Saturday, April 1, 2017

My First 100 Days Begin Today

Typically, as a business leader new to an organization, you come in and assess the current business environment, find opportunities for improvement, and begin to envision a strategy to make step changes for future success.  

The average number of days to see initial impact and results is around 100 days…though I’d argue there is no magic number for making a difference.  That milestone simply provides a platform for new leaders to step away from the fire hose long enough to come up for air and give a thumps up as an indication that they’re still up for the challenge (translation:  “fake it until you make it”). 
Last Day Happy Hour

For me, I find myself working with a much wider and completely blank canvas.  I am no longer constricted by a specific role or position.  I am no longer shackled by the parameters for which one would usually work within at a company.

After 19 years of waking to the familiar expectations of a single organization, this morning I awoke to complete freedom.  I could choose to do a post mortem analysis, but one of my commitments to myself is that I not waste another second on anything that no longer holds personal value to me.  And in this instance, there is little doubt in my mind as to how I arrived at this conclusion and decision to move on.  And there is no value in looking back.  I’ve already celebrated every milestone, lived every victory, and enjoyed every success firsthand. 

Beginning today, I work for me.  I’m not suggesting that I’m embarking on a new business venture, though I am not leaving that off my blank canvas as a future possibility.  No, what I’m saying is that for the first time, I am in a position to take a step back and consider exactly what it is I want to be doing with my next fifteen to twenty years in the way of a career.  And when I say, “I work for me,” I mean that while I am ready, willing, and able to deliver great results for the company of my choosing…at the end of the day, my objectives have shifted.  My work ethic commands nothing short of my full focus and attention.  But my personal journey has now intersected with my professional journey and from this point forward, I will either need a role that feeds my soul for the areas that touch me the most or the role will need to align with my expertise and ability to deliver great results, thus enabling me to work towards future goals that feed my soul and keep my heart and mind alive.  

In short, I’ll work for a company so long as it works for me too.  I accept the transactional nature of employment and changing business needs.  And if a company can’t inspire me to be my very best, those changing business needs flow in both directions. 

Over the next 100 days, I’ll be closely examining what the work looks like and my strategy for success.  I’m carving out my own vision this time, and once I’m clear on that landscape, I’ll have a better idea of the kind of company and people I want to surround myself with. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, there is a fire hose I need to get back to.  One thing I know for sure…once you begin a journey of this proportion, there is no turning back.  I will be overwhelmed, afraid, and at times, even remorseful for having set upon this journey.  I will wish I could pull a Dorothy and spin back to Kansas with some rocking red shoes.  But I know that the only guarantee I have now (and spoiler alert…this applies to everyone at any point in life) is that there are no guarantees about anything.  Because just as quickly as I put a plan to paper and pen, the variables change and I immediately need to adjust to changing road conditions and accommodate the areas I can’t change.

I consider this time in my life to be an awakening of sorts.  And I challenge you to similarly take stock in life, and think about your own awakening.  I’m not saying go to extremes and make a complete u-turn on life…but when you don’t pause on where you’re headed, sometimes you miss the chance to change course and direction.  It’s still taking shape for me, but a recurring theme in my own awakening has been that all the materialistic things I’ve spent years collecting and surrounding myself with have lost their appeal.  The days when I struggled to pay bills in my youth were actually the days when I was more sure of myself and confident in my ability to do whatever I wanted to do with life.  I believed it was as simple as setting my mind towards something and making it happen.  And in most instances, that proved out as being correct and exactly what was required.

There is a risk-averse mindset that creeps in as we get older, taking with it our early hopes and dreams.  I’m guilty of it and I’m now trying to reset the way I think about life and my approach to everything.  Don’t get me wrong.  I fight anxiety on a daily basis, worrying about absolutely everything.  But my observations over the course of my lifetime have proven to me time and time again that I always learned and benefited the most from the times in my life when I faced the biggest challenges or uncertain futures.  And I’m still swinging and ready for the next round.  More to come…


  1. Coincidentally, I started reading Seneca's On the Shortness of Life. Its a new series at Penguin on Great Ideas. You would definitely enjoy it. "Again, certain people reveal the most stupid indignation: they complain about the pride of their superiors because they did not have the time to give them an audience when they wanted on. But can anyone dare to complain about another's pride when he himself never has time for himself?... So you have no reason to claim credit from anyone for those attentions, since you showed them not because you wanted someone else's company but because you could not bear your own."

    And I've jumped a long way and am doing things for me. But here I am - still the first one in, still the last one to leave. My co-workers are way ahead of me at work-life balance. At least I'm where I want to be. I think I paid for this trip with my work reputation and if I want to keep doing things like this, I feel like I have to keep it up. Maybe I haven't broken my shackles; I'm just on a longer leash.

    Yours is a brave ultimatum and I admire your stand.