Changing Our Financial Paradigm

In my parents’ time and in my early career we went to work and every Friday we received a paycheck.  We knew how much was going to be in that check and could plan our spending based upon that.

For many of us, the paradigm of a regular paycheck is no longer the case, if indeed it ever was.  Business owners, management consultants, hairdressers, real estate agents, wait staff, housekeepers, and bartenders, just to name a few, don’t receive a regular paycheck.

To be financially solvent and move toward financial success requires a paradigm shift in the way those of us in those professions think about and manage our spending.

Tony X. Lee’s just released book, The Bartender’s Guide to Financial Freedom, available on Amazon.com, addresses the associated issues by taking the reader through an easy to follow ten-step process.

Tony, a long-term bartender with a wide following, whose bar rescue successes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are legendary, shares the lessons he learned first-hand, the tough way.

Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Fernandina Beach, Florida and Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups.  Her next book, The Executive’s Toolbox, will be released soon.

… “and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Last week I had a meltdown.  I’d been working on a project I thought would take two or three weeks.  Six weeks into the project not one, but two issues, both outside of my control, surfaced.

One’s been lingering for a couple of weeks and has been exasperated by the weather.  The second is one that could cause a further delay, expense, and effort on my part.  It was that second one that pushed me over the edge.

Fortunately, it was the end of an incredibly long day, so I had the chance to distance myself from the situation and gain perspective.  The next morning, I thought it through.

  1. I’ve moved these issues as far along as I can. There are other companies responsible for the next steps.  My only recourse is to ensure they’re aware of and accept responsibility for each issue, get a commitment, then stay in contact with them.
  2. There are a lot of other activities requiring my attention and effort.
  3. Stewing over this issue is a non-value add activity.

Once I got to #3, I had a blinding flash of the obvious when the last phrase of the Serenity Prayer, “and the wisdom to know the difference.” came to mind.  I started the day by contacting each company, then got back to those other activities that I could complete.

Even though I didn’t yell, curse, or cry, I’m still embarrassed about that meltdown.

Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups.  Her next book, The Executive’s Toolbox, will be released soon.

Admiring Our Problems

I’m heartbroken for the Jacksonville community who is living through the aftermath of yet another school shooting.  I’m also saddened and frustrated we haven’t put our differences aside to address the complex social issues that led to, not only this shooting, but the dozens of other issues our nation and our world are facing.

As a management consultant I’ve learned the first step in solving any problem is developing an understanding of the cause of that problem; however, our level of verbal discourse is so deafening we can’t hear each other.

Perhaps it’s time we quieted our voices and got started.

I don’t think any of us can pretend to understand how to address all the social issues causing our problem, but I was reminded yesterday I have the personal responsibility to do what I can to be part of the solution.

I been admiring our problems long enough.

I’m going to take the hour I’ve been spending every night sitting in my Lazy Boy, yelling at the television, shut my big mouth, and do something productive to work toward a positive solution to one of the issues I can address.

Even if my efforts only lay the groundwork for those who come after me, some of my greatest heroes never got to witness the effect their efforts.  Susan B. Anthony, for example, died before women ever got the right to vote.

I need to get busy.

Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups.  Her next book, The Executive’s Toolbox, will be released soon.

Own Your Own Power

I was first introduced to the concept of “owning my own power” after complaining to a friend about a professional colleague.  My friend wisely asked me how I had addressed the issue with my colleague.  I found it tough to admit that I hadn’t.

He paused and said, “Own your own power and quit acting like a victim.  Go talk with your colleague, explain the issue, and tell him what you need from him.”

Words to live by.  How many hours had I’d wasted before I was hit with this blinding flash of the obvious?  How ridiculous was it to be irritated because someone else hadn’t done what I thought they should, or, had done something I didn’t think they should have, yet not addressed the issue?

Even with that knowledge, sometimes it takes a sleepless night or two before I’m ready to admit that I’m upset with someone over an issue I have yet to address.

I’ve also learned that when I’ve stewed about a situation I have to be particularly careful to leave my emotions out of the dialogue when I address it.

Over time we each develop a method for doing this.  My current method involves writing the person a letter (not an EMAIL!)   Particularly when it’s an emotionally charged issue I pour out my emotions in the first draft.  Then I save the letter and go do something else.

After I’ve had time to clear my head, I edit the content to tone it down.  I continue “edit, go do something else” cycles until the picture in my mind of the person’s response is one that will resolve the problem.

At that point I typically go see the person or pick up the phone and call them.

I’m stewing about a situation now and just finished the second draft of the letter…. This one’s going to take a couple more rounds of introspection to acknowledge the part I played in causing the situation.  Clearly, I’m still a work in progress.

Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups.  Her next book, The Executive’s Toolbox, will be released soon.

Procrastination

During the Super Bowl, probably about halftime, I was on my way home after running some errands. I had the radio on and was listening to an interview with Tim Urban about procrastination.  Tim, a blogger whose blog, Wait but Why, explores procrastination.  He described his early theory that procrastinator’s brains were different than non-procrastinators.

He tested this theory by arranging MRIs of his brain and a friend’s, who he believed was not a procrastinator. He described the results in a hilarious TED Talk, illustrated with pictures that looked to have been drawn by a fourth grader.  Both brains have a Rational Decision Maker who is depicted with a steering wheel one would see on a ship; however, the procrastinator’s brain also has an Instant Gratification Monkey.  Every time a procrastinator starts to do something that’s necessary to keep his ship on course, the Instant Gratification Monkey takes over, grabs the steering wheel and replaces it with an activity that’s fun and completely non- productive.

When a deadline approaches, the third character living in the procrastinator’s brain, the Panic Monster, takes over and scares the Instant Gratification Monkey back up into his tree so the Rational Decision Maker can take over long enough for the activity to be completed, typically at an irrational pace.

He went to explain that after the TED talk he received thousands of EMAILs from people saying they had the same problem and how frustrated they were that they couldn’t control the Monkey.    EMAILS came from doctors, engineers, and lots of PhD students, people who’d had great accomplishments that made him realize there are two types of things we procrastinate about; those that have deadline and those that don’t’ but we’re all procrastinating about something. 

We all have a Rational Decision Maker, an Instant Gratification Monkey, and a Panic Monster in one form or another.  The problem is, unfortunately, activities that have no deadline don’t wake up our Panic Monster.  So, any career that involves some effort to get started doesn’t wake up the Panic Monster, because there is no deadline.   Activities such as taking care of your health, exercising, or tending to your relationships can go undone.

In other words, the activities that, when neglected, cause us no end of regrets, grief and unhappiness and can make us feels like spectators in our own lives.

He ended his TED talk with a graphic showing a life calendar comprised of a box for each week of a ninety-year old life.  He observed that we’ve all used up some of our boxes and maybe we each need to take a hard look at what we are procrastinating about.

I know I do.

Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups.  Her next book, The Executive’s Toolbox, will be released soon.