" He Who is Afraid of Asking is Afraid of Learning... " ~ (Danish Proverb)

Re-defining the Trajectory of Success

In a recent article by Arianna Huffington, reflecting on Hillary Clinton’s career trajectory and professional profile, the focus quickly shifts from Clinton to every wo(man).

Succinctly put, Huffington examines the current standards on which professional success is based: lack of sleep, overwork, and burnout – symptoms anyone who is highly accomplished, driven, dedicated (i.e., Hillary) can attest to and slogs through in the name of hard work, responsibility and contribution. However, these same people (author included) can also attest to impaired decision-making, lack of creativity and overall motivation at times. So, as professionals in a rapid-fire, information-rich, decision-heavy society, where do we go from here…

I think Hillary sums it up best, in her goals for her sabbatical. And, I quote:

“I hope I get to sleep in,” … “I don’t have any real plans to make any decisions, “…”I am really looking forward to stepping off the fast track that I’ve been on,”…”I don’t quite know how I’m going to adjust to not having a schedule and a lot of work that is in front of me that is expecting me to respond to minute by minute,”…”I just want to sleep and exercise and travel for fun. And relax…. I would like to see whether I can get untired.”

So, unless you are planning a sabbatical, the above is not entirely realistic in totality. However, just by the mere acknowledgement of these fundamental human needs for sleep, mental rest, and relaxation, Hillary is speaking for us all.

In my own search for the above, I have found the following to be true:

  • Technology is our greatest ally in the battle against burnout. We live in an age with the ability to work from home and still connect via technology, VPN access to remote networks, cell phones with ever-decreasing rate plans and, of course, instantaneous email. The flexibility, ability to work according to your own circadian rhythms and maximize productivity, achieve work-life balance are ALL solved with flexible working arrangements. But, we are still fighting against the demons of late-adopters and those exceptions who simply are not disciplined enough to work remotely. Much like John Lennon imagined ” all the people living life in peace,” I imagine a world in which remote-workers are applauded and can seamlessly interact with those who insist on being office-bound, and where productivity soars because flexibility and work-life balance become achievable once more.
  • No job, paycheck, benefits package nor perk is worth lowering the standards of integrity, respect and growth you have set for yourself. If you find yourself not only in the midst of lack of sleep, overwork, and burnout – but even worse, unfulfilled, disrespected , or declining in skills – you owe it to yourself to take the time to find another path to success.
  • Define success for yourself. I am learning [the hard] way, that saying yes to everything – even the most worthwhile endeavors – just doesn’t work. Unless it is 100% happiness-guaranteed, I am probably going to say a gentle “No” for now.
  • Try keeping things in perspective and prioritizing your needs: vacations (or staycations), more focus on being present in daily life, prayer, living as drama-free as you can, family/friends (the drama-free kind) and enjoying a nap whenever you can!

Huffington says it best,

And maybe I’m dreaming, but the world needs Hillary not only to get herself “untired,” but in the next chapter of her life to become a role model for the idea that one can both be untired and successful.

Wishing You Success,
N
atalya

Three Words for 2012 (via www.justinrlevy.com)

A simply awesome concept – MUST READ for 2012!!!

Although I recently “unresolved” to do many a thing heading into 2012 – I wanted to share a most inspiring and intelligent blog post citing “three words” to lead into the year – from a a fellow blogger and someone whose accomplishments and work ethic I admire greatly.

Thank you, Justin Levy for this wonderful blog to start out the new year and for the cross reference to my article on work-life balance as well. Honored to be in such company.

Via Justin Levy

It’s that time of the year again where we look at the new year full of vigor and motivation, ready to take on everything that the upcoming year has to offer. However, it’s so easy to get bogged down and sidetracked from accomplishing our goals that by the time we look up again, the year has already escaped us.

This is why for the past few years I’ve joined Chris Brogan and several other friends in choosing three words that will serve as my guiding pillars for the upcoming year. These three words will help me to accomplish the goals that I have set out for myself, both professionally and personally. Read More….

Wishing You Success,
N
atalya

5 Things Workshifters Won’t Say, But Should

The post which follows is an approved re-print of my recent article on Workshifting.com, and is soon to be excerpted in a new book entitled Out of Office (by Gihan Perera, August 2011 ).*

For anyone not familiar with the term, “workshifting” refers to “anyone who works out of coffee shops, hotels, airports and whose home every bit as much as the office” (Definition courtesy of www.Workshifting.com, Powered by Citrix).

Given that I still struggle with these tenets daily – when the need to please and assist mask the [greater] need to produce and produce well – these statements are helpful reminders that quality, balance, and living your truth are crucial to productivity and success.

5 Things Workshifters Won’t Say, But Should
By Natalya Sabga on June 22, 2011 12:08 PM |

Making the proverbial shift into workshifting is tough – for employers and workshifters, alike. Though gaining greater credibility, the workshifting lifestyle is still nebulous at best and completely scary at worst to most organizations considering permitting an employee to workshift or hiring a workshifter outright.

This perceived dilemma can make some workshifters second guess their daily decisions, promises and commitments in order to say what we believe the hiring parties want to hear.

So, I have come up with the 5 things most workshifters won’t say, but should:

  1. “My greatest quality work is produced when I have the most flexibility in time, location and method.”
  2. “I would love to help you/your organization with this project/issue, but it’s not within my core competency and it would be better for you to ask someone else with that strength.”
  3. “I would need to assess the current status of your organization and measure the gap between where it is currently at versus what you want this project/assignment to achieve, before I commit or spec out my statement of work.”
  4. “As a rule, I need a full 24 (48) hours’ notice in order to attend a meeting on-site, except in the case of an emergency or project showstopper.”
  5. “I lobbied for a workshifting lifestyle so I could perform at my best and serve you at the highest level of my capability; therefore, being asked to commit to more than my realistic capacity or having to forgo my flexibility defeats both of our ultimate and intended goals for success.”

Some of these statements may appear harsh or “un-A-player-like” at first, but rest assured – they are often the mantras which need to be heard first and most. Your opportunity to workshift has been hard won and much deserved; so wouldn’t you prefer to set yourself up for success with expectations based on realistic and supportive parameters or speak only empty promises and have your work and workshifting lifestyle suffer?

Wishing You Success in any workstyle you adopt,
N
atalya

* Find Gihan Perera on Facebook!

Photo Credit: forangels.org

The Flexible Ruler Style of Work

Flexible ruler might seem like an oxymoron to some, and until the recent past it would have been. Today, flexible rulers really do exist.

And, more and more – flexible rules also exist in the workplace. Telecommuting and flexibility programs are terms used to describe arrangements whereby valued employees are permitted to work remotely, to come into the office for meetings only, to work during alternate hours, or a combination of all.

However, these types of programs are not entirely ubiquitous despite the extensive technological advances which easily support such arrangements. Why is that?

There are two fundamental reasons:

  1. The office environment cannot support external employees - despite, or perhaps as a result of, technological advances, business move at the speed of light. One direct-to-voicemail missed call or a slow email server can spell inefficiency when the main office has already resolved and moved on from an issue in which the remote worker is still enmeshed. Adding to that less than perfect communication skills, and the operation will quickly become out of sync. A well-choreographed dance occurs among remote and main office-based workers, which relies on trust and the ability of one party to lead. Therefore, if you are the remote employee or a manager of one, basic rules of telecommuting should be examined prior entering into such an arrangement.
  2. Employees cannot be trusted to work [independently] – I have never been the clock-watching type of employee nor manager. Where there is work to be done, it will be done – at 4am, 11pm or anytime in between that I can spare in order to meet deadlines. Therefore, it would make sense that where the work gets done should not matter either, correct? Unfortunately, whether in a traditional office environment or a remote office, many managers simply cannot trust that work is being accomplished unless the employees are under their nose to oversee. In my mind, and simply put – then you may have hired the wrong employee. :) ( Of course, there are times when F2F brainstorming, meetings or physical proximity to other employees/office infrastructure is essential.) However, in a less black and white world, we would all be better served if we simply observed the rules of results-based management.

But how do you know they’re working if you can’t see them? That question, and the fact that it’s asked so often, points to a real problem with management today. Whether your employees are down the hall or thousands of miles away, if you’re not measuring by results, you really don’t know who’s working and who isn’t. ~ Kate Lister

No longer are flexible work hours an exception; in fact, many of the most successful companies (including those in the Fortune 500) have embraced flexible work arrangements as an essential business strategy because it prodcuces greater productivity and innovation within its employee base.

When you ignore the where, when, and how work is done, and focus on results, your employees are more productive,more creative, and more successful. ~ Kate Lister & Tom Harnish

Results-based management should not be perceived as a new, innovative, complex concept. In its simplicity lies its efficacy – focus on what needs to be done and hire the people who can get it done. When those two factors are present, wearing pajamas versus pin-stripes really should not matter.

Stay tuned for my next post on freeing your mind by shifting your workspace.

Wishing You Success,
N
atalya

IMAGE Courtesy of…….RapidOnline

Working Together…Apart


tel⋅e⋅com⋅mut⋅ing /tel-i-kuh-myoo-ting/

–noun
working at home by using a computer terminal electronically linked to one’s place of employment.

For anyone who has not noticed recently, telecommuting is a prevalent buzz word. What full-time employee would not love the luxury of working from home (WFH) while the laundry churns in the background, waves of downy-fresh sheets wafting through the air…

Work-life balance may just be the #1 challenge most career professionals face today and telecommuting seems to be the panacea. But is it? Who is really woven from work-from-home threads and what are the pitfalls…?

Recently, by design and not default, I chose the WFH road and have not had any desire to make a U-turn! However, I have hit some speedbumps along the way and learned when to hit the accelerator as well as when to go on cruise control:

#1. Barriers to Efficiency: when working from home, what you gain in peace and solace you lose in real-time interaction. By the time your cable modem downloads an email, your coworkers on the T1 line may have already had a meeting and decided how to respond. Emails lost in flight are frustrating at best and inefficient at worst. When in doubt, pick up the phone and confirm that you are on the same page -or- if the issue at hand is not urgent, let some time pass and monitor your email. If no other posts are received, you’re probably safe to respond.

#2. Perception is NOT Always Reality: it is commonplace for the telecommuter to experience WFH disorder, i.e., the perception that your work is not as worthwhile nor your contribution as appreciated. Just remember that a) your employer trusted you enough to grant you the luxury of WFH and b) the skills you use to write a proposal in your pajamas are as strong as those which you would use sitting at a desk at the office. In fact, my guess is that the clarity of mind you attain from being at home, away from constant interruptions, will produce a far better proposal. But, you must know your own contribution and be secure in its worth- or the WFH game will begin to play games with your head. CAVEAT: if you are of the professionally insecure set, perhaps telecommuting is not for you. Which leads me to..

#3. To Thine Own Personality Type be True: not everyone is a prime WFH contender. Structure, discipline, experience and confidence are key. Not to mention a handy and talented IT guy should your printer or laptop go on the fritz when you really need to proof that proposal… :)

Working from home should be a win-win whereby employers have an opportunity to meet the needs of a valued employee and employees have the ability to find that elusive work-life balance.

So ask yourself this: would you trade in your pumps for pajamas, button down shirts for boxers? IF the answer is YES, be prepared to tackle tasks on your own, make executive decisions and sometimes, even get dressed and make an appearance at the office when duty calls.

Wishing You Success,
Natalya