New Year

2014 was a year of change.  This year my family was devastated by loss and dramatic change.  It was one of the hardest years emotionally on record.  At the same time my wife Erin proved to be one of the most courageous and resilient people I have ever known.   I very rarely enjoy posting anything personal about my family but today is a little different.   This year we lost our father Robert O’Brien.   He was taken from us very quickly this year and it was not an easy transition for him.   Out of this great family tragedy my Erin stood by her father and step mother every step of the way.  She drove many miles everyday making sacrifice and extending herself in ways no one could have expected.   She managed to do this and go to school full time and still make time to take care of our family.  She never let anyone down and she never quit even when she was exhausted.    When Dad passed on, it didn’t end.  Erin had to help take care of the end of life concerns and all of the things that parents and loved ones leave behind.   On a daily basis she dealt with many challenges and she took many punches but she never stayed down.    Even through all of these difficult times Erin found ways to support me through changes in my career.  It was the right time for a change for me and that also meant a move.   Our whole family was thrown off by my transition.  Through it all, Erin stayed tough and resilient.   Erin is more than my rock, she is a motivator,  a driver and an enabler for me.  I am lucky to have her in my life and I am lucky to know her.   As we look to 2015, I know that no matter what happens, that Erin and I will work through it together, day by day and that this year marks the closing of one chapter and the beginning of the next.  Thank you Erin for being you.  2015 belongs to you..

Erin and Me

In the Wake of Fear

Wake

In the consulting world we think of work in terms of 3-6 months, 1-3 years and maybe if we are lucky 1-5 years.  I was very blessed with many years on a client site until sequestration hit.   The impact of sequestration was far reaching.  It was a curse and a blessing for a lot of us.   Where it did the worst damage wasn’t in our wallets or pocket books but in our hearts and minds.

The lack of stability or illusion of stability caused many people to change their behaviors.  In some cases people were under what a good friend called “disaster fatigue” in relation to the job.  In other cases people made dramatic and extremely unusual life changing decisions on their careers including where they live and what they do for work.

Additionally, people would work longer hours and harder thinking that in some way that extra effort would make a difference.  Or the fact that they worked so hard and created so much content or product that it would add additional value that would change someones mind and funding would come.   In fact, the people that didn’t have the money to fund the efforts were as upset as the people that were losing their jobs.  Most folks had come to look at the consulting and contracting staff as friends and family.  They depended on the expertise and the ability of consulting teams to reach back across their organizations and bring ideas and concepts from thought leaders in multiple industry areas.

It was all lost and those who had served and felt part of the pack had to leave their post because the money wasn’t there.   All of the knowledge that walked out the door.   The system had broken and change was happening without a mechanism to help steer it and people were being effectively flung from their companies.   The companies lost credibility with their work force and trusted relationships turned into spy vs spy.  It didn’t seem that there was hope.  In a lot of ways and in some places this is still going on.

I have a message for you.  If you look at the people that left or were forced from these organizations, you may find an interesting surprise.   Most of them found work and are better off than they were before.   Most of them found that what they were doing was holding them back and that their fears of leaving were keeping them from doing what they needed to do long before.   You might also find they had to face their fears and they had value in knowledge, skills and abilities that they thought were lost or unrealized.

The time allotted on a consulting, contract or any work engagement is an illusion.  We never know how much time we have at work or in this world.  If we recognize that every day is a gift and an opportunity, we can make the best of each day and leverage the energy that fear zapped.  We can take that energy and focus it like a laser beam to find and achieve our daily goals which will lend themselves to our weekly, monthly, yearly etc.

If we replace fear with purpose and we let it go, we can achieve what we can currently see as possibilities.

It is up to you..