I had a discussion with my boss yesterday regarding the Manager’s Guide I’m writing at work. It has been a process writing this thing. It has evolved several times into something different, and it’s one of those projects that seems to get bigger the longer I work on it. It’s really important to him, so I keep writing and following the evolution, wherever it seems to take me. I always tell him, “I’m going to make YOU look good.” He laughs because he thinks I’m nuts. And, I am. But, I’m still going to try to make him look good. That’s my job.
I was asking him to brainstorm the content of the section on what it takes to be a good manager. He is reading a book right now, and we pulled out three top things we think a manager needs to focus on to be successful. One of those is the ability to set priorities, and once they are set, manage your time based on those. It’s just too easy to get distracted by a million things that NEED to be done. He pulled up a picture on his computer of two roads leading off into the forest.Boss: Which road would you take? Me: I don’t know. Boss: Is there a right or wrong? Me: No. Just different experiences. Boss: How do you make the road take you where you want to go when you have no idea what is ahead of you?
We talked about values and how values are our guiding principles that take us where we want to go in life. When I first moved to Memphis there was a lot of chaos in my life. I was struggling badly, and I sought out counseling for some assistance in getting unstuck. I was struggling with the decision of whether or not I needed to stay married, and, if I did, what I needed to do first to make my life livable. There were so many problems. She told me that when she makes decisions, she runs them through her core values to make sure the decision is a good fit for her. My homework that week was to determine my core values.
We all have values. We may not be able to list them if someone asks. I found this to be an extremely valuable exercise and guiding tool. At one time, I thought values were morals. They are not. I can value something that is totally immoral. I probably wouldn’t, but I could. One of my values is Physical Health. I know this because I act on it all the time. In my counselor’s explanation, she said some people may say they value eating nutritious food, but they don’t do it. In that case, they don’t really value it. It may be a goal, but it’s not a value. My values are those things that consistently guide me even though I don’t know it. Another value of mine is Close Relationships. I spend a lot of time and energy getting to know people and making close friends.
The reason that it is important to know my values is that it helps me on those unmarked roads. I may not know where either of them lead. But, if I pack my bags with my values and follow who I am, I can’t help but get to where I need to go. The destination isn’t important. For us mortals, the destination is always death. It’s the journey that’s important. That determines the way we live. I found a list of core values on the internet. There are a number of different resources available. I narrowed them down to the top 5 that I almost always do. Once I had them in writing, it made my decision-making much easier.
My boss showed me a video of this young woman who got injured in a race and fell just before the finish line. She crawled across the finish. If anyone had helped her, she would have been disqualified. Her coach has Lou Gehrig’s disease and this was his last season. Her team had decided they wanted to give him a season to remember, and they were in the running for the State Championship. To honor him and her team, she VALUED finishing. My boss said, “How often do we leave it ALL on the field? How many times do we finish knowing we could have done more?” I thought about my half marathons and how often I’ve wondered if I could have run it faster because I felt so good after the race. I’ve often wondered how fast I could run a half marathon if I really left it all on the field. He said that the only way to know is to do it once. “The only way to address fear is to take action,” he said. “Then you’ll never fear it again.”
I have to talk to my coach about my race strategy in my next race. I’d like to leave it all on the field.….just once…in my sport. I left it all on the field when I tried to save my marriage. Even though it failed, I knew that I had given it my all, and I had no regrets. But, he’s right. If I don’t truly …in my heart ….value something, I’ll never give what it takes to leave it all on the field. That’s okay. Not everything can be given 100%. But, when I give my all, and it’s in line with my values, I’m in my sweet spot. It doesn’t matter where I end up. The cross country girl didn’t win the race, but she got national acclaim, her team won the State Championship, and her coach’s last season was a season to remember. I’ll leave you with the video. I hope it inspires you to figure out where you need to leave it all on the field. Just once…..