No business here, but it’s just been one of those days…
Ode to a Sports Mom
No business here, but it’s just been one of those days…
Ode to a Sports Mom
Maybe it’s the continual rain these last few weeks, but my boys don’t seem to be able to get along for any length of time. It’s not too surprising. Even though they generally enjoy a good partnership, they have different personalities, temperaments, and often different goals for the activities they take on. As kids, they don’t always navigate these differences (and the conflict that inevitably arises) very well.
As an adult, you assume you can use your judgement, reason and experience to bridge any gaps you may have with a business partner, but this isn’t always the case. Partnerships typically start out well – you like each other, have similar interests, and readily see how you can combine your talents and resources to grow your business, serve a broader group of clients, or divide the labor. Sometimes partnerships are born out of a need for camaraderie. And it’s all great, as long as you don’t ignore the differences that can drive you apart later.
Some sources of potential conflict:
And please, have a formal partnership agreement in place from the day you open your combined business! It’s easy in those early days (when you still like each other) to ignore your differences, but a partnership that doesn’t work out not only leads to feelings of disappointment, anger and betrayal, it can also financially devastate both parties. Approach this with the same caution with which you’d approach any major life decision and line out how you’ll handle any problems that arise.
My boys did not choose their partnership; it was thrust upon them by the accident of birth. Fortunately, they can usually resolve their differences and move on. If not, I’m there to intervene – and I clearly have the final say.
Any tips for terrific partnerships? Post your comments or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.
After watching my young sons lose yet another lacrosse game, I worried that they were not going to be too enthusiastic about the upcoming summer season. But I was wrong. Thanks to a good coach and healthy attitudes, they were able to celebrate the fact that they’ve improved greatly as a team, even if the win-loss record doesn’t reflect it.
Maybe I was projecting because I hate to lose. I can’t even let my kids win in Scrabble. I’ll happily beat them by 200 points and sleep soundly after I do. Not a nurturing attitude, is it?
It’s sometimes hard to shake the feeling that winning isn’t everything, but people who must win at all costs sometimes do dumb things – cheat, bend ethical guidelines, hurt others. I can honestly say I’ve never stooped that low, but I have been known to stay away from certain pursuits (think golf) solely because I’m not any good at them. It’s not that I’m ashamed or embarrassed by it. I just don’t find it any fun.
But there’s no doubt losing can teach you a few things:
The lesson I try to convey to my kids about winning is to celebrate, but be gracious about it. Don’t be arrogant, don’t talk trash, and don’t take success for granted. The difference between winning and losing is often one goal, and you can easily wind up on the other side of the equation.
Of course, winning feels better. I’m not denying that. But if you’re going to have a rich human experience, prepare to lose. But maybe only once in a while. And not at Scrabble.
What have winning and losing taught you? Post your comments or send them to email@example.com – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.
My mother is a sympathetic soul. When she sees me in the midst of my frenetic life, she often offers up this sage advice: “Maybe you should relax your standards a little.” Oh, if only she knew how far my standards have fallen!
For years I’ve told my kids, “You can be clean, clothed or fed – pick any two.”
As a high-achieving sort , I hit adulthood thinking I could accomplish anything I wanted. It was the 80′s after all – wasn’t that what we were told? I hit my first brick wall with a job that required 100% travel. Life on the road definitely limited my options. There were some weekends where I felt like all I did was unpack my suitcase, do my laundry, repack it again and leave for the airport.
It hasn’t improved over the years. I am now a self-employed mother of three with a husband who frequently travels for work. Talk about relaxing your standards! There are days I arrive at appointments and check to make sure I’m completely dressed before I go in. And days where I can’t even think about the evening activities in the morning – I operate with a view to about the next 20 minutes of my day.
Like many others, I’ve spent time exploring (the myth that is) life balance. And like many others, the challenge for me continues to be letting the little things go to focus on the big things. I’m somewhat coachable, so with the help of others, I’ve worked to identify my core values and in my personal life, I do adhere pretty well to those:
Oh, and I’m big on sleep. I seldom burn the midnight oil.
It’s harder in my business. I complete client work, and get the little tasks out of the way but never seem to get to the big, important ones like revising my website or upgrading my technology. It’s not that I’m avoiding the big tasks, it’s that the little tasks seem to be all I have time for. But I have gotten better about two things – saying no and asking for help, neither of which comes very naturally.
So here I am racing toward the end of another busy week. It’s a beautiful day, I have a ton of work to do, and my house is a mess. I need to cobble together something my family can eat for a dinner on the run, iron a shirt for a piano recital, reschedule a weekend appointment, perhaps tackle a few of the items on my endless to-do list. Which standards should I relax today?
Is life balance a myth? Post your comments or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.
Last week I attended an online nonfiction writers conference which was fabulous, but consumed a lot of time. Because I’m too antsy to sit for several days (and because I am perpetually behind on the laundry) I decided to multi-task. It seemed reasonable to me that in the course of three days I could sort, wash, fold and put away whatever laundry life threw at me while listening to the conference speakers and taking notes.
Turns out it wasn’t reasonable at all.
I washed sheets, towels, uniforms for two sports, dark clothes, light clothes and assorted socks and underwear. But at the end of three days I had laundry everywhere and I wasn’t close to “done”. And, of course, the uniforms were dirty again.
This is yet another example of how I set myself up for failure, by taking on more than I can accomplish in the time allowed. Or maybe I should say I set myself up for feelings of failure because who am I really measuring myself against, anyway?
To counter this, I’m trying out a new technique for sorting my tasks. I’m calling it Now-Later-Never.
Now tasks are pretty self-explanatory because they require immediate action – cleaning up cat vomit, taking a phone call from a key client, digging a dirty baseball sock out of the utility room 20 minutes before the game.
Later tasks are things I can put off for some amount of time without negative impact – scheduling routine appointments, filling out summer camp forms, outlining a presentation I’m not giving for two months. Admittedly, over time, some of these will become Now tasks.
Never tasks are my favorites. I just don’t do them at all because:
It’s true that by subscribing to this method there are times when I’m doing only what is required to get by. For those you in start-up business mode, think minimum viable product. Not very ambitious, perhaps, but it gets me by.
And granted, this doesn’t always work with the laundry – I’ve only opted to throw clothes out instead of washing them a couple of times. I’ll spare you the details.
What’s the Never task on your list? Post your comments or send them to email@example.com – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.
I’m a problem solver. As soon as I confront an obstacle my brain instantly switches into “how can I fix this” mode. That’s why I panicked only briefly when my son and I heard an ominous crunch. It was the sound of our large, “traditionally built” cat extricating an elaborate book report – a 12-sided, three-dimensional figure – from a grocery bag, and then sitting on it.
It takes a long time and a lot of tape and glue to assemble a 12-sided figure. And wouldn’t you know, he was even set to turn it in on time! We were not able to return it to its original condition but we did pop out the dents and retape the corners. It’s not perfect but it will have to do.
When you’re faced with a business problem, your first reaction might also be panic – or pain, disappointment, despair, disgust…any number of wonderful emotions. But after the initial hit, ask yourself this:
A natural proclivity toward problem-solving isn’t always a helpful thing. After all, there are some things you can’t fix – but you sure can expend a lot of energy trying. If something is truly unrecoverable it’s best to remember one phrase. Repeat after me: “I will cut my losses and move on.” It’s not perfect, but it will have to do.
What’s the best “fix” you ever came up with? Post your comments or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.
Well, it snowed again. I certainly hope winter has gasped its last because we have been reduced to the most pathetic collection of winter outerwear I have ever seen. Winter was long and hard, and my boys’ poor cold-weather garments have paid the price:
If you are building a mental image in your head right now you probably see two boys, one nine, one ten, in gaping coats. One is hatless; the other’s hair protrudes through the top of his hat. Their gloves and snow pants are ragged. There is 6″ of new snow on the ground. They look like twin versions of Oliver Twist. Yeah, that sounds about right.
(At least my daughter’s winter-wear is still in perfect condition, but that’s only because it has been stuffed in her locker, unworn, since November. It’ll be a bummer to cart all that stuff home on an 85 degree bus a month from now.)
I’m too exhausted by the weather (and the shoveling) to go through the principles of good inventory management – I’ll save it for my next post. But for now, take a good look at what you’ve got. Does it still “fit”? Is it in reasonable condition or is it looking a little worn? Would anyone else want it? Are there any gaping holes?
It’s too late this year to save our winter wardrobes. Until spring arrives for good, I’ll continue to stop by school to rifle through the lost-and-found in the vain hope I’ll find something I recognize. But I won’t fret too much. In no time at all it will be summer and that means one thing – “back-to-school” sales. I guess I can pick up a few things then.
Want to gripe about your winter (or gloat over your spring)? Post your comments or send them to email@example.com – if I use them I’ll feature your business.