I just got back from vacation. My body got back several days before my mind, but that’s neither here nor there. One glorious evening, I went kayaking on the Hudson River. Before we got started, our guide had us do a yoga move, balancing on one leg with our other foot resting against the inner knee in order to ascertain our balancing skills. This way he could know whether to take us out in the sporty, but easily-tipped kayak or the heavier, bulky one that was less likely to flip over. This launched all of us into a conversation about how people tend to lose their balance as they age and the reality that this doesn’t have to happen. In fact the reason we lose balance is because we’re no longer doing things that require us to work on it, things like walking fences and roller skating and even skiing. And that made me think about the fact that everything isn’t like riding a bike. Sometimes you have to practice your skills, even when you don’t need them, because you may wish later that you had them.
For me, for example, one issue has always been time management. There are the normal issues of running a business, helping my associates, business development, client relationships, talking with the accountant, writing a blog…. But I also find that a number of our clients only call us during crises (NOT what I would advise by the way). Because of that, everything has to sometimes be put on hold while we deal with the crisis, which sets other things back and makes me forget what I was about to do. Over the years, through lots and lots of practice, I’ve almost gotten to where such moments don’t throw me at all. I can slide over them like you slide over a wave. But it takes a lot of practice.
As a business owner, it’s easy to get out of practice on things you need to do. Like checking in with managers and employees to see how things are going. Or making yourself learn the new technology you bought for the office so people don’t make “Inept CEO” jokes, or setting aside time to do strategic thinking.
Habits, as we all know, are hard to build and easy to break. How many times has a class been perceived as a waste because the training didn’t stick? It was a great idea and it would have made all the difference in the world…but nobody took the time to practice any of the new skills. So now, nobody uses them, and it was money down the drain. If there’s something we want to get good at, or remain good at, we actually have to plan around practicing. We have to think about what is getting in the way of our achieving or preserving that skill set. The thing is, we generally do practice the things we want to practice. If the reward is great enough or the punishment harsh enough, we do that stuff. But there are really important skills that we let fall down…for a day, and then a week, and then it’s more comfortable just not to think about it.
Until we’re standing on the side of the Hudson River on one leg, thinking “I don’t want to be in the bulky, slow kayak.”
We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267