Monday, August 12, 2013

Connecting the Dots & Nourishing Souls--writ large

Yesterday while I was out for my "second" run of the morning, I had the good fortune of meeting up with a colleague of many years whom I don't often get to see these days.  I put my "second" run in quotes as I began the day with a slow jog with my eight year old--3 miles.  I then went back out for a much faster four mile run of my own before getting on with other activities.  On the second run as I was running up Charles St, north of Northern Parkway, I saw someone whom I did not immediately recognize turn from a side street onto Charles.  As I caught up and passed, I gave a clear "good morning" to the other runner, as I would to almost any runner I was passing at a fairly faster speed.  The other runner gave a brief response, but then made an additional comment calling me by name.  I turned back to find a colleague from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where I'd spent 16+ years before moving to the Carey Business School within Johns Hopkins. I'd known this particular colleague first as a student and then as a colleague for almost the entire time.  Her kids' ages are between my first two and my second and third.  We chatted for a bit.

I found myself once again talking about how much I enjoy the new challenges of my position at present compared with what I had been doing.  Some in academia find it difficult to fathom since many in academia are not interested in high level administrative positions and are not necessarily good "people people".  Perhaps I am.  Perhaps I am not.

Regardless, something occurred to me later in the day, long after my colleague and I had parted ways after about seven minutes of an overlapping route.  The very title of this blog is about connecting dots and nourishing the soul.  When I came up with the title, I was really focused on the dots as abstract things in my own life and my own soul.  However, the management style that is encouraged at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School includes thinking about team members strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations as individuals.  The strengths and weaknesses can then be extended to the team as a whole.  The team is "connecting the dots" in which the dots are individuals who make up the teams as we try to construct the best teams for getting the jobs that are important done.  While not everyone on the team may even believe in souls, the fact that we are seeking to find ways to help individuals reach aspirations and grow personally and professionally is key.  This demonstrates a key overlap between what I think of for myself and what I now am called upon to think of for others as I grow in my own leadership.  It is another wonderful case of how I am able to fit everything in my life together in a way that makes sense.

Is everyone lucky enough to be able to make sense of their lives?  No.

Does everyone seek to make sense of their lives in the same way?  I doubt it.

But it works for me and it helps me to see my life as one big adventure that fits together in the workplace and outside in ways that complement each other.

Moving ahead, one of the biggest challenges will be to assure that the inside the workplace part of my life and outside the workplace part of my life not only fit together conceptually but also fit together in terms of getting things done and focusing on both parts.  If I work too hard and don't focus on life outside that will bring issues outside the workplace that I do not want to face.  If I focus too much on things outside the workplace and do not get done important tasks inside, that will bring its own set of challenges.

Balance is as important as parallel alignment.  That is a real challenge.   

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