Month: September 2016

Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Try Putting Down the Phone and Live in the Moment

A few years ago I came up with my first draft of a presentation that I call, “Etiquette for the Modern Engineer.” It is a professional development presentation that focuses on ways to make a good impression for technical professionals that may be a little socially inept.  It has gone through some changes over time, but recently I have felt that a huge focus of the presentation needs to be on cell phone usage.  While I too feel the pull of my electronic clutch to learn what everybody who is possibly connected to me thinks of the latest cute cat video, it is distracting us from being present with the people we are physically around.  While I was working as a lifeguard at Blizzard Beach, I saw many people figure out how they can electronically capture the moments of floating down the lazy river but not just living in the moment with their families.  Standing in the crowd at Magic Kingdom, when the fireworks shoot up in the air and explode, all these screens are pushed up to the sky to fuzzily record the Wishes experience of the night.  In the workplace, sitting in a meeting I have seen executives pull out their phones and focus their attention on whatever is going on with the little screen, losing touch with the message of the group unintentionally (perhaps) making them feel like that meeting is not important.  As a hiring manager, I have seen incoming team members fidget with their phone rather than make small talk and potentially build a relationship with their potential co-workers at networking events.  Building relationships with the people around you is very important when it comes to building your career.  Make an attempt to keep your phone away and live in the moment.  Facebook can wait.  The text message can wait.

Living in the moment is also called mindfulness. It is an intentional effort to be in the present.  In the evenings I lay down with my kids before they go to bed.  My daughter usually opens with, what do you want to talk about?  It is these moments that we can bond and I experience the joy of learning her thoughts and perspective while letting her know that she is important to me.  I value her time.

There are apps that you can install on your phone to give you an idea on how much time you spend on your phone. One such app is called Moments.  Moments claims that people that install their apps realize the time they spend not focused on the people around them and will reduce their time by 20%.  I challenge you to consider your time spent and strive to live in the moment, to be Mindful.

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Relationships at Work

Relationships at Work

When I first started at Blizzard Beach, one of my fellow newcomers, a young man recently graduated from high school, asked our trainer about romantic relationships with our co-workers.  While our trainer said that it wasn’t something that would get you in trouble, it was not recommended.  If Disney Cast Members did not have the opportunity to date each other, they would be very limited on who they could date.  I personally was very lucky with online dating and have found an amazing man.  Workplace romance can easily go sour and make working regularly with that individual very unpleasant.  If you must date at work, I do not recommend dating someone you interact with regularly at work.  Many work places breed gossip and in order to grow your career, try to keep your reputation clean and reduce personality conflicts.

As a leader, relationships, even casual friendships with the individuals that work on your team can lead the other team members to believe you are showing favoritism and they may become disengaged.  While I enjoyed chatting with my team members during my previous job as a team lead in the defense industry, I made it a point not to engage with a smaller subset of the team socially.  The entire team can be invited to go out for lunches and after work socials, but to avoid generating feelings of bias do not regularly meet up a select few.  Relationships are important in business, they help lead to greater collaboration.  As a leader, I recommend you practice discipline with your relationships.

Responsible leaders practice discipline to ensure they are not showing favoritism and make an effort to value all team members.  When you want to do something well, you get your experts around you.  Your team needs to be the experts you can rely on.  Show all them that they are valued by inviting them to participate in decisions.  Get to know them and show that you value them as a person and a team member.  While you may be more comfortable with a subset of your team, by making an effort to reach out to every team member that directly reports to you, ideas and opportunities open up.