Well, as I’ve written about before, last year, just before the pandemic really broke out here locally, I moved to the other side of this small town. And, as I began to get out a bit last summer, I realized that there was a very nice community garden right by a park that I frequented for walks, and at that time, runs.
Though there are many community gardens in Corvallis, I was unsure about securing one for this season. And? I did! I am quite excited.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve belonged to a community garden. The Willamette Park Community Garden has only been in existence for about 5 years. The people that run the garden are super cool, and the spot I got is also super cool.
Here is a pic of the garden plot after Justin and I did some work this past Saturday.
As you can see there are three phases to the plot. The first phase is closest to us in the picture, and is the area that Justin and I worked Saturday. The second phase, which I’ll begin on in about 2 weeks, is covered with cardboard and mulch, and the third phase is just to the right of that, covered for now with only cardboard.
I will likely begin putting seeds and starts in the ground in the first phase this weekend. What veggies, you ask? Good questions. Here is an example of a planting schedule for this area.
It’s always interesting to visualize what the garden might look like in three months. I definitely have a vision of it with walkways and veggie sections coordinated by their growing season. Fun.
Here is a garden plot template, which is kind of fun.
There are many vegetables and spices I enjoy that are not on this template, yet it does give you an idea of how you can organize a garden space.
Alright, that was my one thing last Saturday. Getting my garden plot ready to plant.
I already have an idea for another installment of My One Thing. Remember the guitar I bought? Well, I can now play 6 or 7 chords, and can also play the intro to one of my new favorite songs. Yes, super fun!
Current Reality, Future Reality, and Gaining Traction
Alright, it’s been a while since I’ve created a My One Thing post. As I considered this this past week, it occurred to me to write a post about creating a Vision Traction Organizer (VTO). The VTO is taken from the book Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business, by Gino Wickman.
I’ve written about the book Traction before, and highly recommend it for anyone working in the business world, both private and public, no matter the size of your business. It is a very practical and implemtable book.
Alright, so here is what the VTO for the Extended Learning Department at Linn-Benton Community College looked like in year 2.
As you can see, it begins on the left side with the department values and vision and then works all the way to the right displaying the department goals, and issues the department is facing. Hence, traction. Why?
Well, as I’ve written about before, the only way to make a vision a reality, personal or professional, is to actually tie that vision to day-to-day life in the form of smaller goals. When you have your day-to-day activities tied to the vision of who you want to be, or where you want your organization or business to be in, say, 3 years, you will develop traction.
Meaning, you will move toward and likely manifest that reality for yourself, or your team.
Now, since the department’s second year together, well, we’ve had some, let’s say, unexpected things occur, such as the pandemic. Yep, so now that we’ve been living inside of this pandemic for a full year, it was time to start to sketch out the next 3 years.
Here is what it looks like on my white board wall.
If you compare the two, you will see that the revenue goals are much lower than they were expected to be when the original VTO was created in our second year together. That, however, is the reality. And, as I’ve written about before, being clear on the current reality is necessary and needed in leadership.
We may not want to look at the current reality, we may want to instead run and hide from it, yet, it will only follow us if we do. And, in refusing to acknowledge the current reality, just as it is, the people that work in your organization or business, will be confused. Confused because they are not getting honest communication from leadership. Not helpful.
Further, when we don’t stand in and accept our current reality, we cannot create new realities. The only way to create a vision for the future, is to accept reality as it is. Just as it is now. Then work from there. Simple. Yet, this can be hard for people in new leadership roles. Trust me, I know how that feels.
However, you will find that your team, organization, or business, will be grateful when leadership stands in and actively communicates the current reality. For it gives everyone a real starting point.
Alright, that’s My One Thing for this week. The next step will be to take the “whiteboard wall VTO” and put it into a graphics design software package. Once I’ve done that, I will create another post and walk you through some of my thinking about Extended Learning’s next three years. That will be fun.
Trail winds to the right, Closed at first, and then open. Beautiful.
A lovely hike today at the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge just outside of Corvallis, OR. Such a lovely day. I added a few more of the pictures I took below. And, well, that was my one thing this afternoon.
Of course, both objectives and priorities, must be connected to your goals, and vision, so we’ll also take a look at how to connect them all.
Ready? Good. Here we go.
First, let’s use a goal that is actually part of my work today. A very practical example. Here we go.
Increase connection, collaboration, and unification of noncredit organizations throughout the state of Oregon within the next 2 years.
Alright, we’ve got a goal set. Now, let’s discuss objectives.
Where goals can be set for long-term planning, and short-term planning, in the context of this conversation we are using a long-term goal.
Our focus then is to go from our long-term goal to day-to-day activities that will connect back to our long-term goal. Creating objectives can help us do that by breaking our goal up into smaller pieces, which we can achieve in a shorter period of time.
Let’s take a look at an objective for our goal.
Create a noncredit consortium, which includes representatives from each organization that delivers noncredit education throughout the state of Oregon in the next year.
There we go.
Because our goal is to increase connection, collaboration, and unification of noncredit organizations throughout the state of Oregon within the next 2 years, we need an objective that will, well, basically, help us get there.
In this example, creating a consortium within the next year can do just that.
Alright, now we’ve got a 2-year goal, a 1-year objective, now we need some priorities.
Priorities are typically set for a shorter duration of time. They can be set for a day, week, month, and even a quarter. Alright, let’s create some priorities for our objective.
Priority #1 – Create bylaws for the non credit consortium in quarter 3
Priority #2 – Create a leadership structure for the noncredit consortium in quarter 4.
It is possible in this example, that both of these priorities can be achieved within quarter 3, however, to illustrate the example, I’ve chosen to spread them out.
The important point is that we now have a goal, objective, and priorities that are all connected. And, they all have timeframes allocated to them, so we know if we are on or off track. Important.
Once priorities are created, it is time to create next actions.
Creating Next Actions
Creating next actions, or action items, or next steps, is really about identifying the work that needs to be accomplished to meet your priorities, which then means, yep, that you are meeting your objective, and moving closer to attaining your goal.
Let’s create some next actions.
Identify bylaws needed and begin to create them in the January meeting.
Identify 2 or 3 committee members that will continue to work on the bylaws in between the January and February meeting.
Create agreement and alignment on the bylaw next actions, which are due by the February meeting.
There we go.
Now, you’ll notice that I did not create the next actions for priority number 2. The reason this is so, is that that priority is for quarter 4, and, as we complete the next actions to meet the number 1 priority, we will learn more.
Meaning, that the second priority might shift a little by the time we get to the end of quarter 3. Normal.
Recapping, we now have a 2-year goal, 1-year objective, a priority for quarter 3 with next actions, and a priority for quarter 4 with next actions still to be identified.
Before we get to the system part of our conversation, which, of course, is one of my favorite topics, let’s discuss results and metrics a little.
Results and Metrics
It’s important in all goal-setting activities, personal and professional, to identify a way to measure progress. The measurement can be quantitative or qualitative. Both are needed and necessary.
In our conversational example about the noncredit consortium, we can create a couple of ways to measure our progress. First let’s reset the goal. Here it is.
Goal – Increase connection, collaboration, and unification of noncredit organizations throughout the state of Oregon within the next 2 years.
Now, let’s set a result and a metric.
Result – Increased service to all communities as an outcome of increased collaboration between the noncredit organizations.
Metic – Total service numbers by organization.
We can even take a deeper dive with this result, by creating actually percent increases we expect, such as:
Result – Service numbers increase by 10% in year 2.
Metric – Total service numbers by organization.
Once you have your results and metrics, we need to think about how to gather the data to measure the metric. In this example, we would utilize the systems the various organizations use to gather their student service data.
Alright, we’ve now covered goals, objectives, priorities, next actions, and results and metrics. Let’s now take a look at how these components work together to create a single system.
A Single System
As you all know, I love white boards. And, yes, I’ve created two simple white boards to help us visualize the linear information provided in this post. Here we go.
In this first white board we can see I’ve used a relationship ecological system to display the connection between the self, team, organization, and community, and a vision, goals, objectives, priorities, and next actions.
They function the same way.
As we develop as a leader, we take in information from the team, organization, and community, and we give information back out the same way. It’s completely reciprocal and, well, quite lovely.
Similarly, when we create a vision, and set goals, objectives, priorities, and next actions, they inform each other. For instance, the vision informs the goals, objectives, priorities, and next actions. Just as our next actions will inform our upcoming priorities, objectives, goals, and the vision, as needed.
Okay, one more visual. Here we go.
In this simple illustration, we can see a similar pattern. The vision is the anchor, as the self is in a relationship system, and informs our goals, objectives, priorities, and next actions, which, in turn, informs our upcoming goals.
Wow, that was fun.
That concludes the second and last installment in My One Thing: Creating Alignment In Our Lives.
You can use these tools in your personal life, just as you can at work. The most important thing is to create a vision for your future self; and; to work towards the realization of that self by taking actions each day that align with the self you see yourself becoming.
Remember, you are the only one that can make that future self a reality.
Alright, so I recently took up writing haikus, as many of you know, and am having a fantastic time. I’ve posted one thus far, and have three others scheduled, and then this weeked?
Well, along with the other writing I’ll do, I plan to spend time reflecting upon new ideas for a few more haikus.
What am I learning? Good question. A lot actually. Let’s take a look.
A haiku is a poem, which was created in Japan in the 9th century, that contains a 5-7-5 syllable sound pattern, which is elegant, beautiful, and challenging to craft. There are a few distinctions between traditional haikus, and more contemporary haikus.
For instance, in traditional haikus, there are some very explicit rules. Here is an example, taken from Your Dictionary.
There are only three lines, totaling 17 syllables.
The first line is 5 syllables.
The second line is 7 syllables.
The third line is 5 syllables like the first.
Punctuation and capitalization are up to the poet, and need not follow the rigid rules used in structuring sentences.
A haiku does not have to rhyme, in fact usually it does not rhyme at all.
As you conduct more research, however, you find that contemporary haikus are less strict, and can take on numerous forms, as you can see from the above example. It’s super interesting, and a lovely learning experience.
There is also a poem called the tanka, created in Japan in the 7th century. Unlike the haiku, which is 17 syllables, the tanka is a 31 syllable poem, typically in the syllable sound pattern, 5-7-5-7-7.
Here is an example of a tanka poem.
八雲立つ 出雲八重垣 妻籠みに 八重垣作る その八重垣を
Layers of cloud in the sky I am here, ‘Izumo’ country to protect my sweet wife I will make layers of fences eight layered surrounding our home
Now, I am just taking up writing haikus, so tankas will have to wait, yet there are similarities between the two; and, in fact, a tanka (the 7-7 sound pattern) can be added to the haiku. It might, then, look something like this, using my first haiku as an example.
Slowly, the rain falls, we rejoice in the moment. And then it is gone. I await the next moment, frenzied feeling of delight.
Alright, so the “official” first post in this new series is set to go out next Friday, yet, as I was writing that post, it occurred to me to write this one. What’s the one thing? Good question. Here’s a quick overview.
Basically, I read the book, The One Thing, last year, and then recently I was thinking about creating a series, where I could write about my one thing. Whether that be my one thing of the day, week, month, quarter, or, yes, even, year. So here we are. And today?
Today, or, rather, tonight, my one thing on this New Years Eve. Ready. Good. Here we go.
I’ve always enjoyed cooking. I started at a relatively early age, helping in the kitchen, and then cooking dishes for the family around 12 or 13. Growing up in Los Angeles, you get to experience a diversity of food that is, well, only really available in large metropolitan areas.
I am grateful for where I grew up for many reasons, and one of them is, yep, the food. Delicious.
I didn’t start baking until much later, yet, I do enjoy it so now. There is something about creating food from fresh ingredients that is deeply pleasurable. And, well, of course, getting to eat the end result, even more satisfying.
On tonight’s baking agenda? Vegan banana peanut butter bread. Now, I don’t eat too many carbs today, as they tend to like to stick around, if you know what I mean, yet, I will keep a small portion of the bread for me, freeze it, and eat it over time. Yummy.
Alright, so, here’s the recipe I used tonight, from the Lazy Cat Kitchen. I used all of the ingredients, including agave nectar and regular flour.
Here’s what that looked like.
Alright, as I await the bread to cool, a few insights about the recipe.
Super easy to follow – again I only bake sporadically, maybe, once a month on average, so I am always wary of recipes where I’ll need to purchase a lot of additional ingredients. Not the case with this super easy recipe. I purchased the agave nectar, that was all.
Alteration – I made one alteration, which was to not use water in the recipe, as I used a “traditional” peanut butter, which simply means it is a peanut butter that you must stir, so is less viscous than “normal” peanut butter.
Toppings – I chose to forgo the toppings. Mostly this is due to caloric intake, and because I will slice the bread and freeze it, then thaw a piece or two when wanted.
And, how did it taste? Delicious!
A very simple recipe. When I next make the recipe I will use a little more peanut butter, as I think that would enhance the experience. However, it should be noted, I love peanut butter, so that’s part of it, for me anyway.
And that was my one thing last night. Wow, that was fun.
Though I’ve already written it, I’d like to do so again.