Will Power, Procrastination, and Getting It Done Early

 

Delighted to have a good friend and wonderful leader sharing her insight about leadership today as I travel – I know you’ll learn as much as I did when I read these insights.  Welcome and thanks for sharing Brandy:

I’ve been reading the research on willpower, and it fascinates me.  Psychology Professor Roy Baumeister uncovered this concept which states that humans only have x amount of self-control, and no matter what choice it is used on, it’s used up.  Now let me give you my analogy.

We all have a Hershey bar of willpower.  Some of us have the tiny two bite Halloween trick or treat size.  Some of us have the normal size, and a lucky few of us have the giant movie theater 6 serving size.  But whatever size your Hershey bar, every decision that you make in a day (even decisions that don’t appear to be related- like salad vs. greasy burger, or return your co-worker’s call or blow her off) is like breaking a block off the Hershey bar.  And once it is gone, it’s gone for the day.

What’s that mean practically for your leadership and efficacy at work?  It means that if it matters, you need to get it done in the MORNING.  Each morning you get a fresh Hershey bar, you have reserves of energy and willpower and self-control that you simply will not have later in the day.  It’s not a matter of how committed or focused you are, or how “tough” you are.  We all eat up our Hershey bar throughout the day with each decision we make.  Put bluntly, procrastination never helps, due to degraded decision making and self-control as the day wears on.  So, once you admit that, what do you change about your day up your leadership?  Here are some changes that I have made, which you might consider in the event they work for you.

  • Schedule your most important meeting for the morning.  Ideally, make it a breakfast meeting. I never used to do breakfast meetings.  I now embrace them.  The level of conversation and enthusiasm is markedly higher.  Also, not many people do them, so I’ve had greater luck with schedule availability.
  • When you can, get to work an hour earlier, and do NOT turn on your emails. Don’t answer your phone.  (Get in early enough and your phone might not even ring.) Use that hour to focus on your most important project, without interruption.  Or use it for the thing you never have time for- like updating your connections to grow your network.
  • Get your workout done before work.

Ok, I realize this one is painful, or at least it is for me.  Rolling up to the gym at 5:30 am is not fun.  But at 5;30, no one can stop me but me.  There is no call, or meeting running long, or PTA event.  At 5;30 PM- there are all of those things.  (Plus my bar of willpower was gone by then!) So I was continually missing or blowing off my workout.  Since I switched my workouts to the morning, I have only l missed one.  And back to the willpower issue, do your best to make it not a decision at all.  Set your alarm and lay out your gym clothes and water bottle the night before.  Your full bar of willpower will get you there much more reliably than it ever could at night.

  • Plan your day before you start your day.

This was life changing for me.  I used to roll up to work, open my email and start reading to see what I had to do that day.  That was honestly how I started my day.  Wow.  Not impressive.  Everyone was in control of my day, except me.  Now I start my day with my email off, and a blank sheet of paper in front of me.  I think it over, and write down what MY goals are for the day.  What do I need to do before I leave?  I start there, with plans and goals.  Then I can open my emails. 

  • Finally, when you can, have breakfast with the family. 

When I don’t have a breakfast meeting before work, I try to have breakfast with my family.  Nothing fancy- oatmeal works.  But connecting when I am fresh and happy, mellow, usually on a post morning workout happy endorphin rush, that is magic.  I am not a fresh happy mellow mom right after work, I admit.  I’m stressed about dinner, and homework, and soccer practice, and something my jerk coworker said to me, and the dishes that always seem to fill my sink.  My bar of willpower has often been consumed, and I may snap or be surly or quiet.  Not so in the morning.  So I treasure that special morning time with my family.

I hope these tips help.  At least give one or two of them a try.  I’ve been working on this system for about 5 months now, and it truly has changed my work life, my family life, and my fitness.  Not a bad trade for getting up a little earlier in the morning!

brandyBrandy is Managing Director & Counsel for GE Energy Financial Services.  She represents GE in equity investments, M&A, debt, and project financings for energy companies in the upstream, midstream and power sectors in the US, Latin America, Asia and Australia.  Brandy serves as the local Lean In leader for her GE Houston hub, and is a WEN mentor.  She was named a Houston’s Best Corporate Counsel in 2013, and has been named a Super Lawyer Texas Rising Star multiple times.  Brandy also serves on GE’s Diversity and Inclusion council. Brandy is passionate about pro bono work and has also been a foster mom to eight foster children and currently serves as legal guardian to five children in CPS care.

Fashion Fridays: Game Day Fashion

Welcome to the second installment of our guest post Fashion Fridays.  I am delighted to fling open the boutique doors to Christie Sullivan who has some fabulous looks for a fall-filled with football frenzy:

Happy Fashion Friday everyone! I’m thrilled to be guest posting for Gindi today.

September brings an excitement in the air and much of that has to do with the start of college football. I’m married to, quite possibly, the biggest Auburn fan ever, so it’s definitely an exciting time in our house! College bookstore tees are great for sitting in the stands, but for watch parties at someone’s home or out and about, I find it fun to dress up a bit.

For today’s Fashion Friday post, I’m offering up some inspiration for incorporating team colors into stylish game day outfits.

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Where to find these fashionable game day ensembles?  I’ve got the inside scoop (links embedded below):

You can’t start a Texas game day post without….A&M:

The dress is courtesy of Anthropologie while the knee high boots and the animal print accent clutch can be found via Nordstrom.

And I personally can’t write a Fashion Friday post without a shout out to my husband’s beloved Auburn:

This simple gingham dress can be found on Vineyard Vines, with the quilted vest featured at Joule USA and Kate Spade drop earrings from Nordstrom.

As a little homage for Gindi’s alma mater, here’s how to dress for Vanderbilt:

This adorable golden bloom skirt can be found at Ann Taylor loft.  The kimono (that’s right, kimono – own it!) is sold at Hackwith Design House and Kendra Scott necklace and booties are featured at, you guessed it, Nordstrom!!

Who made it to the Houston-hosted LSU game at Reliant this month?  This ensemble would have been perfect for LSU fans: 

This simple purple shift is courtesy of Neiman Marcus as is the Fendi mini leather crossbody.  The bold, you can’t miss I’m an LSU fan, trench can be found at Nordstrom with a must-have tiger inspired flat from Net-A-Porter

{*Special thanks to my LSU guru Annie over at MontgomeryFest.com for helping me curate this fabulous purple + gold look!}

Which is your favorite game day outfit?

xoxo,

Christie 

tea time - 0033Christie McMillan Sullivan is a marketing professional in the oil and gas industry living in Houston, TX. She enjoys writing, photographing, and ‘Discovering Life’s [Little] Luxuries’ for her blog KiKiMac. For Christie, [little] luxuries include weekend getaways at the best hotels, unique spa experiences, gluten free afternoon tea, and dressing up her table for guests. Connect with her on her blog at  www.KiKiMac.me, Facebook Page at Kiki Mac, or Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest: @KiKiMacBlog

Letting Go

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I like to have control of things.

I plan.  I manage.  I organize.  I recommend.

I struggle letting go.

Some leaders need to be more engaged.

But some leaders need to let go.

Delegate.  Trust.  Release.  Realize that one person can’t do everything.  It’s not that the leader trying to manage it all does it poorly (which inevitably happens when trying to control it all).  It’s that one person literally can not do it all.  Things don’t get done.  People are let down.  Expectations fall flat.

Leading may just mean letting go. 

Turning it over.

Releasing it to someone else to free you up for the next opportunity, challenge, possibility, adventure.

What are you holding on to today that’s holding you back?

Fashion Fridays: Transition Flawlessly Into Fall

Today is the first of four Fashion Friday guest posts from real world fashionable career women.  I met Shavonnah through the Women’s Energy Network and she’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met in real life.  You can’t help but love her because she has an equally beautiful soul.  Delighted to introduce you to this remarkable, fashionable, friend:

September – it’s a great month for so many reasons:  school is back in session, the holidays are far enough off to render pleasant thoughts instead of the panic-stricken ones that creep in around mid-October, and the weather starts to take a pleasant turn toward cooler temperatures.

While September brings all good things I mentioned above to mind, it can also be one of the most awkward and nerve-racking times of the year as it relates to our wardrobe. Technically, fall does not start until late September, the 22nd to be exact, and depending on what part of the country you live in, September can mean temperatures in the 60s and 70s or 90+ degree temperatures and humidity you can slice with a knife. All these factors make September one of the trickiest month for dressing ourselves well.

Below are some of my favorite summer-to-fall wardrobe transition tips:

1.  Layer with Love.

Still steamy outside, but freezing in your office? Want to wear your chic summer work dress a few more times? Learn the language of layering.

Layering is a great way to transition your wardrobe between seasons. Be sure to choose fabrics that lay well together, meaning thinner, closer fitting layers that do not bunch or wrinkle if separated multiple times a day.

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2.  Befriend a neutral. 

Neutrals are great in that they can be mixed in with any color and can even serve as nice staple instead of a standard black or brown-colors we typically wear a lot of in the colder months. To transition from summer to fall, start mixing warmer neutral colors into your late summer wardrobe to get a few more weeks of wear out of them.

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3.  Play with “pops” of color.

This September summer-fall transition period is a perfect time to wear those bold colors that were summer staples a few more times before tucking them away until 2015. Transition flawlessly into fall by mixing in brightly colored accessories or wardrobe pieces that pop.

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While September can be a challenging month due to the transitions seasons (or the lack thereof), if approached with a fresh perspective, you can turn September into your chicest month of the year!

shav4Shavonnah Roberts Schreiber is a Senior Marketing Manager for IHS, Inc.  Additionally, Shavonnah is a principal at the boutique personal development and coaching firm that she founded in 2012, SNR Creative. She is a fitness enthusiast who is certified as a personal trainer and in sports nutrition. Shavonnah has a passion for helping others live happy, healthy and whole lives. Shavonnah has led numerous organizations, including Emerging Leaders, the Women’s Energy Network, Houston Young People for the Arts, and many more which led to her being featured in the Greater Houston Partnership’s national Houston: the City with No Limits campaign.

 

Leadership Flashback

I am simultaneously excited about, and dreading, this month.  September is always fun month – the start of fall, my birthday, back to school, etc.  But this month is packed with travel.  I’m in Austin this week, then at the end of next week I head to Alaska for over a week (work with a little personal trip to kick it off), and then I get back to Houston for a week before flying to D.C.

I knew well in advance that would mean I’d need some help here on the blog.  So while there will be a handful of new posts from me, there will also be some wonderful guest posts (including every September Fashion Friday – can’t wait to debut this week’s!) and a few of my past favorites.

This leadership post, entitled Leading Past The Fear, ran last March and still rang true to me today when I was sifting old posts:

Today, we’ll tackle when leading, or the chance to lead, has you shaking in your boots.

When I interviewed Diane Yu from NYU for the book, I appreciated her candor.  The first thing she shared with me was a that leadership IS HARD.  Not for the faint of heart.

There’s this idea that leadership is all success and prestige and honor.

But leadership can mean loneliness, hard decisions, intense pressure, and tremendous responsibility.

Fortunately, she went on to say that you should still lead if given the chance.  Just go in prepared for what’s ahead.

Very recently, I was given the opportunity to lead in a way and within a timeline that was completely unexpected for me.  Do you know what my reaction was?  Nausea.  Fear.  A strong desire to step back and say, “no thanks, I’m not ready for this.”  My closest friends were encouraging me and cheering me on while I was ready to tuck tail and run.

The opportunity, on its face, was exciting.  But there was some quantifiable risk that accompanied the opportunity.  Unpredictable personalities and an unknown outcome.

Some days, you feel ready to tackle those challenges with abandon.  However, given the fact that I’d had to tackle a fair number of new leadership opportunities this past year, this challenge just left me tired.  Ready for a little of the familiar.  The low risk way of life despite the low return.

I took the challenge anyway. 

As you know if you’ve read this blog at all in the past, I am a strong believer that these opportunities come from God.  Not as a result of luck or timing or karma, but because God has a plan for my life and this is part of how He would like to use me.  This is not to say that you shouldn’t say no to certain opportunities.  You absolutely MUST say no to certain opportunities so that you can make room for the yeses that matter.  This was a yes that mattered.  This was a yes that, if I took it, could show others that God can do big things.  Because there’s no way, on any normal timeline or in any normal circumstances, I should have this opportunity.

So I said yes.  I still felt completely nauseous.  I still do.  I’m still shaking.  But with great (smart) risk, comes great reward.