The weather in Oklahoma has been record-setting. So too is the amount of time most of us have spent in our home offices, at our dining room tables, or on our couches attempting to do work equal to what we would do if we could get out on the roads and take it to our businesses. I don’t know about you, but my family and I have learned quite a bit during this go around with brutally cold temperatures. Here is a quick list:
- Drip faucets if it’s a little cold and stream faucets if it is brutal cold.
- Don’t take natural gas and electricity supplies for granted—keep electronics charged and have a backup plan. We have experienced rolling blackouts, and many of our friends and neighbors in Texas are experiencing worse conditions.
- When shoveling snow in harsh conditions, it’s fair to work in short increments. The goal is to get the job completed, not get the job completed in record time or all at once.
- Do not let the beauty of the situation lure you into taking unnecessary risks.
- Where are the snow shovels, gloves, scarfs, and stocking caps?
- Have an appropriate stock of supplies, including food, water, and other necessary items.
This list is not exhaustive but somewhat representative of what we did to prepare.
In my time away from the office, I have spent a considerable amount of time checking and double-checking items on this list, and I did get our driveway passable when we are once again safe to get out and drive. I have also spent a considerable amount of time thinking about each of you, my teammates, and the work we do in a never-ending attempt to get better.
What preparations are we taking for ourselves and our jobs, our careers?
Here I’ve rewritten the list:
- Drip faucets if it’s a little cold and stream faucets if it is brutal cold.This is so true of the data, information, and knowledge that you hold. When things are going awry, start amplifying the information you share, and when situations you are in are getting worse, increase the information flow. When we stop sharing information, the pipelines freeze with a compounding effect—eventually, the situation might just burst, creating immeasurable damage. Communicate.
- Don’t take natural gas and electricity supplies for granted—keep electronics charged and have a backup plan. We have experienced rolling blackouts, and many of our friends and neighbors in Texas are experiencing worse conditions.At some point, it is likely that those you work for will make a mistake, will inadvertently miss a deadline, or break a promise. In fact, there is a chance they will be the cause of lacking information or misinformation. After all, we are all human. This situation requires you to have a plan, to have a way around. We call this managing up the chain. Where else can you get the information you need? Who else can fill in? Who can I temporarily depend on for assistance until the issues are identified and rectified? Note here that once our power came back on, we went right back to using the energy from the power company? We didn’t like the blackouts, but we know that ultimately, they are doing their best.
- When shoveling snow in harsh conditions, it’s fair to work in short increments. The goal is to get the job completed, not get the job completed in record time or all at once.I got our driveway cleared in 15-minute increments – but it took me all afternoon. Why 15 minute increments? My wife was concerned about my health. A clear driveway was not worth a heart attack or a slip on the ice and a broken wrist. The goal was clear—the method and timing not so much. Little increments worked. When tasked with a monumental project or a project requiring immense attention to detail, I believe we are better suited to work on it for a predetermined amount of time, then take a break —refocus on a different project and then return. The short break allows us to re-approach the enormous task with renewed focus and a slightly different view without breaking you or overwhelming you. Segmenting work is a great way to look at jobs that cause you anxiety, too. The goal is to complete the work correctly without harm to you or anyone else (physically or mentally).
- Do not let the beauty of the situation lure you into taking unwanted and unnecessary risks.This topic is an interesting one for me. I believe in risk-taking. I even believe in unnecessary risk-taking if there are safety measures and a method of reversing the risk. When I was promoted in a previous job and moved my family to Oregon, I took an unnecessary risk. I could have stayed in Kansas City and been fine. I also would have been able to return to a previous job had the worst case arisen. The risk paid off. It was a case for me of a beautiful situation luring me into a “wanted” unnecessary risk. What I am cautioning against is looking at the frozen lake and going ice skating. It’s potentially deadly. So, look all you want, but honestly, look at your ability to survive (mentally or physically) if the worst happens. Do not trip into an “unwanted” and unnecessary risk, no matter how attractive it may seem.
- Where are the snow shovels, gloves, scarfs, and stocking caps?Isn’t it a peaceful thought knowing right where to go for these items when you need them? Let’s talk about the importance of filing, email organization, or putting tools back where they belong and caring for the things we don’t need at the moment but may need in the future. How about taking the time to know where our essential items are stored, such as our personal payroll information, benefit cards for insurance, or where to find vital contact information in an emergency. When you’re in the middle of the snowstorm, you want to know right where the supplies are. Take the time, find the information, store it correctly, and understand how to access it in the future when the need arises.
- Have an appropriate stock of supplies, including food, water, and other necessary items.What have you done to stock up on items such as knowledge, personal growth, self-help, or personal health? You don’t like to read? That’s fine; try an audible book related to career growth or a business skill you’re interested in. Do you want to become a manager? Do research, read, study, prepare yourself as best as you can, and, when you hit a roadblock, ask experts around you where to get the knowledge you are seeking. How much time are you spending developing yourself, stocking up on the knowledge you can use to help in unforeseen circumstances? Plenty of managers’ and leaders’ careers have been launched by being the person with the ability to fix an issue or with the knowledge to identify a better business practice. Prepare now—your opportunity to make a significant difference may be just around the corner.There’s my list. I encourage you to take inventory of yourself, identify your personal goals, then make a plan. Do not wait for the moment and then sit back unprepared. I’m here as a resource to help you make a personal plan for development. Stay safe! Dr. Scott McCalla, Chief Strategy Officer, International Pipe & Supply