The Wall

I hit a wall. The Wall. The wall I didn’t think actually existed. Currently, I work full-time as an administrator in a teacher preparation program at a private university in Southern California. I am entering year two of my doctoral program, which means reading, writing, and reading some more. I also just began my first term as an Adjunct Professor, teaching Graduate level courses. I write a leadership blog and have a side business as a Notary Public Signing Agent,  Plus, I am a wife, mother, and Nana to five amazing grandchildren.  I’ve reached my capacity.  There isn’t anything left.

I’ve hit The Wall.

Technology allows us to work around the clock. We answer email at midnight, write reports in the early morning hours, and take conference calls in our pjs. The lines between work and life have merged so closely we can’t determine where one ends and the other begins. Creating work-life balance is not just a goal; it’s a necessity.  Experts agree that stress from the never-ending workday can damage relationships, health and overall happiness.1

Every person must determine their own method for balancing career and home.  The Wall will be different for every individual and every family.  These tips may help you find the balance that’s right for you.

  1. Unplug – It’s important to find time to unplug – move away from the phone and the computer. If you have a chance to eat a meal with your family, turn off your phone and eat. When watching your daughter’s soccer game, turn off your phone and cheer. When out on a date with your spouse or significant other, turn off your phone and engage. Relationships will always be more important than careers. Give your family the same attention you give your clients.
  2. Move Your Body – This is a message I need to give myself. We find ourselves locked in our offices and at our desks too many hours each day. Get up and move! If you can get to the gym, that’s great. If not, take a walk. Recently, my spouse and I have started taking short – very short – walks around the neighborhood after dinner. This allows time for us to reconnect, moves our muscles a little bit, and even allows us to get to know our neighbors better.
  3. Schedule Downtime – Sometimes it’s necessary to actually schedule time to relax. Schedule time each week to recharge and reconnect. Put it on your calendar and guard it as much as any other important appointment. Date night at your favorite restaurant, movie night at home, a massage, or just thirty minutes with a good book – put something on the schedule every week.

Every person’s wall is different. Understanding when you’ve reached your capacity is critical to achieving balance between home and career.  Protect your life from the sneak attacks trying to steal your work-life balance.

Guard the Wall



1 Deborah Jian Lee, Oct. 20, 2014, Tips for Better Work-Life Balance Forbes Magazine

Leadership, Motivation and Candy Crush!

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation. How can I motivate others? (I can’t). Where does motivation develop? (Inside). Is there a difference between motivation and inspiration? (Yes, definitely). The strange thing about motivation is you must be motivated to get motivated.

Getting started is the most difficult part of motivation. Once you begin the journey, motivation grows with each step. The most important step is the first one. A person cannot move anywhere without taking that first step. But, that first step is the most risky. Motivation asks us to begin the journey without knowing where it will end. We must remember, however, that the journey is the ultimate success. Success arrives at many different points along the path – not just at the end.

These great moments of wisdom occurred during the stimulating brain activity that is Candy Crush. Yes, the game. I may have a bit of an addiction.  A confusing addition, I admit. Why do I continue to play a game that regularly tells me I’ve failed to achieve the goal? As a leader and career coach, I understand this is not the usual method for encouraging a person. I’ve asked myself – what motivates me to try to reach the next level? There is no prize, no great gain. In fact, completing one level only leads to another, typically more difficult, level. Yet, I continue to try.  Why?

My motivation for Candy Crush is derived from inside. A desire to prove I can accomplish the goal. Even though Candy Crush reminds me I’ve failed, I know the goal is achievable. I have the skills to be successful.  The goal is just far enough out of reach to make me desire to try a little more.

This is motivation – the knowledge that I have the ability and skill to successfully accomplish the goal.

Motivation best occurs when the skill required is just a small stretch from what is already possessed by the individual. It is unlikely a pee wee baseball player would be highly motivated to play against a major league All Star – or vice versa. If a goal is too easy, a person becomes bored. Too difficult, they may stop trying.

Continue reading “Leadership, Motivation and Candy Crush!”

Find Strength in Vulnerability

I sat in the audience listening to the keynote speaker. He was a former leader of a multi-billion dollar company – an author, speaker, and leadership consultant. I should have been engaged in learning from this expert. Instead, I was focused on his somewhat tedious delivery. He had a lot of great things to say, but he hadn’t grabbed my interest long enough to make me listen. Then he said something that changed everything.

In the middle of some point on leadership, he just stopped, stared at the audience, and said, “I have a confession to make. I’ve only been doing this four months. I just left my extremely high-paying job to do this – deliver keynote talks. I’m scared to death.”

It was honest. It was vulnerable. And, it grabbed my interest. I listened closely to all he said for the next 45 minutes.

Authentic vulnerability is extremely desirable and extremely difficult. It’s risky and frightening.  Personally, it has been the most difficult thing I’ve had to learn along my leadership journey.  But, leaders who understand vulnerability, lead teams who are willing to risk anything for them.

Leadership vulnerability creates a safe place for people to risk, create, and dream.

When leaders are vulnerable, their followers are secure in the knowledge that perfection is not the expectation; willingness to try is the expectation.  Vulnerability makes you human, but it must be exercised carefully.

It isn’t… ”I have no idea what I’m doing on this project.”   It is… ”Although I have expertise in curriculum development, I need to lean on your input for assessment.”

It isn’t…  ”Your job and mine are on the line unless we make our numbers.” It is…  ”We had a tough first quarter, and we need to pull together to achieve better results. Fortunately, we have a great team and I know we can do this. Where should we start?”

Vulnerable leaders inspire dedicated followers. Draw in a big breath and be honest with your team. Their strength will develop within your weakness.