Be Limitless

Photo by PixelAnarchy - Posted by BK -
Photo by PixelAnarchy – Posted by BK –

I recently had several interactions that reinforced how important it is to not expend energy or worry on what others think or say, but focus instead on knowing yourself and finding a selfless purpose.

This week, I had the privilege of hearing Colin Powell speak. He came to open the Veteran Services Center at Temple University and share his leadership experiences. He told us that after he was given command over a group, one of his lieutenants was upset that some of the men were saying that he got the job because he was black. His response was, “Who cares what they say!” His advice to the audience was not to worry about what other people say. Instead focus on working hard and being competent. He described how he was given opportunity to advance even in the most menial jobs because others noticed how he was working and he was rewarded for that competence. Colin Powell did not go to an elite military school. He grew up in the Bronx, struggled in school, and attended the City College of NY, where he discovered the ROTC and his life’s passion. He talked about being a leader that is selfless and kinder than necessary. His message was powerful and inspiring.

I also got the opportunity to share my leadership lessons with others this week. I attended a Women in Tech mixer with high school and college students who were interested in hearing from women professionals who have careers in high tech. I really enjoyed the interactions. One of the themes that I heard from others was how hard it is to be a woman in a the high tech industry. That has not been my experience. Like Colin Powell, I didn’t pay attention to whether others doubted my ability, I just did my best, tried to make a positive difference, and worked really hard. I was rewarded for competence and have been given opportunity after opportunity.

The most meaningful exchange of the evening made my entire week. Pallavi Kotturu, who is a senior at Temple, approached me. After a few minutes of talking about both of our experiences, she asked me what I was passionate about. As I explained that my passion was developing virtuous organizations and leaders, she lit up and shared her purpose and motto, which is:

Be Limitless
Empower Yourself & Those Around You

As we shared a deep connection and moment, I was so blown away that this young woman had already clearly learned what had taken me decades to understand. She had already discovered what it was like to live in freedom. She understood that being clear about who you are and connecting to a purpose that is focused on others gives you unlimited power, strength, and potential.

So this week, I got to learn from two virtuous leaders. One who is toward the end of his journey and another who is just starting hers.

My challenge to you this week is to notice whether you are feeling limitless. If not, take time to connect to a purpose that is focused on others.

Building Trust through Consistent Execution

Photo by Ryan Brandenburg/Temple University

Execution is about getting things done and holding ourselves and others accountable and trust is developed as we do this consistently. This week, I had an important reminder on how knowing your team members and getting things done together builds a powerful foundation of trust.

One of my goals has been to try to meet with every group in computer services and get to know the individuals across the organization. This week, I was able to complete that goal when I met several teams that work in a building, which is several miles from the main campus.

It has been so satisfying to go and meet with all of the computer services teams and hear about the great work they are doing. My meeting experience with each team has been remarkably consistent. Each team member is deeply grateful to be seen as an individual and the business partners rave about the great work that the Computer Services teams are doing and how much they rely on them. This is especially true when the technical teams sit next to their business partners.

The stories that were shared were about the quality of the outcomes, willingness to partner, and ability to meet commitments. Examples include moving a high performance computing (HPC) cluster over a weekend from a local university with login access available on Monday morning and hearing that the performance of the cluster was better once it was moved to our network. The ability of our team to exceed the expectations of the researchers cemented the relationship and created a basis of trust to have a full partnership. So far, I have heard that story every time I have met with the head researcher of that group.

Another story is about the business school, library, and computer services working together to put in a faculty management system pilot. When the group attended the vendor’s national conference, Temple was spotlighted as the institution that was able to bring up the system in the shortest amount of time. The team worked together to deliver a complex system that was both technically and politically challenging. Like most successful projects, this was possible because of the ability of the teams to align to common goals, work hard, compromise, and hold each other accountable.

These are just two examples of many positive stories that I heard. My observation is that Temple teams accomplish a tremendous amount with small teams that actively look to deeply leverage the full capabilities of the systems that we adopt. The creativity, hard work, and dedication of the team members has been awe inspiring. This consistent ability to execute on our commitments has built a powerful foundation of trust with computer services across the university.

Of course, I have also heard some stories of when we have not met commitments or delivered to the expectations of our partners across campus. The common themes in these stories are misaligned expectations, personality conflicts, institutional barriers, and poor communication.  So we have room for improvement as well as powerful successes to learn from and build on.

My challenge for you this week is to evaluate how you personally are doing in consistently meeting your commitments and building trust and identify one way you can improve.


Overcoming Procrastination and Anxiety

Photo by Unsplash -
Photo by Unsplash –

On Monday mornings, I write down things I need to do that week to advance my strategic initiatives and relationships. This usually helps me focus on important tasks and stay on track.  However, that was not the case the last couple of weeks. I committed to writing a short article for the Faculty Herald, feeling it was very strategic to communicate with the faculty. Despite putting the article on my list of things to do, I didn’t write it.

When I agreed to write the article, we did not agree to a specific due date. Yet when the faculty editor contacted me about the article, I was embarrassed because I had not started it. To hold myself accountable, I gave him a date when he could expect the article. However, I then found myself procrastinating with every possible task instead of writing the article and also feeling quite anxious.

Coming to Temple has energized me, and I have been working with a sense of freedom and joy. So feeling anxious was both a surprise and unpleasant. In fact, writing about how I felt brings back the feeling, which is a deep sickening gut clenching that my family calls the “melting liver” syndrome.

Knowing that I didn’t want to remain anxious, I spent time reflecting to determine where the anxiety was coming from. I identified several sources, including concerns about my children, missing my family, and obligations in caring for my ailing mother-in-law. However, my ego was also showing up in full force as I experienced the fear of looking bad and feeling inadequate, which made me avoid writing the article.

To shift away from anxiety and procrastination, I reached out to my husband and we talked at length about what was driving the anxiety which helped a lot. It was a very safe and supportive conversation and we were able to come up with a plan to care for my mother-in-law.

Then, I dived into writing in a quiet and focused setting and didn’t let myself stop until I had a first draft. I slept on it and then did a second draft before I asked for review help. Fortunately, I have a talented communications person who is a terrific editor and she pitched in to give support and suggestions.

I also made sure that I continued daily meditation and exercise. I reached out to my family and reconnected and I went forward knowing that I would feel better as I propelled into action and met my commitment.

The article was completed and submitted to the editor by the due date. My anxiety has lifted, which is wonderful: freedom and joy have returned.

Anxiety cannot be avoided and often concerns from one part of your life spill into other parts of your life. If you are feeling anxious or procrastinating, take time to examine what is fueling the feeling, ask for help, and make an action plan.