Urgent, Not Important

The ROOSEVELT DECISION MATRIX, also “letting it in.”

I created an Idea Board out of painted homosote that sits on the floor and leans up against the wall. I’ve begun to pin, using my favorite yellow quilting pins, all of the ideas I have for things. I’ve realized that when I share my entrepreneurial design ideas with Martin I get a little nervous but which is one, silly, two, means I should share my ideas more, and three, odd because I believe all ideas should be shared as bad ideas can definitely lead to good ideas (I say this all the time!). But even our sales trainer / coach revealed that he creates a visual “goals board” and seeming like magic, if visualized things tend to actually happen. So let’s see.

Idea Board with Pins


Unknown Theme

I can’t find an overarching “theme” to my ponderings in this month. I had a birthday before which I had given myself the deadline of being licensed. Circumstances out of my control (the single architect on staff left) leave me feeling like I’m running a marathon only to have (been?) tripped and sprained my ankle at the last 0.5 mile. I have 80 hours of AXP hours saved and submitted, waiting to be approved. I am an Architect. But I’m not.

(Successes and failures… celebrate them both here. I don’t want the overall tone to be complainy…)

Give a Shit *

I’m going to write about my transitions from being wary of caring a lot, deciding to care a lot, caring too much (and being basically told to stop caring so much), (then in response) deciding not to care, and finally settling back on caring a lot (and if it’s too much they can tell me to leave or I will leave on my own accord.) Kudos to anyone who was able to follow that….

Is emotional investment the same as caring a lot?

I made the explicit realization in graduate school that the more I put in the more I got out. Surely on some level I’ve understood this throughout all of my schooling. But it was the realization, when stressed, that my tendency was to blame the professors or school system for overloading me with too much work, I’d find myself thinking, screw it. But in the end, I am the person who loses out most from saying screw it. Your professor doesn’t care really. I told myself that this more in, more out benefits to self only applied to school, to enjoy it while it lasted because in the “real world” aka the work world it was back to slogging away for someone else and putting up these protective barriers. There was (and honestly still is) a fear that if you go all in at work that you will be taken advantage of or look like a fool, or both.

The question I asked myself though was what kind of life did it mean I was living if I was not giving my all at the place that I spend SO MUCH of my time day in and day out? Like, shit that really sucks to half commit to live your life full invested “only when appropriate.” And I realized that even in graduate school where I gave it my all and cared more than anything that I set boundaries for myself. I didn’t pull all nighters, I went to bed early, I left Saturdays as days to hang out with Martin, the dogs, our friends. Why couldn’t professional work life be the same? I give it my all but I set boundaries. Duh!

So I’m constantly setting those boundaries (it’s all too easy to work one weekend and then find yourself working every weekend) but I also began to invest emotionally in the “all in” policy. I care a lot about the work I do. I care about my team. I care about the details and the bigger picture conversations.

Looping back to the first paragraph then, when I am told that I need to “not be emotional” in a situation I basically hear, “stop caring.” Which to me also means, “stop being engaged.” Which I have already decided for myself that I won’t live my life that way. And for the record, I believe myself to not let my emotions at work carry over to what our clients feel or see. At the time that I was expressing my emotions I was doing so in the company of my team, whom I thought certain parties would empathize with me, instead I was verbally shut down. For that interaction my first instinct is to say, fine I’m going to stop caring. But eventually reevaluated and came to decision that I would always give a shit, and if that engagement wasn’t valued I’d find some other place for myself where it is.

* While on site one day recently I saw that my most favorite painter had a pin in his painter’s hat that read “Give a Shit.” Perhaps that’s why he and his crew are our best.



Team Chemistry

The biggest thing that I’ve been wondering about in Feb is TEAM CHEMISTRY.  My team at work is making some transitions both in people and in roles, and both because we have to make those changes due to structural changes (people taking other positions, leaders going on leave) but also because of growth desires (me learning to be lead, others taking on more management…)

I felt at the beginning of Jan at my performance review that I was pie in the sky, puppy dog in love with my team and told my “big” boss that I felt fiercely loyal to them (was that the phrase? I felt so strongly when I used it. My awesome team was also on the cusp of some big changes, maybe my emotions were foreshadowing that…)

It’s funny now because at the end of Feb I’m still wondering about the importance of chemistry but I also feel at times let down a bit by the leadership I see around me.  Our team has a titled Leader…but then I ask, is she?  Is everyone on the team actually a leader? So, am I actually a / the leader?  (I Read + Need to Review: How to Lead When You're Not in Charge) How does team chemistry come into play when people and organizations are stressed? Teams change; when do you decide to change a team despite the terrific chemistry? And in this case team chemistry that I believe makes the projects run smoother and our own people happier. That’s win-win in my book. (Also I Read + Need to Review: Start with Why + Leaders Eat Last) Whose job is it to recognize and bolster the chemistry? Is chemistry a factor of person? Two people interacting? By definition everyone involved? (I don’t truly believe that last one - there are plenty of situations I can think of when a few good chemistry active people can carry a whole team / other participants just kind of float on the waves of good chemistry.) Are the dips in good chemistry actually more emotional if a team typically / normally has good chemistry? Does good chemistry mean emotional involvement as well as professional care? Partially I would think that good chemistry means you are more resilient to challenges because you can interact with the people involved on a variety of emotional levels. Maybe you do take things more personally (bad) but then are able to resolve them more personally (really good) - which strengthens the interpersonal relationship on a whole and then adds even more to the chemistry.

Do I need a working definition of chemistry? Probably.

Team Chemistry // Company Culture // Leadership, Teams, Realationships

I googled “importance of team chemistry” and all the results that come up are for sports, specifically basketball and football. It makes me feel urgent to write about the phenomenon of chemistry in a creative and highly collaborative field like design + build / construction in general.



Roles Played

Roles I play and coming the realization that I’m at a point in my career that I’m “NOT QUITE…” a lot of things. Trying to be okay with that because there’s really no other choice but to embrace and move through it. Being not quite means I’m growing and learning.

About being asked by your boss to focus on certain things vs what you want to focus on - being self aware of what you want out of your career and place of work, understanding that that doesn’t always jive with others expectations of you, wondering then how to push back to “save your self / protect yourself” which is all a larger conversation of what you value.

  • the above is also a conversation of roles played

  • it was learning about what good goals look like (SMART)

  • what was also pivotal to me and directly an example of what I said above.  I realized that my goal setting is so focused on making sure that my life and career look / feel good 6 years from now, 10…25.  There’s no way to know where I’ll be in 25 years.  So the pivotal thought was where do I want to be in 3 years, 2?  Who cares about year 10, I bet it looks great if my year 2 looks great and was great.  A former colleague made me realize that by posting a comment about realizing the opposite, that she doesn’t think often about the far future.  And maybe that’s the trick, because she gets shit done.  

  • I was also charged with being a leader / exhibiting more leadership and it lead me to really begin to think about what that meant. The phrase “lead without authority” came up and the idea that middle managers" are the in the best position to enact change within an organization.

Roles Playing.jpg