Tag Archives: Accomplishment

The Doing of It

I imagine that we all think of ourselves as doers – people who can do what needs to be done to get where we want or need to be.  It starts with the encouragement that most of us got when we did something simple like pile of couple of blocks on top of each other at an early age.  (That felt good, I want to do that again.)

 

My father was a doer – he made his lists, he planned, he checked tools and supplies, and one by one he checked off the points on the list until it was time to make a new list.  He had many skills that are useful for a homeowner and each of the houses that we owned showed some result of his carpentry, electrical, plumbing or other abilities before we put that house on the market and moved to the next one.

 

Dad built these bookshelves at Mom's request

Dad built these bookshelves at Mom’s request

Growing up watching him and sometimes helping, I thought I was a do-it-yourself-er.  Despite his flashes of irritation, he made it look wonderful to craft a new thing or fix something up.  It seemed very industrious, and clearly this was something to aspire to be.  But, I have come to the conclusion that while I might be an itinerate helper of a do-it-yourself-er, I am not – myself – a do-it-yourself kind of person.  At least in relation to work around the house.  I am very good at admiring a finely done piece of handiwork and I have picked up a bit of knowledge about the right way to do some of the tasks which is helpful when I hire out.

 

Mom, while more of an imaginer – an excellent idea person, was a doer in her own way.  No lists, well maybe a jotted thought here or there or a cut out article.  She too had handicraft skills because of her fascination with creation.  She learned to sew, knit, and crochet.  She tried her hand at gardening and drawing (stick figures).  I whiled away hours watching her turn a length of fabric into an article of clothing.  She was a better teacher than dad, but there could be flashes of impatience if a question was ill-timed.

 

We never talked about the difference between talking, dreaming, planning and doing.  The difference between short-term effort on a project and long term industry to create a life and support a family. The fact that some doing leads to a greater thing and some isn’t so effective. Does anyone really talk about these differences?

 

How well we each are at creating our own success is dependent upon how well we internalize the lessons we experienced in regards to doing.  There is much to the doing of it.

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Galloping or Inching

Progress is progress I tell myself on a regular basis – whether by inches or gallops.  I need this reminder because inches don’t feel like progress, especially when new things get added on faster than stuff gets done.  (Clearly this is on my mind, I return to some version of this theme quite a lot lately.)  Did I push it forward, or can I change the priority, or can I get some help?

 

Most people I know, particularly women, focus on all the things yet to do which makes it harder to feel like progress has been accomplished at all.  There is always more to get done, it doesn’t matter what you are talking about – personal, professional, family household, etc.  Relentless obligations.  Job security.  Life in our modern, complex world.

 

We want to gallop through our endless lists, but mostly we inch.

 

Inches matter and they do add up, but sometimes we have to remember where we started at to see how far we have come.  Reminding myself of the steps that I have taken that day to affect progress is a habit that I work to keep up.  Done, started, planned, researched, delegated, reprioritized.  Don’t spend all the time looking at what hasn’t yet been done.  Breathe, and then review what was accomplished at the end of each day – work and personal.

 

public domain image

public domain image

I admit to being better at sharing this nugget with others than I can be at following it for myself.  Although this is one of the ways that I put myself on the path to being a reformed perfectionist years ago.  (It is a path with no finish.)

 

A coworker came across a free webinar offering about remarkable women in leadership roles and sent out an invitation for anyone interested to join her in her office for this presentation.  A handful of us expressed interest and so spent an hour together listening and actively thinking about where we are and where we could be.  This aspect of accomplishment came up in relationship to confidence.

 

If a women is apt to focus on this things yet to do then she is less likely to feel confident in her abilities.  A rearranged focus that acknowledges the things completed or well on their way is a step toward confidence.  Doubt loses some of its foot-hold.

 

I wanted to ask my coworkers a bit about this and some of the other points from the presentation, but since we had spent an hour listening everyone felt pressed to get back to their lists of to-dos.  The march to inch forward.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

A Singular Purpose

It seems to be the thing to do these days when your life is altered by some sort of speed bump, start up a foundation.  If you have the means, or access to the means that is.  People at the lower end of the economic ladder might have fund raisers to help cover the unexpected bills that go along with these speed bumps.  If enough money is raised to cover their own bills, the remainder might go to help others with the affliction.

Capture

I’ve been thinking about causes and diseases that attract multiple foundations, which then often compete for the same donation dollars.  It’s that competition that got me thinking.  I understand that people want to honor their lost loved one (the most frequent reason to start a foundation in my unofficial research) but perhaps there are other ways.  A foundation has costs that take money off the top, whereas a donation to an existing organization in the person’s name could go directly to something useful for others still struggling through similar experiences.

 

Perhaps a singular purpose should be combined with a shared purpose to better serve the cause?  The question is what is most important – a cure, a solution or establishing a permanence for the lost person?  The best thing would be to find a method to do both.

 

When my dad died, we asked for donations in lieu of flowers to established causes that were meaningful to him.  He had a nearly lifelong association with Boy Scouting and so we also created a camp scholarship in his name at our local council.  I’m sure that money is long gone, mom was the point person with the council.  We wanted his name to live on with an organization that he loved and supported in many ways.  Hopefully there is a handful of young men out there somewhere who can say that they got to go to camp thanks to my dad.

 

Keeping the fund alive and continuous probably could have been accomplished, but it didn’t happen.  And this was a relatively small effort in comparison to a foundation.

 

When mom died, we again asked for donations in her name in lieu of flowers, this time for ovarian cancer research through an established organization.  I continue to give as part of the greater shared purpose to give families affected by this disease more solutions.  And more time than we had with mom once she was diagnosed.  Even if we had the means, I don’t think that we would have considered a foundation in her name.  Associating with an effective and established organization allows our assistance to be multiplied.

 

I wonder at this moment what mom would have to say to my idea, she worked as a fund raiser for a large hospital in Chicago for years.  She had some interesting stories about the large donors that they courted.  Ego was often involved.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Revisiting a Question

We back away, brush our hands off and think, ‘whew, that’s done now on to the next thing’ – problem solved, to-do checked off the list.  File it away.  Next.  But what if it isn’t?  What if in a few weeks, or months, or even years something happens to make us have to go through it all again; possibly even come to a different conclusion?

 

The medical community has revamped the protocols for cholesterol and statin use and that seems to have knocked people for a loop.  That question was resolved, we all thought anyway.  But life is cyclical, we learn new things on some other topic and the ripple effect can alter the decisions that seemed set in stone just a short while before.

 

“That is the one thing that I’ve learned, that it is possible to really understand things at certain points, and not be able to retain them, to be in utter confusion just a short while later.  I used to think that once you really knew a thing, its truth would shine forever.”

~ Lucy Grealy

Capture

It seems a bit like Lucy and I aren’t coming at this issue in quite the same way, but I think that we really are.  Where she mentions retain, it might be about keeping the knowledge fresh in our own memory, but it could also mean keeping it solid in light of new information or experiences.  Almost anything that we think we know is based almost entirely upon the context in which we know it.  If the context changes, our understanding of the thing can be thrown into confusion.

 

It might seem as though we are moving backward in revisiting a question, but if we are looking at it with fresh eyes and understanding then it is actually a good thing.  When the elements that went into the original answer have changed, then the nature of the question and the basis of the solution might be wholly different.

 

It isn’t a retread at all then, but a deepening and broadening of understanding.

 

© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Do You Know When You’re Done?

I was just plowing through a few household chores, feeling effective because I could see immediate results as things were put in their proper place, wiped down and such.  I felt like I accomplished something – a feeling that is hard to come by in our modern world.  Particularly at work.

 

Back when we were mostly an agrarian society, it was easier to see when we were done – animals fed and given clean stalls, garden weeded, wash on the line to dry.  A person could end the day with a sense of accomplishment.  Most of these tasks would still have to be repeated the next day, but a person could rest knowing that the job was done for that day; stability had been maintained.

public domain image

public domain image

 

Now there might be a quota of orders to fill in a warehouse, or parts to be made on an assembly line or projects to be worked on in an office but done is a bit harder to see and feel.  So what if I made and received a lot of calls plus dealt with many emails, I didn’t get done because there are still more.  That quota in the warehouse or plant might have been met, but there are still more behind them that the workers can see.  The quota is lodged in a computer somewhere.

 

We need to feel a sense of accomplishment, but we’ve made this nearly impossible to achieve.  That stability that previous generations could build seems nebulous to us.  How do we capture and nurture it again?

 

I wish I could say that I have an answer that works for me.  Even as I was whipping through the straightening and minor cleaning of my house this morning, there were glaring hints of the larger jobs that have been neglected for one reason or another (time, know-how, money).

 

One thing that I can say, since I have been aware of this accomplishment deficit, is that I make a point of reviewing what I have completed every day.  Even if it wasn’t something that I intended to do, or is very minor.  By consciously focusing on these checked off, crossed out tasks I can somewhat counteract the weight of all the partially done tasks in front of me.

 

What about you, do you know when you’re done?

 

© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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