Taking Time to Find Balance

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A few more days remain before the start of 2015 and you have been bombarded with self help advice and tips for the new year. I plan to focus on balance and how I spend my time because creating space for balance will support my health, happiness, family, friends AND the growth of my business. How do I find balance in a chaotic world?

1) Take a time audit. Measure how you are spending all of your time. How many hours are you spending on work? What type of work are you spending your time on? How much time do you set aside for personal growth? Time with family and friends? Exercise? Church activities or religious studies?  Where is time well spent and where are your liabilities? Here is one of many time charts available online. http://www.organizedlife.org/uploads/Time_Audit_Chart.pdf

2) Enjoy the moments. Turn off the devices and take time to enjoy the simple joy of being alive and live in the moment with those around you. I will gaze at the stars more, watch the clouds, play “daddy monster” with my children more often, and enjoy the taste of a ripe strawberry. Life is a gift.

3) Take time for silence, prayer, and meditation. I like to move fast and keep a busy schedule and sometimes struggle with focusing on stillness and quiet. I find that I eventually “hit the wall” and “crash” if I don’t take time for rest, silence, prayer, and mindful meditation. I have attended many retreats and felt the most refreshed and reenergized after those retreats that focused on silence and removed the necessity to speak.

4) Create a simple plan for your time based on the results of your time audit. Where would I like to spend more time? Where am I spending too much time or wasting my time (being inefficient or unproductive)? What would I do if I had all the time in the world? What is holding me back from those activities?

5) Say no. It is the hardest word to say for many of us, but it is one of the important and needed words. Doing too much can lead to a host of negative consequences and ultimately does more harm than good for everyone involved. No, I can’t volunteer for that committee, board, project, or wonderful opportunity, but perhaps next year. It is like the family that buys a bigger house to hold more “stuff.” After a few years the family ends up needing an even bigger house.

6) Delegate. Whether it is for work, home, community activities, or other aspects of our life we need to call upon others to help us get the work done. As Sondheim wrote, “No one is alone, truly. Someone is on your side.” If others are not willing to help (especially if it is a volunteer project) then the best and most difficult answer might be to simply say no. We are human beings with limited resources, but together we can make anything happen.

7) Value your time. All too often we fail to adequately value our time both for work and our personal life. What is your time worth? Does the time spent with family and friends have the same value? My wife places the highest value on time spent together and when I don’t value that time then problems arise and our relationship suffers. Consider the value of your time carefully when you say “yes” or “no” to opportunities.

May you enjoy a very happy and healthy New Year!

Collaboration and Fear of Failure

TEDxPresenters

I had the privilege of sharing a presentation on “Transforming Urban Communities Through the Arts” at the inaugural TEDxFSCJ held on the stage of the Wilson Center for the Arts. As I listened to the speakers and watched the prerecorded TED talks, I saw a few common themes emerge. Almost all of the initiatives described (improvisation, aquaponics, fast superfood, urban gardens, arts hubs, and more) required people power. As I shared in my talk, “When we come together to create something then anything is possible. Egos, turfs, the silo mentality, possessiveness, and a focus on ‘what’s in it for me’ must be set aside in the interest of the greater good.”

A second theme was a major focus at the end of the day as several speakers described failure and the fear of failure as holding us back from reaching our fullest potential. I have personally seen this fear take hold of some students when they simply give up. They are not giving up because they can’t do it, but because they don’t believe they can do it and are concerned about messing up. So many terrific community initiatives would never have begun if failure held back the individual or individuals who birthed the idea. I run into so many people who aren’t doing what they love because they fear that they can’t make a living doing what they love. I also meet many people who are doing what they love and wish they had started on that path sooner. What can you do to start down that path?

  • Set a bold vision. Something simple, broad, and inspiring. Put it on your wall, in a notebook, on your computer and glance at it every day. Share it with others and don’t let it sit on a shelf and gather dust. Use it in your 10-second or 20-second elevator speech.
  • Create a plan for the future. Set milestones and goal posts. You should have checkpoints and markers along the way so that you can stay on track and revise your strategy based on what is or isn’t working. Do you know where you’re going and how to get there? As many terrific leaders have said, “Begin with the end in mind.”
  • Collaborate with your friends, family, coworkers and neighbors. Invite them to the party! Send out some of those Doodle Surveys and find a time to chat about your ideas over a meal. You’ll be surprised at how many people want to join you on the journey and become just as excited about your ideas as you are.
  • Refocus your energies on the positive. It is important to understand the pitfalls and challenges, but as the song goes, “You’ve got to accentuate the positive.” All too often we give too much weight to the negative voices in our head and our community and we stop believing in ourselves. Your idea could have merit and change the world (or at least your neighborhood).
  • Make sure you are accountable to others. Ask a few of your mentors and trusted advisers to provide feedback throughout the process. Make sure that you are sharing updates and goals with your spouse or closest friend. Allow them to provide you with real, honest and valuable advice.

To Greenville and Back Part 2

We have all of the tools and resources needed in Jacksonville to accomplish everything that Greenville and other cities have done in transforming their urban centers. We are a city of entrepreneurs, creators, designers, and volunteers who are committed to building something truly great.

I was especially inspired by the work of several women who saw the need for a children’s museum in Greenville and set about to making that vision a reality. I had a terrific tour with two fellow travelers and the staff member who gave us the tour was incredibly proud of the museum. You can’t bottle pride!

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Now The Children’s Museum of The Upstate has bragging rights as the 7th largest children’s museum in the country, 10th largest children’s museum in the world, and the only Smithsonian affiliate that is a children’s museum. Can we do it? Yes!

I discovered a similar initiative in my own backyard (Children’s Museum of St. Augustine) when I returned from Greenville and I look forward to seeing progress on that project. All of this leads me to believe that we can do anything here in Jacksonville. We just need a strong cohesive vision and the willingness to pursue that vision despite any obstacles and maintain that vision on a long-term basis. Can we do it? I believe we can.