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Standing At The Gates Of Janus

I really try not to do this…yet, it’s inevitable, isn’t it? I try to convince myself that the calendar is just an artificial construct and that I can do this exercise at any point in time. I don’t need the little clock sitting at the bottom left on my computer’s taskbar to read 12/31 in order to prod me toward a heightened state of reflection. I don’t want to feel a slave to the chaps who conjured up our Gregorian calendar. But then…who am I kidding? This time of year just cries out for a rearview/frontview perspective. So here I pay my debt to Janus and seek his help to bring the current state of Bailey WorkPlay into focus.

Defining Influences of 2007
Losing two grandfathers. While intensely personal, both losses have impacted my professional focus in different ways. Papop Starr’s life was one of art, charity, love, family…I could really go on. He will live forever through his legacy and its an inspiration that I hold dear. Grandpa Bailey’s life was one of hard work, education, faith, family…again I could go on. His gift to me is a reminder that this life is a gift and the time we have here on this earth is precious. It’s not to be forsaken or taken for granted. In their death, I find my love for life.

Working life in the corporate world. Yep, it’s still quite an influence. This was my first full year playing in the laboratory of the corporate world. It’s different from the nonprofit world and yet not that different at all. The same organizational, communication, leadership, and management challenges exist regardless of the tax status. This year provided all the proof I need that there’s a place for my work with Bailey WorkPlay. Look for more details on new services in the coming weeks.

Helping my wife through a career crisis. Watching someone you dearly love go through a career crisis truly defines your own sense of what work can be (and what it should never be). There’s nothing quite so miserable as feeling trapped in a hopeless spot that just isn’t going to get better no matter how hard you try. Her experience is a cautionary tale about the need to follow your intuition and truly listen to your inner voice. It also clarified my passion for helping folks create work they love and helping organizations build strong cultures that emphasize humanity while still making a profit.

Deciding to crank things up professionally. Each of these items (and a smattering of other minor influences) have provided me with the appropriate degree of fuel needed to move from the sidelines back into the big game. I’ve been gunshy about putting myself out there. I keep asking what if I fall on my ass? But you know what…that’s just crap that I tell myself to keep me safe. Yeah, safe and unfulfilled. Now it’s time to risk again, fall on my ass if necessary, but pick myself up and dust myself off. Simple, but not easy. But then again, what’s really worth doing that’s easy? The growth is in the challenges.

Aspirations for 2008
Cranking things up means envisioning some really bold aspirations for this new year. And by putting them out here in the open for all to see, I’m making a commitment to each of them.

I will be putting greater distinctions on Bailey WorkPlay and The Alchemy of Soulful Work. Up to now it’s been somewhat confusing. Is Bailey WorkPlay the name of the blog? What exactly is The Alchemy of Soulful Work, then? It’s okay…I’ve been confused, too. Early in 2008, you’ll start to see a better delineation between the two concepts. Bailey WorkPlay is the name of my service organization focused on coaching, consulting, and facilitation. I’ll be working with individuals who are unfulfilled with their J-O-B and want to align their purpose with their work. I’ll also be working with organizations – primarily nonprofits and small businesses – who are tired of struggling with stagnant work cultures and want to improve their people systems. The Alchemy of Soulful Work is the title of my blog and online laboratory for ideas, reflections, and practical advice.

I will accelerate the growth of the Alchemy of Soulful Work. I will take my current subscriber base (somewhere around 100 folks) and increase it to 1000 subscribers by the end of 2008. And because I believe that comments are absolutely important to creating a healthy blog community, the Alchemy of Soulful Work will have 1000 comments by the end of the year, too. As soon as I find some good widgets to track these metrics, I’ll insert them on this site so everyone can track progress and participate in the success.

Oh, and by the way…I finally registered www.alchemyofsoulfulwork.com. So, there are two ways to get to Bailey WorkPlay and Alchemy of Soulful Work.

I will be far more visible. When I think about visibility, I think about activities in addition to blogging and my online site. So, what better way to get visible than to speak and write? This year, I will secure at least two speaking gigs and publish an article for a print magazine or newspaper. I will also continue to contribute to Career Hub and guest blog at other spots.

I will step further outside my front door. I plan to travel more outside the city limits of Austin, TX. It’s been easy to keep close to home but now it’s time to venture beyond my borders again. I have several reasons to visit areas in the US Northeast, Washington DC, Chicago IL, Atlanta GA, and Southern California. Hopefully, this will give me a chance to meet more of you for the first time or have a chance to see you again. While there’s much that can be shared through email, phone, and blogging, there’s even more that can be gained by sitting with a cup of coffee and chatting.

I will rededicate myself to reading. I read surprisingly few books in 2007 and I think this was one reason why my blogging was a little less dynamic this past year (or at least it’s what my vocal internal critic points out to me). I aim to read at least 15 books this year, which for a slow reader like me is quite a bit. I’ll continue to keep up with my blogreading through Google Reader and maintain my subscription to Harvard Business Review.

Whew! Looks like I’m going to have a busy, productive, and fulfilling 2008. What about you? Even if you don’t get wrapped up in the whole New Year’s resolution game, I hope you take a few moments to reflect on what this past year has meant to you. What events influenced who you are right now? And what do you aspire to be in this next year?

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