It is time to move on Robin – Make a name for yourself

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, CLDC

Batman and RobinGrowing up I was fascinated by Batman and Robin.   It is an American comic book icon.    I often looked forward to borrowing a copy from my classmate, as my family could not afford it.    The comic book brought hours of enjoyment.

As I reflect on Batman and Robin’s relationship, I noticed their chemistry.  They are compatible, as they know what each other does and understand their respective roles.   Together they are unstoppable.  Batman is the main character and Robin is what I call the supporting character.   Robin is a role player who plays his role really well.   Robin is comfortable being a sidekick and continues to do it for many years.   They complement each other and continue to fight against their villain.

At work, I also see people who pair up like Batman and Robin.   Batman usually gets the accolades for all the accomplishments of the group, while Robin is a willing participant.   Robin goes wherever Batman goes, from department to department at times.   So, what’s my point?  I’m of the opinion that it is okay to be Robin for a period of time in your career.  Because Batman is taking you under his wing to nurture, mentor, and help you grow and develop.    Those are priceless gifts that go a long way in establishing a successful career for you.

At some point in Robin’s career, Robin must think, what would it be like if I’m the star?   It would be nice if he saved the city and received the accolades and recognition.    Maybe Robin is comfortable being the sidekick and has no desire to do his own thing.   Robin might just be happy to say “Holy atomic pile, Batman!”.

The reality in life is Robin cannot stand behind Batman forever.  What if Batman retires?  Would Robin be forced to retire?  Robin needs to venture out and try his own thing.  Flex his muscles and demonstrate that he can accomplish things without Batman’s help.   It would be looked at as a confidence builder for him to realize his goals and do them on his own terms.    Over the last four years, I’ve seen people whom I deemed as Robin step outside their comfort zone and do their own thing.    Most of them were successful.  They pushed themselves and made a name for themselves.   It is not easy; if it were easy then everyone would be doing it.

I’ll end this post with these conversations between Robin and Batman,

Robin: “You can’t get away from Batman that easy!”
Batman: “Easily.”
Robin: “Easily.”
Batman: “Good grammar is essential, Robin.”
Robin: “Thank you.”
Batman: “You’re welcome.”

I say of course you can get away from Batman.  Does Robin have the initiative to take the first step?  Initiative is the most important thing.  Once the first step is over the rest will fall into place.

I’ll end this note with this exchange from Batman to Robin: “When you get a little older, you’ll see how easy it is to become lured by the female of the species.”    It is time to move on Robin.  Make a name for yourself.   For those folks whom you know that are Robin, engage them to take on the challenge and grow and develop.

Finding Happiness

Will Lukang, CSM, PMP, CLDC

Finding HappinessIn Merriam Webster happiness is defined as a state of wellbeing and contentment, or a pleasurable or satisfying experience.     When I think of happiness, this quote comes to mind,

Happiness is always a by-product.  It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular.  But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness. 

~Robertson Davies

 

When I think of happiness, it is relative to a person’s circumstances, time and state of mind.   It also varies from one person to another.   Some people find happiness through material things. Other finds happiness through helping others.  When I was growing up, I was happy when I spent time at my parents’ convenience store, because I got to interact with the folks who buy stuff from us and the workers at the market.  I also found happiness drawing and creating posters for use at school because it was a means for self-expression.

As you go through life, what makes you happy changes; it is indeed relative to a point in time or phase of your life.  I find that sometimes we kind of live our life backwards.  We work to earn more money and accumulate stuff to make us happy.  However, it is better to find your true calling and then express your passion to achieve your goal.   As I ponder this topic, I can’t help but think of what matters to us the most.   I viewed that health is important and being healthy should make us happy because it enables us to do what we want.

I view a happy person as someone who can enjoy a journey with unexpected stops, but enjoy the scenery as he/she passes through.   I’m often reminded that I need to put my expectations in perspective.  The last time I served at St. Martin’s soup kitchen it reminded me that other people are facing problems; that a gift of a meal brings joy to them.   It is a humbling experience that made me come back to keep me grounded.

As I reflect on this topic, I can’t help but think that there are people who find tremendous happiness in making others happy in spite of the grief that they themselves are going through.   They put others’ welfare ahead of theirs.  Mother Teresa is an inspiration for what she did.  She dedicated her life to help the poor people.  She founded the Missionaries of Charity with the objective of providing free service to the poorest of the poor.

These days, I’m happy when I spend time with my two daughters and wife.   I’m thankful for the opportunity to be part of their activities and lying down and sharing stories with my daughters.   I believe in doing random acts of kindness.   A simple thank you goes a long way to putting a smile on people’s faces.   Each day I count my blessings and avoid falling in the trap of complaining.   Because I always remind myself that other people are going through tougher challenges than I am.

I’d like to close this post with this:

The happy have whole days,
and those they choose.
The unhappy have but hours,
and those they lose.
~Colley Cibber

May you find happiness in the little things in life like taking a walk in the park.  May you seize the moment and make the most of your opportunity.  As my friend Judy says, “She believes that truly happy people are the ones who are thankful for what they have.”

Teachable Moments

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, CLDC

analazing market situationA teachable moment is defined as a time at which learning a particular topic or idea becomes possible or relevant.   What does that really mean?  It means that when something happens, it provides an opportunity to share an experience, knowledge or feedback that can help the person learn something valuable.  In most situations, that conversation ends up having a lasting effect on that person.

learn and lead

Applying the same concept at work, I called it instantaneous feedback.   For example, during a meeting, one of my directs said something that did not come across nicely.  The other party was not happy with the outcome of the meeting.  After the meeting, we returned to my office and I asked my direct what just transpired.   The person was not sure what went wrong.   I explained the situation and proceed to cite an example and gave suggestions on how we can best handle such a situation in the future.   It clarified the situation and the instantaneous feedback provided a learning opportunity.   The stickiness of the lesson has a lasting effect.

In December of last year, while coaching my daughter’s 4th grade girls basketball team against St. Anthony, we arrived at the gym surprised to see that the St. Anthony team’s players were taller than our players.  I was taken aback by what I saw, but kept my composure so as to not get my team worried.   By the time the game reached third quarter, we were ahead by 10 points.   I called a timeout and told my players that we are not going to score.  At first they were confused. I explained to them that we have a big lead and it is unsportsmanlike to try to score.  I proceeded to elaborate that we need to respect the other team; that if we were in the same situation we would not want the other team to embarrass us.    I looked at the opportunity as a teachable moment to impart a valuable lesson of sportsmanship.    Over the season, the team learned to stop scoring when we had a lead of more than 10 points.    I’m proud of my team for learning sportsmanship.   At the end of the day, the win does not mean much if they don’t learn something that they can take with them for the rest of their playing days.

As a leader in my organization, I feel that it is my job to watch out for the best interest of the people working for us.  That’s why I’m committed to coaching and mentoring.   I firmly believe that people are our most important asset.   We can have the best technology, but without the right people in the right place we cannot be successful.   A teachable moment is another vehicle to impart our knowledge and experience.    Sharing is the best way to improve our community and when our community increases its capability, the company and shareholders will benefit from it.   It will also increase our competitive advantage.

Mentor…mentor …everywhere

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, CLDC

MentoringIn 2000, I left my job at a big five accounting firm because I was frustrated that my career was going nowhere.   Because I was eager to move on, I took an opportunity to go back and work as a consultant.    Two years earlier, I had quit a consulting assignment to work full time to climb the proverbial corporate ladder.   You’ll ask, why go back when I want to move up the corporate ladder?   Back then I made a decision in haste, but looking back I was not sure why. Maybe it was my gut feeling that it was time to move on.

That move to work as a consultant ended up being the best move of my career.   Someone took me under his wing and invested the time to show me the ropes and the lay of the land of the company.  Back then I had no concept of mentoring, but I was truly thankful and felt blessed.   Being technically strong in getting my job, I lacked the skills needed to succeed in the long run.   I would not have worked for the manager if not for the dot-net boom that led to the departure of most of the members of the team.   When he was introduced to the team, he came across as down to earth and made a good impression to the remaining members of the team.

After the initial meeting, I did some research and found out that he’s well respected by a lot of people and known to be a great leader.   During our initial one-on-one, he told me that he wanted me to stay and work for him as he was trying to rebuild the team.   He asked me what I wanted to do and to get back to him.   Since I really wanted to be an employee, I told him on my next meeting that I wanted to have the chance to be the team leader.   He said that he was not sure about it, but was willing to give me a chance.   I was really thankful that he took the chance.  In the end, I spent the best 7 years of my career at that firm.

What’s my point for this post?

1)      Mentoring is a big part of our progress and success.

2)      By identifying our weaknesses and areas of improvement, we can seek mentors who are proficient in those fields.

3)      It is important to demonstrate to the mentor that you value them and make an effort to seek their advice.

4)      You can have more than one mentor, because each mentor provides certain expertise that can help you focus on your development needs.

5)      Be mindful of their time and make sure that you write down action items and provide status updates to your mentor. This way they know that you’re not wasting their time.

6)      Mentoring alone will not make you successful; you need to work hard and do your job.

7)      As you benefit from a mentor, pay it forward and mentor other people.

In closing, a mentor can help you learn more about yourself and develop the necessary skills that can help you in your career.  Do some researches before you seek someone to be your mentor; make sure that you’ll keep the commitment and pay it forward.    A mentoring relationship does not have to be formal.  An informal mentoring relationship is equally valuable, depending on your situation.

Go seek a mentor and mentor others to pay it forward.