Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Great Relationship Makes a Great Team

At the Leadership for Tomorrow Conference, sponsored by Ohio State Cooperative Extension, the Honorable Joyce Beatty, an accomplished, confident, energetic, vibrant Ohio leader, told us about her personal philosophy of leadership. In her story, she often referred to her husband as a good husband—emphasizing good.  And then, she let us know how he is a really great husband.

She told us about how in her 40s she suffered a stroke, paralyzing her body and preventing her from speaking. While in the hospital after the stroke, the doctors came in talk to her husband. She laughs about how they closed the curtain, for privacy, but she could hear every word. The doctor explained to her busy, successful husband (her good husband) that Joyce may not walk again, will have several disabilities and will need constant care. They suggested that he put her in a nursing home. Though Joyce could not move nor could she speak, she could hear every word. After her husband listened, he told the doctor “No, I will take her home.”

She exclaims: “My husband is not a good husband, but a great husband.” Through much physical therapy and treatment, her own determination, support from her husband, Joyce now walks, talks (and she can talk!), keeps audiences entertained, inspires others, and provides strong leadership to the state of Ohio.

Since the conference, I have listened and observed instances where I can identify great relationships. A new colleague (and friend) and I were commenting on how tired we were at a conference and how we both wanted to get home. In doing so, he said simply but with deep compassion in his voice, “I miss my wife”. It was clear he and his wife have a great relationship and they yearn for each other, even after more than 25 years of marriage.

A great relationship develops into a great team. In the picture (taken 2008), Johnny had been fighting a brain tumor for a few years. The shirt perfectly demonstrated them as a couple. He probably would say today, that it is definitely depicts his wife’s attitude as he struggled through his illness. There on the beach, Tracy was supporting him as he could not lift his left leg through the sand.

“A good team becomes a great team when members surrender “me” for “we”.

Great Team

In Johnny’s final days with his family, I commented to his her. “You are doing so well, handling all that needs to be done, caring for him, staying calm, and being a rock for your family.” Not surprising, her response was: “You do what you have to do”.

Those who are great partners don’t consider how great they are, they think their steadfast dedication is normal. However, that constant, hardworking, deep-seeded dedication is rare. Great relationships are rare. Great relationships happen because the individuals go beyond what is expected and a constantly selflessly thinking of the other—without keeping score.

As the tumor took its toil through the years, Johnny adjusted. His role changed, and he fully used his talents to best of his abilities. No longer able to work, he coached his kids in recreation and travel ball, and served as an assistant coach for the local junior high girls basketball team for four years. He also challenged the local community to serve all kids, particularly kids of limited income, through recreation activities and facilities.

To Johnny, may you rest in peace knowing that you impacted many through your life, your passions, your hardheadedness, and your actions which always matched your principles and values.

To Tracy, thanks for giving us a a model in how to handle the toughest of situations with dedication, grace, balance, and unwavering love and commitment.

The photo can be found Tags: ,

Sunday, August 1, 2010

When do you find the time?

In every session I conduct about social media, I am asked the question: How do you find the time (to be online, chat, tweet, update statuses, use geo-location, etc.)?

When most Americans watch TV

While most settle in at night to watch network news, reality shows, and weekly series, I get online. Sometimes this online activity is serious study—learning, listening, investigating, engaging in online discussions or contributing to wiki or other collaborating works. At other times, I am more relaxed. I browse the news of the day that I may have missed or read something that hits my personal interests. In most cases, the TV is on while the family watches, and my daughter is in the same room online too.

For me, watching network news and television shows flow too slowly. Commercials every few minutes are very distracting. I want information and news without forced interruption. On a side note, I also find that most of the time, the inflection of news broadcasters and background mislead the importance of a point or lean one to feel an emotion that is not based on fact.

I would rather spend my time consuming information at my own pace and be able to select what I consume. I would rather fill this time, making a contribution, finding out how friends and family are doing, and having interactive fun—not waiting for TV media to pour to me. 

According to Clay Shirky in Cognitive Surplus (see this post for video and transcript), Americans watch 200 billion hours of television every year. Trillions of hours of TV are viewed worldwide each year. What if 1% (or 5%) of this time is spent contributing online content, public bookmarking what you are reading, and another 1% (or 5%) of this time is spent connecting or socializing with others? What if the time spent watching advertisements was used in producing or contributing to online projects? Some groups of teenagers are adapting in this way. These teenagers are spending less time watching TV than their parents. These teenagers are creating storylines, music, or artistic works, learning to work others, building leaderships skills, and having fun.

When I have dead time

When waiting in line at Walmart, or in the car (parked) waiting on the kids, I quickly check Tweetdeck to find out what is being said on Twitter from those I follow and in the categories I have set for searches. If possible and if my response would be meaningful, I will work in this dead time a response. I may also browse Google Buzz comments.

Of course, during these dead times, I also check email and read my favorite friends in Facebook that have been fed to my Facebook application.

During the day, I periodically check the continuous stream from Tweetdeck

Though some find a continuous pop-up Twitter stream distracting, I have learned that I can ignore the tweets during my busy times and choose to read a few when I feel like it.  At my desk, I glance at the automatic feeds or wait until I have more time, I scan my Tweetdeck columns.

I seldom go to the page.

When certain groups have Twitter chats (they make use of hashtags), I may keep up peripherally if I don’t have time or I may wait until later and check the stream.

I don’t read everything every day

I follow roughly 2,000 people. I also track different terms using the search feature in Tweetdeck. For instance, I have searched columns for “military families”, “#milfam”,  “ag”, “#agchat”, and “#coopext”. I periodically add search columns for topics that are more relevant for a short period. Additionally, I have columns for retweets and direct messages. Because I can’t see every tweet, I prioritize the accounts I follow. On days that I don’t have much time, I look at the columns that I feel are the most important.

So you may ask “When am I not online?”

I can be online in some form about anytime I want to be. It is also up to me to decide when I get offline as it is up to families to decide when the TV is on or off. There are times that simply having face to face conversations mean being attentive with the most important people in my life and work. Also, it is up to me to find time to move, exercise, jog, walk, read, write, pray, and think alone. However, these times do not always come in the after 5 and on weekends. I choose when I am offline and online—making sure I get my job done well and serve my family well.

Balancing my time is not easy, never has been. And, I am certainly not always successful, but it is my responsibility to find the balance. There is no reason to sit in the recliner every night and be purely a consumer of information and entertainment.

Relaxing online

Sometimes, when I am online, it is for entertainment or purely social reasons, playing scrabble online, chatting with friends in Facebook or watching or reading something that is for my enjoyment and has nothing to do with work.

Understanding filters and priorities

Filtering and prioritizing are ways of managing the flow of tweets, Facebook statuses and comments, Google Buzz, and Google Wave. Though I have talked about Twitter, it is only one of many tools.

Twitter gives me the greatest diversity of information. Most of the time tweets only hit the surface, but will lead me to find greater depth on a topic, current issue or debate.

Prioritizing which conversations warrant my attention helps me stay focused on busy days.

Importance of mobile devices and computing

I certainly could not keep up without a good smartphone and understand how to integrate different social media tools and applications.

Why do I do it?

As an educator, part of my responsibilities are to keep up with new information and research and to continuously learn. Also my responsibilities include developing relationships that in turn create trust and credibility. Being part of communities that create content and develop ideas is another way of being an effective educator. I can’t be effective if I don’t participate online. Thus, finding ways to consume information, process it, and collaborate with others is a must.