I spent half of August doing what I once thought was impossible. A year ago, I decided to purposely seek extended travel periods and make choices that were in support of that. Every month, I visit my family in north Texas and travel frequently as President of Texas Business Women. Quarterly, I take a week and visit family farther away or attend conferences. I went to the other side of the world for 21 days, kept my job, and didn’t use a bit of vacation time. Looking back, I realize I could have been doing this for the last decade. I just didn’t have the courage to make those choices.
After last week's post about deciding what to learn, I received several emails asking what skills I thought were most important. Certainly, skills like project management, public speaking, and self awareness are essential to building a career or a business. I doubt you're surprised by any of those. So, here's a list that might surprise you. Here are five skills you probably don't even know you need. If you don't have them, they're likely holding back your career (or your business), organizations you volunteer with, and even your parenting.
There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know. -Donald Rumsfeld Forget any political connotations to the statement above and think through the concept it conveys. It's absolutely true. To thrive in modern society, we must persistently remind ourselves that the third region exists. And we must work to shrink it, both by knowing more and by knowing what we don't know. We must learn how to learn, and we must learn to decide what to learn.
Gandhi told us to "be the change you want to see." John Maxwell teaches us that the first act of leadership is to start with yourself. I thought I understood that. I've been studying leadership for years, but it wasn't until I viewed it through the lens of parenting that I understood this principle: We can't lead anyone to the mountaintop unless we've already been there. This is true for our children, our employees, or anyone we love. If there's a mountain we're not willing to climb or a giant we're not willing to face, we're simply passing it on to the next generation. Thinking about that stopped me in my tracks.
One month ago, I lost one of my mentors. She'd guided me for more than half my life. The finality of our last conversation replayed over and over in my mind. Thankfully, it was an encouraging one, symbolic of our relationship. I cried harder than I have in years. In the days after, I realized something even more painful: This was likely only the first. Obviously, most of my mentors are older than me. And many of them are struggling with their health. Selfishly, I want them to get better. I want to enjoy several more decades of their friendship and leadership. They've helped me through several difficult stretches, and I want to celebrate the other side of that together. I also know that I'm not alone. I know that you want those you love to be healthier, and that you want to set a good example for those who love you. More than that, I've made the journey myself. Just over three years ago, I was there too. My clothes were always too small. I had headaches every afternoon. My digestive system was a mess. Nearly every day, I took some sort of pill to feel better. I never had enough energy to do the things I wanted. Like an explorer without a map, I stumbled frequently and often found myself in uncharted territory. Through trial and error, I discovered what worked for me and my family, and eventually my friends. In the years since, I've been able to back up my experiences with scientific research and case studies. I'm confident that what I know will be "common sense" in a decade or so. There's just too much evidence to be ignored for much longer. But I'm not willing to wait.
From Winston Churchill to Thomas Jefferson and Ernest Hemingway, plenty of historical figures were fond of standing desks. Based on a slew of current research about the negative health impacts of sitting, standing desks are making a comeback. There are also simple and inexpensive options for getting started, and I thought it would be fun to share them with you since several readers are giving it a try.