I’ve struggled to put my 2015 Goals together; in fact my 2014 Goals were written down but only made it onto an ever-rewritten 3×5 notecard which I kept in my pocket. I was pretty satisfied with what I accomplished in 2014, but I missed some of the life goal building blocks toward the 10,000 hour expertise mark.
- Educate and Develop my children. I plan to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). We’ll start with a large dose of Legos.
- Enjoy 75 Books. I was able to completely enjoy 61 great books in 2014.
- Run 2 Ultra marathons and 2 marathons. I was able to accomplish 1 Ultra marathon and 3 marathons in 2014. I’d like to move from the 50K (approximately 31 miles) I accomplished this year to the 40 or 50 mile ultra marathon distance. This will be an extremely challenging stretch goal. Additionally, I’d like to accomplish 2 marathons along the way. A couple of the options are the Marine Corps Marathon (it would be my 4th year in a row) or the New York City Marathon (if I don’t do the MCM).
- Make a new Sous Vide Recipe Monthly. One of the gifts I received this holiday was an Anova Sous Vide Immersion Circulator. I’m looking forward to the numerous different things to prepare via this cooking method. Some of the different things I plan to try are available at Anova, Serious Eats, Polyscience, Williams-Sonoma, and Chef Steps.
- Family Trip. We enjoyed a couple of great trips in 2014; I escaped to bear hunt with my father and brother and enjoyed Florida with my family. I’d like to continue to ensure the family enjoys exploring the world of travel.
- Lead Effectively. I shall continue to effectively lead Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic (NCTAMS LANT) Detachment Hampton Roads which includes the Unified Atlantic Region Network Operations Center. At the same time, I plan to continue to develop as a leader within the Information Dominance Corps, Information Professionals, and overall as a Naval Officer.
- Teach Effectively. I’ve developed my expertise and truly enjoy developing expertise in others. I will put that into action by teaching at University of Maryland University College and Tidewater Community College.
- Be published two times.
- Invest 100 hours in learning new languages (Life goal – 10,000 hours). I will use Duolingo and start with Spanish.
- Invest 100 hours in coding (Life goal – 10,000 hours). I used and completed several courses in 2014 from Codeacademy. I’ll continue to use them and other MOOCs to enhances my abilities in 2015.
- Invest 100 hours in Robotics (Life goal – 10,000 hours). I will use Lego Mindstorms to continue to develop this knowledge while educating my children.
- Increase my income by 10%. Maintain/Increase performance in the Navy and teaching will be the methods to further this goal.
- Reduce debt. The only debt we hold as a family is our mortgage, one vehicle loan and significant student loans. I plan to eliminate the vehicle loan and focus on knocking out a large portion of the student loans.
- Live within Monthly Budget. We’ve lived within a budget for several years, but I’d like to continue to refine and maximize the available money toward meeting the financial goals. This will be reviewed quarterly to ensure we’re spending responsibly.
- Tailor/Verify/Diversify Investments. We will review our investments and plans with a financial advisor to continue to refine and maximize the family investment plan.
Inspired by Krystal Yee’s Givemebackmyfivebucks.
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I never published my 2014 Goals. They were written down but only made it onto an ever-rewritten 3×5 notecard which I kept in my pocket. I was pretty satisfied with what I accomplished in 2014, but I missed some of the life goal building blocks toward the 10,000 hour expertise mark.
The most challenging part of the year was taking command and leading an organization. There are challenges and complexities you don’t expect or even realize exist until you’re forced to face them head on.
- Enjoy 30 Books. ACCOMPLISHED. I was able to completely enjoy 61 great books in 2014. A number which greatly surprised me as I continued to rack them up.
- Run 4 marathons. ACCOMPLISHED. I was able to accomplish 1 Ultra marathon and 3 marathons in 2014. I ran the North Face Endurance Challenge 50K (approximately 31 miles), the USA Rock ‘n Roll Marathon, Freedom’s Run Marathon, and my third Marine Corps Marathon in a row! I was happy to have accomplished all of these in 2014! I’ve now run a total of 7 marathons including the Ultra marathon; every race I find an inspirational individual that inspires me even more!
- Family Trip. ACCOMPLISHED. We enjoyed a couple of great trips in 2014; I escaped to bear hunt with my father and brother and enjoyed Florida with my family.
- Lead Effectively. ON TRACK. In my first command, through most of the year, I led Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic (NCTAMS LANT) Detachment Hampton Roads which includes the Unified Atlantic Region Network Operations Center from the beginning of February 2014. Leading the Detachment has been challenging and a pleasure all at once; there isn’t a day that I don’t learn something from one of the fine individuals I work with. Additionally, I was empowered to invest some of my time in improving the Information Dominance Corps Mid-career Course and Information Professionals Basic Course requirements. Both will improve the quality and overall as a Naval Officer.
- Continue to Learn (Another language, coding, robotics). ACCOMPLISHED. I’d like to accumulate 10,000 hours of expertise in these areas and need to figure out how to most effectively accomplish the task. I toyed with a couple language applications but really enjoy what I’m seeing out of Duolingo. Regarding coding, I don’t do this daily at work so I used and completed several courses from Codeacademy in 2014 to maintain proficiency. And in robotics, I started playing with Lego Mindstorms with my children which I have enjoyed.
- Investigate methods to further increase income. ACCOMPLISHED. I determined that teaching is a passion of mine and something I’d like to become better at doing. I will start teaching in a couple of weeks.
- Reduce debt. ACCOMPLISHED. Even with the reduction funds (reduced BAH) and the increased costs of geobacheloring, we were able to continue to reduce the only debt we hold as a family (mortgage, one vehicle loan and student loans).
Inspired by Krystal Yee’s Givemebackmyfivebucks.
As I stepped out of my hotel room, my mind was on something else. The door closed and I found myself without my key. I looked to my left and, fortunately, the room attendant had just finished the neighboring room. Having seen me come to my keyless realization she let me back in. I recovered my key and thanked her. As I walked away she noticed my running attire and let me know it was raining outside. I had demonstrated a lack of readiness but this time I was prepared. I quickly retorted, “I know, it’ll be fun!”
When I reached the door to head outside, sure enough, it was down pouring. I started up my run tracking application and stepped outside in full stride. The drops were large and the puddles and resulting streams of water were everywhere. As I ran, several cars passed. Each had the opportunity to immediately drench me, but each one veered away to prevent doing so. As I passed a lone individual while crossing the bridge I noticed it was high tide. I continued running toward a nearby track.
The track is just under a mile away from my hotel; perfect to supplement my planned running distance. I stepped on the track and stuck to the outside to maximize my distance of each lap. As I entered the first turn I nearly stepped on a freshly opened clam shell. Having been on the track the day before, I didn’t recall any shells. As I looked up, the source of the shell became apparent.
There, at the end of the field, were nine seagulls nuzzled into themselves enduring the rain. A simple seafarers deduction is that the gulls, sometime in the last six hours during low tide, enjoyed their version of a clam feed. Having captured the clams and dropped them on the track, the gulls forced their opening, gaining access to the deliciousness within. Sure enough, as I rounded the corner of the track, more and more shells and fragments appeared. After a couple laps, each time observing the distribution of pieces, I turned off the track to head back to the hotel.
With less than a mile to go, I set my finishing pace. The rain continued but until I felt the water pouring into my left shoe, had I realized the puddles and streams had become much larger. Before I could adjust to this realization, my right foot found its way into a strong flow of water, which immediately flooded my right shoe.
Continuing, I turned and stepped back onto the bridge. As I surveyed the remaining distance I noted a pair of runners and another individual trailing them. As I moved to the right to make room for the paired runners, they hadn’t noticed me. At ten feet apart the closest runner to me finally looked up and adjusted to a position behind the other to allow all of us to pass safely. Halfway down the bridge a local shuttle passed, its driver waved and I returned the gesture with a smile and wave.
Most people would take all of these interactions at face value. I’d like to share what I took away having just focused on leadership for the past two weeks.
As the leader of your organization, the rain signifies what holds you back from knowing your organization and, most importantly, its people. It might be remaining in your office behind your desk on a challenging day. It may come in the form of an overwhelming amount of email, a chocked schedule, or insurmountable pile of paperwork. The most subversive adversary is that very comfortable chair and your apparent ability to exercise leadershp and command through digital means. For this reason, to improve my perspective and ability, I have stepped outside to run, consecutively for more than the last month. I’ve run through all weather and illness, to know what is going on. The first stride is the hardest, but it is always the most rewarding.
The several drivers who passed me signify and demonstrated compassion. Without action on their part, they would have driven straight through the large streams of water, drenching me, without regard or concern. This action, early in my run, had a positive influence on my outlook. Their action kept me dry and allowed me to continue achieving my goal.
The clam shells signify the operations of your organization. Your people carry out amazing tasks all day everyday; just because you don’t see them performing the tasks does not mean they are not occurring. It is you duty to learn from your people, understand what they do and are capable of accomplishing, and balance the strengths and weaknesses of the organization in order to meet its mission and accomplish its vision. If you don’t invest time to understand the operations of your organization, the decisions you make will be influenced by this lack of understanding, and it will erode the confidence and trust your people have in you.
The seagulls signify the people within your organization. Do you know they exist? How are they doing? What about their family? Are they cold and stuck out in the rain? Are they fed and cared for? Do you understand what they are going through? Knowing your people is no easy task. Each individual is different and has distinct metrics toward trust. Once you have earned their trust you will be able to find their goals and intentions for their future. This will enable you to integrate their goals and their wellbeing into the vision and daily operations of the organization. This will maximize the effectiveness of both your people and organization.
My soaked shoes; the first one demonstrates a mistake, the second a failure. Leading takes effort every step of the way. It allows for the missteps of humans but not the failure of the leader or the leadership. When my first shoe flooded with water I had not recognized the change in the operating conditions. I had been late acknowledging the transition. This, dear leader, is where you must invest time and energy. The ability to recognize transition, understand it, and maximize effectiveness through it is the key to great leadership. I had missed the beginning of a transition, and as a consequence, my left foot was cold and wet. What I did next set the path for failure.
I told myself it wasn’t a big deal; I only had three quarters of a mile remaining to run. After all, I had run this route daily for the past two weeks, I was comfortable and confident I could reach the end with one wet foot. By not immediately focusing on preventing this from happening again, I allowed it to recur.
As the toes of my right foot, one by one, felt the water rush in a feeling of cold rushed over my body. My failure was now affecting more than just my feet. My hands grew colder responding to my other extremities condition. My mood soured after each squishy water soaked step. As leaders, each decision will have an effect on your organization. You will not understand every ramification, it second and third order effects, on your organization. You will also not be able to make every decision, nor should you. There will be plenty of opportunities to review others’ decisions, I assure you.
The runner adjusting just in time demonstrates the perspective of each individual. The oncoming runner wasn’t physically concerned about anything further than ten feet in front of them. Balanced difference is exactly how you want the perspective throughout your organization. Each individual uses their particular perspective to focus on their part of the mission; their part of the critical path. Too much of either “near” or “far” perspective will unbalance the organization leading to oversights or micromanagement.
Lastly, the shuttle driver indicates the importance of positive interactions. Even on a cold, pouring down rain, two soaked feet type day, a wave and a smile will let those around you know you are having fun!
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