartment to the car dealership. That only made her anticipation grow even more. She felt she had prepared for every potential question and possibility.

As we arrived at the dealership, she boldly walked in and asked for Chris – who had been her contact for the past few months. He wasn’t there. She stammered and began to have a twinge of doubt about what she had envisioned as a perfect day. “But, I have an appointment at 11:00am.” The person who greeted us was so gracious and told us not to worry. She would make sure to get us someone to help with the car purchase. I could see her becoming nervous, but that soon changed. Enter Dave.

This young man came over directly to Melanie and said, “I understand you’re here to get a new car. I’m sorry Chris couldn’t be here. I’ll be glad to help you through this. It’s going to be a great day.” There was no pressure and he didn’t come across as being put off for having to fill in for Chris. In fact, he apologized for the mix-up and assured us over and over that everything was going to be fine. He was right. We were at the dealership for three hours !! However, it didn’t feel like it. The folks working were attentive, courteous, diligent and mindful. They kept us informed each step of the way from turning in her old car, to financing, to let us test drive the car before she made a final decision to whether we needed anything to drink. The entire process was excellent.

As we were going through everything, I sat back and watched as other potential customers came through the dealership. Each person was treated the same way and they either walked away being informed since they were “just looking” or they ordered a vehicle to get their process going. In fact, Dave took potential customers while also attending to our daughter.

During one of the many conversations throughout our time there, Dave explained they were short-staffed (like most employers these days). He stated over and over how much he appreciated our patience. We were all so impressed with the service that was given that it was easy to be patient. In the back of my mind though, I felt he thanked us because not every customer had been patient on other days. You could sense his relief.

That made me reflect on what is happening in the service industry today. You see, this hits home because I work for a restaurant chain that relies on the amazing frontline people in our locations, our manufacturing plant, and our call center. I hear countless stories of guests who lose their patience at the drop of a hat. It takes very little for some to yell, confront or walk away from an interaction when they came to enjoy a meal. If you read about how people who give service are experiencing work these days, this is becoming the norm and not the exception.

The difference today is that employees are willing to leave themselves instead of being treated poorly. That shouldn’t be surprising. No one wants to be treated poorly when they’re trying to genuinely meet a customer’s needs. Grace is being shown less and less and it’s affecting our workplaces.

We all can change this approach and we can do it immediately !! The experience we had with Dave should be an example of how to keep calm, assess the situation and see how to move forward. He stepped in and my daughter was grateful that he did. She didn’t bemoan the fact that her original contact had something come up. Life happens and there is SOOOOOOOO much more in life than having something take a different direction unexpectedly.

We need to remember that we leave an impression on every person we encounter every time we encounter them. Every. Time. That impact can be memorable in a positive way just as much as it can be in a negative way. Those who work in frontline roles don’t get to choose how you’re going to treat them. They experience things based on the choices you make.

This week start to keep in mind those who serve. They strive to do great work to take care of you. Thank them. Treat them well and let them know you value what they do. This should be true in your own organization and also with anyone you meet in other situations.

At the end of our time at the dealership, Melanie got her car and we ended up with an incredible experience. I plan to tell everyone about him and the good folks at Bill Estes Toyota. We’re thankful they were glad to help us and set an example of how workplaces and interactions can be all the time !!

A Little Respect

It seems that almost every conversation these days is tenuous. People are hesitant to talk to each other about the most mundane subjects because they’re concerned about the potential reaction they’ll receive. This has led to people becoming more and more separated. The separation in turn leads to very slanted opinions and people dig their heels in on whatever is being bantered about.

We need to be able to have opinions and we need to be able to share them. We learn from each other and hear many perspectives when people feel they can not only give their thoughts on topics but that they will be heard. I wish this were the case versus what is currently happening in society, on social media, and in the news in general. This constant edginess has eroded one component which could pull us together – respect.

In the workplace, we cannot let this erosion occur. We have to foster diversity of thought and varying viewpoints so that we experience collaboration and interconnectedness. This isn’t some Utopian encouragement. It needs to be the foundation and expectation of your employees. Respect each other and what each person brings to the table. People want to add value through their contributions in their roles. This is true at every level of the organization.

What are you seeing at your company? Do people respect one another? Are you aware of whether they are or aren’t?

We spend so much time trying to dictate behavior through programmatic efforts hoping that if people follow certain steps of a process, then collaboration will magically occur just “because.” We limit intentional interaction and relationship building because we believe the myth that productivity will be adversely reduced if people are spending too much time talking with each other.

HR has the opportunity to step in and create an environment and a culture that brings people together. By giving respect to each employee and acknowledging that their efforts make an impact and meaningful difference to the success of the company, you’ll find that you create engagement. It’s not something to measure. It’s something to practice. We can do this by giving people two things – our time and attention.

Honestly, that’s what every person wants more than anything each day. And yet, it’s what we struggle with more than any other aspect of our job. Isn’t it ironic that human interaction is where we spend the least amount of our time? We fall into the trap that time is being wasted when that just isn’t the truth.

This weekend I was fortunate to attend the retirement celebration of my wife’s boss who has worked in her role for 45 years. The night was wonderful because people came in from all over the country who had worked with her through the years to tell her congratulations and “Thank You.” When it came time to give speeches, each person talked about the unending impact she made by giving each person her time, attention and listening ear. They didn’t talk about her sage advice or visionary direction. She gave them respect and they now had a chance to show her how impactful that was.

She has always been a people person and when she took the podium the room fell silent. Through teary eyes, she thanked everyone and said, “You need to know that every one of you I worked with over this time mattered. Every. One.” She was overwhelmed and humbled by the turnout and the adulation.

You see she lived out the key to respect – In order to get respect, you need to give it first.

This coming week take a few moments to gauge where your time, focus and efforts are being spent. If it’s not investing your time in others, you’re just missing a chance to lay the groundwork of a culture that will be far more inviting, engaging and meaningful than what you’re experiencing now. Turn the tide of division and step into the gap to give respect to those around you. It works.

Trick or Treat ??

I took the past couple of weeks off from blogging. It wasn’t because I needed a break. I just didn’t have something to write about. Work had been moving along with a few bumps and things at home were good as well. Then, I hit a tough week. I mean every. single. day.

Nothing seemed to be falling into place. People around me were stressed for one reason or another. There was a heightened sense of urgency on some items that came up unexpectedly while other items that needed attention seemed to fade into the mist. For every good thing that happened (and they did), the countermove that followed seemed to create a deeper and deeper rut. It was unsettling because there was no reason for what was happening. You couldn’t step back and point to certain triggers or causes because each situation felt like it appeared out of nowhere. I was in a place I rarely find myself which was disconcerting.

I understand that ups and downs or ebbs and flows are natural. I’m grateful for those because they ensure variety occurs which everyone enjoys. We don’t want things to be mundane. If last week had followed this pattern, I would have felt that work was happening “normally.” These seismic waves of emotions that came up though were much more drastic than the regular high tides and low tides of work.

The question that you have to ask yourself when you experience these massive sways is – How should I respond?

This year Halloween falls on a Sunday and the last time that happened was in the year 2010 !! I enjoy the holiday and I especially love the kids who visit our house for candy. I’m a traditionalist and expect the kids to exclaim – “Trick or Treat !!” It’s always a treat for everyone who stops by and makes handing out candy so enjoyable.

Back to my rough week. Would I respond as if what I’m facing is a trick or treat? The natural urge is to quickly lash out emotionally because we think that a quick release will work. We think this reaction will at least get the ball of angst out hoping it will quickly dissipate and things can fall back into balance. It never works. Ever. Pulling a “trick” on others will give you a short high and a feeling of fulfillment as your vengeful action takes place. The fallout though will be far worse than the situation you’re facing.

You could also retreat and swallow the mix of emotions swirling around you. This response is as damaging as the vocal burst. People may think you’re doing well on the outside, but inside you’re dying. Putting up a facade may feel effective, but the situation you’re facing is still moving in full force. Stepping aside is more of a personal “trick” on yourself.

I’ve found the best course of action is two do two things – (1) Breathe and collect yourself and then (2) Intentionally move into all that is swirling around and take it on. I can’t guarantee the outcome will be positive, but it’s far more of a “treat” than other options. This is true for you personally AND it gives you an approach to teach others when they find themselves in the midst of their own rough weeks – which will happen.

You need to know that I followed my own advice. Even though I felt like I was being buried by an avalanche, I kept moving forward to not let things swallow me. I fought the strong urges to bellow at a few folks when I could sense it coming on. I also made myself shake off the small voice in my head that was encouraging me to just sit back because everything would work out.

I’m looking forward to this coming week. I don’t anticipate another rough week ahead, but it could happen. You never know. The reassurance that I have an approach I can rely on puts me at ease. I hope you follow this approach as well.

Fully Immersed !!

This past weekend my wife, daughter and I went to the Newfields Art Museum to take in the incredible digital experience featuring the artwork of Vincent Van Gogh. It took place in the LUME Indianapolis and it’s hard to adequately describe. You follow the crowd of people who are about to experience this with you. Slowly, you inch up three floors of escalators which only makes the anticipation of what is ahead grow. Your tickets are scanned on your phone and then you enter a vast expanse that covers almost an entire floor of the museum.Classical music starts to play and wrap around you as the first images come to life. The story of Van Gogh is displayed in words on various screens that tower over you. What is different with this art installation from any other I have experienced is that every surface is covered in color, imagery, and movement. Your eyes can’t keep up with all that is around you. The paintings of Van Gogh wrap around you and you are “inside” them. You see people take pictures of themselves fully covered in a mixture of blues, yellows, greens, whites, and reds. When his famous sunflowers come up people look like a field of wallpaper that blots out their outfits.

My family Van Gogh’d !!

The response of people as they took in all that was happening ranged from elation to disbelief to boredom. I hate to say that, but it’s like any experience. You can’t get everyone to enjoy what they’re going through. Some seemed like they were there for their partner/spouse and that support was appreciated even if they didn’t get lost in the art. My wife, daughter and I were lost completely. We didn’t even know the other person was in the room. I turned around to point something out and saw that they were taking in something that caught their attention. I didn’t want to shape or influence their experience. I knew we would share later what captured our attention.

One of the biographical pieces that came up on the screen was that Van Gogh was incredibly prolific and he created 2,000 drawings and pictures the last 10 years of his life. Keep in mind that he unfortunately only lived to be 37 years old. He also had mental health struggles in the midst of his immense creative output. It’s quite remarkable. It’s as if he couldn’t keep up with all that was flowing from him. He was as fully immersed in his art as much as we were surrounded by it at the exhibit.

His art is still so moving 130 years after his death. That is fascinating to comprehend. We wonder if the work we’re doing in HR sometimes has an impact at all, don’t we?

I think we can take a lesson from this exhibit and from the artist. If we would quit viewing ourselves as “practitioners,” we could take on the mantle of fully immersing ourselves in our profession, our roles and our organizations. Trust me when I tell you that when you see HR all around you, then you no longer see what you do as a job. I have tried to do this for years. It may seem a bit odd, but I think that every aspect of my life can be applied to the “art” I get to create as an HR professional.

This week, take a look at how you view what you do and how you see yourself. Are you only practicing HR? If so, pick up your brushes, find a canvas and immerse yourself. Don’t settle as an observer. Become the artist you were destined to be. You’ll be pleased at what starts to come to life !!