Gifts to the Spirit in the Season

Some of the best holiday gifts are wrapped up in our experiences during the season.  They are traditions that remind us of who we are and what matters most in our lives.

Time out for Togetherness.   We make time to celebrate with friends and co-workers and re-connect with old friends and acquaintances at holiday parties. We travel great distances to be with family. What a gift to the spirit to rediscover that our relationships define and nurture us and they will do so throughout the year if we just find ways to take these time outs throughout the year.

Year-end Deadlines. Every year we rush to tie up loose ends and wrap up projects before the holidays and the advent of the New Year.  This compulsive behavior does add a large dose of stress into the season but it also yields a sense of accomplishment and closure in our work.  We can look back over a year of learning, practicing our art, and giving our best to whatever we have chosen to do.   

Tests of Willpower.  The holiday season is a sugar-coated minefield for our health. It is a test of our willpower to walk through the holiday parties, gift cookies and candies, and special meals without gaining weight. It is an even greater challenge to navigate all the expectations of the season and keep our perspective and mental health in good shape.  The survival strategies we deploy to stay on course remind us that it does take great resolve to keep ourselves in healthy balance and wellbeing.

Appeals for Generosity.  Every day our mailboxes are crammed with advertisements and charitable appeals. These are challenges to our sense of stewardship.  Do the gifts we choose express our love and awareness of others or simply demonstrate our insecurity about our relationship with others and our status in the world? When we sort through the charitable appeals to decide who to support, we too can have a philanthropist’s opportunity to make a difference in the world. We can choose to ease or end poverty for people nearby or in other countries. We can make a down payment on a cleaner environment. We can choose to invest in the peace and harmony we seek and celebrate in this season.

Resolutions for Renewal. There’s a forgiveness and grace in turning the calendar page to the New Year.  We get to set goals and make plans with a sense of possibility and hope.  This will be the year we take charge of our behaviors and attitudes and live up to our human potential.  

Signature i wishes you these and many more gifts to the spirit in this holiday season.

Generalists and Teams Thrive in Complex Environments

The world may be getting more complicated and chaotic but the best way to ensure job security in this environment is getting simpler: become a well-educated generalist willing to keep learning and develop teaming skills.

Career counselors advise young people to become broadly educated and versatile to keep their career options open in a fast-changing world. Workforce projections are unreliable; tomorrow’s high-demand occupations can quickly become over-supplied or out of date. The most useful skill is to know how to learn for the multiple careers people are likely to have in a lifetime. The more broadly educated people are the more options they will have when it comes to choosing and changing careers. The best career strategy is to choose employers who offer substantial education benefits and professional development.

When employers are surveyed, they report they want a variety of basic skills such as reading and writing, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, professionalism and leadership. Employers are adding to their wish list emerging priorities such as innovation and creativity, cultural competency and digital literacy.

Employers of all types want to hire potential leaders who can innovate, solve problems and organize diverse individuals into results-oriented teams.   People with a career portfolio of different work experiences and project knowledge are more intriguing to prospective employers than those who have followed a defined career pathway. With old roles and boundary lines blurring in every field, organizations need people who have proven they can learn deep and fast and become specialists and change agents for the moment in the latest opportunity.

Professions will find it increasingly difficult to draw hard lines around their work scope and competencies to exclude others.  Instead they will be asked to accept a more fluid and collaborative environment that relies on and rewards successful teaming.  The innovators in healthcare, science, business and government programs are using interdisciplinary teams to manage complexity and solve tough challenges.

Corporations are trading their cross-functional teams for teams that can swarm to problems and connect inside and outside their enterprise to the expertise they need. Gartner says by 2020, this new form of teaming called swarming will help organizations adapt to work that is less routine and characterized by increased volatility and hyper-connectedness.  Gartner says “swarms form quickly, attacking a problem or opportunity and then quickly dissipating. Swarming is an agile response to an observed increase in ad hoc action requirements, as ad hoc activities continue to displace structured, bureaucratic situations.” Individuals in a swarm may only know one another through weak links. People will navigate their personal, professional and social networks to survive and exploit swarms for business benefit. Hyper-connectedness will lead to a push for more work to occur in both formal and informal relationships across enterprise boundaries.