Friday, June 19, 2009

Lofty Goals

So I haven’t written in a while, which trust me, is a great sign. I’ve been taking summer classes and trying out new talents, learning new topics and budding new relationships, and my life has been pretty full. It’s great. I’m in bed by midnight if I can fight to stay awake that long and exhausted by the time my head hits the pillow that I barely make my bed anymore. The good news is, that my bed in my summer residence is lofted, so I don’t have to see the clutter, and it makes life a bit simpler.

Right now I’m taking a couple of classes, working 20 hours a week and heading up a marketing project for a company who is struggling to promote their business. Of the two classes I’m taking; survival swimming and a required physical science course taught by the notorious physics professor who now knows my name because of all of the visits to his office, I have surprised myself in swimming the most. I realize after today’s mind numbing exam that I’m going to have to be more proactive in getting supplemental visualizations of the conceptual physics, but all in all, I am a 27 year old black woman who is wiping the floor with the other people who are learning how to swim. Today I swam in the deep end for the first time since I was pulled out of the pool by a life guard at the age when my mother’s cousin pushed me in. I had a little anxiety attack, but someone else had a bigger one, so it gave me a little bit of strength to talk her down and kick my way across in one breath. I think it’s all of those races with the 6 foot Tanzanian girl that got me through it, but at this point it’s only a matter of time. I’m kind of excited to be a swimmer, but really I’m excited to be able to go safely on trips that don’t involve chlorine infested water.

The other class, I’m not going to lie has been a bit of a challenge, but I’m not going to lie has created some great benefits. [and not just because I met a guy ;P]. Last night I kind of amped up my nerd status by going to the local coffee shop, ordering the biggest brownie they had and a vanilla malt and I just compiled a video playlist on youtube which illustrated all of the concepts from our texts and how to derive the corresponding equations. Some of those vids are pretty funny. It was funny getting to the problem this morning on total momentum and remembering that weird and wacky white guy jumping around with toy cars and rolling balls to illustrate how the concept worked. It makes me want to publish some vids here. I think I’m going to introduce the concept to the learning commons committee next year. I think youtube webinars could make us an educational leader on the web, especially since our school just got its own youtube channel.

The there’s our consulting project which actually has presented a pretty interesting challenge. I got recruited to [well honestly it was more like involuntarily appointed] to facilitate a consulting project for a company in Lexington and it has been a challenge. I don’t know what I’m doing, I let them know, but evidently neither do they, so that instantly puts me in a position of responsibility over other people, which of course leaves me shaking in my boots. My strategy to get past the micromanaging and being blamed for stuff not getting done [that I would have never known to anticipate from my younger peers] was to assess where the communication gaps were, accept the blame for the communication breakdown from the people in charge and then initiate the coup. When I tell you, there are some very confused former officers who thought they were going to be able to do what they want, it makes me want to laugh. I pretty much scrapped the team I had, leaving them to be responsible for the parts they decided to take ownership for and left them standing by the side of the road.

The only reason that it came to that, is they literally left me standing around on hold for them last week after flaking on me for a very crucial commitment and then tried to hold me in a long ass meeting about why it was my fault for not confirming with them that they were going to uphold their end of their commitments, and I listened, I got the conversation on track to figure out what the next steps were, and then I bailed. I told them I had a study group, to avoid being demoralized by another 4 hour meeting. Then I went home and contacted a few friends, project coordinators I knew. I got a stage manager, an alum who was in the organization, but still needed work, his buddy who will be graduating, an overeager writer/advertiser who could use something to keep her busy, and the campus life director. Our cash cow, had to travel out of town for the summer, but he agreed to join up with us when we come back and I can begin grooming him to replace me.

Live a Stress-free Life: 11 Tips

It is possible to lead a stress free life, even in this day and age. But to do so, we need to look past the surface reasons of stress and find out the root causes. We need to adopt a new attitude towards life. Here are some tips to help you live a stress free and fulfilling life. Read more here.

I went online and looked up tons of articles, from ehow and on how to do marketing plans, business models, rebuild client trust, risk management strategies, learning & development models, how to train employees, went over the business plan and rocked the hell out of our first official meeting. I even brought snacks as an incentive [fresh blueberries, cost me $2.50] to keep those who were serious about attending feeling as if the experience were rewarding. That was my goal, and we got the meeting done in less than an hour, when something miraculous happened. I began to pack my things to leave and the group members began going over the publication materials themselves, something that they self-initiated, and assessing what needed to be added, what needed to be done to make it look more professional, and so on. I honestly felt like a jerk for trying to leave, and when I mentioned how heartened I was to see how eager they were to get started, they told me that they were motivated and gave me really good reasons for how this was rewarding that extended for reasons beyond building their portfolio. I can’t tell you how excited I am to learn from these people, because they all have a sense of ownership in the process now and understand that we’re all sharing the responsibility.

Some of them will even be facilitating and coaching new team members, as I shifted the focus to learning how to learn as well as how to teach to maximize how we spend our time together. I want to keep detailed records of this model to gauge the progress of our groups. I’m going to be sending them all a link to the human metrics questionnaire and giving them a small assessment to fill out by the next meeting. Then hopefully we can do individualized peer assessments to help each team member measure how the group perceives their efforts toward reaching the goals that they set. I’m really excited to see how it goes. This absolves me from the responsibility of having to bear the responsibility of judging people and helps them to be more mindful of things that they and their peers do that is effective and helps them coach each other so that they will be more agreeable role models with others in their future teams and projects. If all goes well it’s going to transform my role as vp of membership from being a recruiter toward being more effective in the role of hr [which I’ll probably refer to as leadership resources (LR)]. My goal is to get a little handbook published by the end of the year for my successor, cause the person before me didn’t leave me much to go on. I got elected on the premise that of my visible popularity and that I run organizations effectively, get results, and get work done with minimal time restraints. So hopefully I can find more things to bring to the table, that will make me a more effective and charismatic leader. I don’t really care to be in charge of other people, it’s my INTP leanings that make me that way. But perhaps by taking more of an active interest in bringing my strengths out in other people by appealing to their personality traits and individual learning styles I can have a leadership model that enables me to be a more effective mentor despite the fact that I can be a little bit hot & cold some times.

feral kitty taken by Katherine

As for the rest of my work, PR is great. Some of the work I’ve done on my extra-curricular project allowed me to enhance my research and analysis of a project I’m working on with my labor department, so I’m excited about that. I got filmed for a documentary yesterday, as soon as I hear about that, I will update the content there. My facebook time has been brought to a minimum, and between photography, swimming, and building a incredible relationship with my jewelry making friend, my life is full and pleasant. Even my roommate situation is working out. Yesterday I joked that at this rate in about a week we’d be lying in bed asking the other person if they were “sleep”. I may actually miss her when I go back to my single at the beginning of the fall. Although I will definitely be lofting my bed from now on, you wouldn’t believe how much space it saves once you get over the fear of heights.

I’ve actually conquered quite a few fears, cut back on gossip and can’t remember the last time I fed my negativity. I get thoughts that come up periodically, but I’ve decided that instead while I have internet access, I can reduce the time I spend indulging in it by looking up strategies to correct these challenges and give me some freaking inner peace for a change. Actively working to fix these things seems to be much more effective for me through practice then it does to ruminate about them. Which means that I’m going to have to find more wonderful and exciting things to ruminate about… [like am I smothering this new guy, or am I appearing too unavailable when I take a few days off to be with my friends]. How difficult would it be to coordinate a group of people to trap and neuter the city’s ferrel cats now that the budget is approved, and how soon can we get new faucet aerators up in the dormitory as well as a stat sheet about how much water you save when you turn the spigot off when you lather your hands. What am I going to write about now that I’ve gotten rid of the jerks who caused me so much pain, and how can I communicate joy in my pieces without making people want to gag, or stalk the people who bring them joy? And why the hell haven’t I been receiving my Fast company magazines. I subscribed like a year ago and I’ve only received like 1 issue and 2 issues of INC. I love the publications but their service standards are terrible… or so I think.

Any who. I’ve been enjoying the wonders of classical conditioning, and feel like taking the time to learn about it, creativity, and practice it has definitely benefitted how I direct my choices and outcomes in life.

I feel that sense of gratitude all the time now, from within, [it feels like you do sometimes when you think that you’re in love, but really you’re just pleased that things are finally going well for you and you just want to ride it over the next hurdle because it feels so flippin good]. Yeah, I must admit by choosing to focus on the opportunities and people who bring me joy, I seem to be attracting more of it, and it is welcome here any time.

sunflower shot by phiG

Ironically, I posted an honesty box question that reads:

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." ~Thich Nhat Hanh... I'd love to know what makes you joyful.

I’ve got almost 600 friends and only two responses. But those two made such a difference in my day.


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