One of my weaknesses is that I get distracted. When operating in a team, with constructed deadlines and timetables, things are easy. A day’s mission or set of milestones are there to be tackled and accomplished. However, when a rogue agent like me, I’ve discovered the common challenge of effective time management. It’s harder to be your own boss.
It’s a skill we can always improve on—getting the most out of our day; and I see the danger that guys in my position can get into. I have a tendency to go on and on all day about how A, B and C can all change the world and help at work immensely; but without the follow through, it’s all a Ponzi scheme—shuffling one pile of enthusiasm to another, without ever accomplishing anything.
My personality doesn’t help. I’m an extrovert, so while I have that hard-charging attitude that Myers-Briggs talks about, I miss out on the detail-oriented aspects of being more introspective. As a result, I find that I have five or 10 projects in the works at any given time. Wikis for the European Command, DINFOS, the Public Affairs Department; video pages for the broadcasters, for my personal social media site; draft policy for NATO; access consulting for the Library of Congress; that novel…just for starters. If I don’t hunker down and follow through, it’s all for naught. I become just another zany distraction—all about theory with little execution.
I think the follow-through idea is the best part. I’d rather be a man of fewer initiatives but more thorough implementation. But—ha! don’t we all wish for other traits? Instead, maybe I need to write things down…or find a job where I can get some help. Maybe part of my problem is that I’m always working alone. Strange that the social media guy is always by himself. Hrmmm.
In addition to actually following through on initiatives, it’s also necessary to follow up once something is completed. In the case for social media initiatives, it’s good to touch base with people I’ve worked with previously. I’ve found that a lot of people have questions or concerns, but don’t want to be a bother or, worse, think they look like a fool.
But, far from it, when someone helps a group or organization set up something new, there’s always the need for further consultation. I’ve found calling up people I’ve worked with and asking how things were going gets a sigh of relief. At work, it’s the same. Continued training and encouragement is necessary for sustainable and consistent adoption of new initiatives. Otherwise, the flash in the pan is dazzling, but quickly dims to what was before.
Most discouraging is failure. When all of the best intentions for an organization get stymied in argument or inaction, or when an initiative just falls flat with no users or interest. That can make the social media advocate and supporters look the fool. The discouragement can bog down enthusiasm; but that’s where my journalist’s thick skin comes in. Jesus doesn’t love me any less when an initiative fails. Moreover, some of the big higher ups in my chain of command would rather me make a mistake in trying something rather than make a mistake by not trying something. So, really, where does the fear or sense of dread originate? Even in the midst of abject failure, it’s good to stick to the drive that spurred the initiative in the first place.
After all, execution that didn’t work out is far better than a promise without results. And a good attitude amongst failure will help keep a person trying to deliver on the expectations set forward by innovators and dreamers.