Too often at the end of a year, I hear people complain about how bad the past 12 months have been and how they are hoping for a better next year. The whining can get tiresome.
I understand there are years when struggle seems to be the only road we are traveling. I had one 5 years ago when multiple, life altering events wrecked me emotionally. All three events occurred over the course of 5 months. Still, I did not view the year as a loss for, though I had lost people, I grew as a person and was stronger as a result. Bad things happen to us, however, what is really important is how we react to those challenges. We can let them destroy us or be the jumping off point for personal growth.
More frustrating to me is to hear people say they are hoping for a better year. Hope is not a plan people. Hoping is counting on luck for a better tomorrow which is like playing the lotto….very, very few get a payoff. The only way for next year to be better than last year is if you are proactive, plan a better year then use your energy to make it a better year.
This mindset has ensured each of my last five years has been better than the previous. This has left me grateful for my past and very excited for my future.
With that, my 2012 in review:
Not all those who wander are lost. ~J.R.R. Tolkien
One word sums up my 2012 traveling year. SPECTACULAR! This was the single greatest travel year in my life. I visited three countries on two different continents. Two of those were for business (Switzerland and India) during which I ensured to carve out some pleasure time and one was purely for pleasure (Turkey). Two of the trips were planned early while the third was the result of my new role at work.
I have been to Switzerland (Blog 1, 2, 3) a few times before so knew what to expect form this beautiful and expensive little country. Besides walking through the villages on unseasonably warm days, I was there with a very large project team from various parts of the country, many who I count as friends. We ate together, drank together, and strengthened our friendships.
The next trip encompassed both Europe and Asia with a visit to Turkey (Turkey Blog List). This was my first ever trip to either continent that was not centered around business. I shared this trip with Irene, a seasoned traveller, who enjoys travel even more than I if country count is any indication. She loves to explore and is not beholden to five star hotels so the trips are more palatable to the pocketbook. She brings to travel a point of view other than my own which helps me see more, enjoy more.
Turkey was an amazing country, pregnant with ancient history that held my attention rapt with every step we walked. We visited three areas – Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Izmir – each with it’s own unique subculture. However, they all had in common was friendly people and some of the most amazing food (taste and texture) I’ve ever had the opportunity to eat.
Turksan gave us an insider’s tour of Istanbul replete with historical places and local flavor. Kenan, Selma, and the always smiling Mustafa walked us through many of the ancient wonders on the Western seaboard. The four gracious hosts helped make the trip very memorable, very special, the trip of a life time.
My final business trip of the year found my returning to Pune, India, a city I first met 6.5 years ago, visited 3 times in one year then had not returned to in 5.5 years. Going there was almost like coming home again as I met up with some great old friends and made a bunch of new ones all while helping the people I lead form a more cohesive team.
Highlights of the India trip included visiting the Karla Caves, participating in a local festival which included dancing on the roof of our office, and finally learned how to play Cricket, a game with rules that have eluded me for some time.
The secret to getting ahead is getting started. ~Mark Twain
I started out the year with a plan, a plan to address a hole I saw in my organization, a hole, I believe, if not plugged would lead to leadership decay in the organization. I did not see us building bench strength for current/future leadership positions so I started a leadership training program.
I originally wanted to open this to a few people in my department. When I proposed it to my Manager, I was told I was thinking too small and that it should be open to the entire Engineering community….and that’s what we did. I had some naysayers but my Manager believed in me so the program moved forward.
I have been practicing/studying leadership for about 20 years so believed I had enough personal knowledge to create and execute a solid program. I figure I would read a book or two to shore up some of my content. I soon found out my content would need more knowledge than was readily available in my head. Reading multiple leadership blogs became a daily routine, something I routinely did before even getting out of bed in the morning. The books related to leadership accounted for 20 of the 102 books I read during the year.
Working on class preparation frequently found me entering a state of Flow, a time of existence where time seems to melt away. I would raise my head from my work and find I had been at the office for 12+ hours. The first group of 7 to go through the training gave it rave reviews so Management decided to take a 2nd run of 7 which is currently underway.
When the first group was coming to an end a concern that was creeping up in me became a full blown revelation. Six trainings does not a leader make. So, late in the year I created a follow on program where we will meet on a monthly basis to discuss all things leadership and seek out opportunities to apply our leadership skills in the organization to affect positive change.
Into the fire: Half way through the year, in addition to my Managerial and leadership training duties, I was assigned the role of Project Manager for a struggling global team. When teams are working well, leadership just needs to ensure they don’t get in the teams way. Working with this struggling team is requiring me to put into use many of the tools/techniques I trained on in the leadership class.
I contracted bronchitis in the late Winter, a fairly severe case and my lungs never really seemed to recover. Consequently, my plans for a 3rd consecutive year of mountain bike racing never got rolling. I missed the competition and the camaraderie of like minded individuals.
The time planned for training was moved toward my professional life and a deep dive into the world of literature. I read more books and greater variety than any time in my life. My appetite for reading became insatiable. The first book I plan to start in 2013 is The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, the massive (1232 page) third volume detailing the life of Churchill with a focus on the war years. Having devoured the first two volumes over a decade ago, I have been waiting publication of this final volume.
The most important undertaking of my entire life (raising my children) is showing fruits. My kids are all out of school now and have moved on to careers of their own, careers they seem to enjoy which, for me, is an important indicator of success. The oldest has moved out with her family, including my grandson (snif, snif) who has lived with me for most of his eight years. Having grown up in a large, noisy family and having had noisy kids for most of my adult life, living in a quiet environment is strange bordering on disconcerting.
My blog featured 176 posts this past year. It’s an adventure e that has brought me personal happiness, introspection, growth and has helped refine my ability to write. This is important because, some day, I plan to write a book.
The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades ~Timbuk3
I am very excited about 2013. Not because there is some mystical meaning to an arbitrary day demarcating a new year as denoted in the Gregorian Calendar system. I wake up most every day excited, excited to know I have another day to walk this earth and discover treasures like those I found in Turkey, excited to learn more about myself which seems to be an ever blossoming flower, excited to do more things, excited to know there is a future, excited because I plan to make my tomorrow better than today which is already better than my yesterday.