Wednesday, November 25, 2020

2020 Thoughts


2020 Thoughts

        Approaching the holidays, and with Thanksgiving around the corner it is a great time to stop and reflect about the year.  One great way to conclude any stage in our lives is to reflect on what occurred in a constructive way.  This year has been a difficult one to say the least.  It has changed the way many people live their lives.  Then, there is the sobering truth about how much suffering has been inflicted on many by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Fortunately, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.  Vaccines look promising and are giving the world much needed hope of a return to normal.

        One would be remiss not to note the good things that have also happened this year.  Globally, and regionally there have been reasons to celebrate, but ultimately this is a very personal part of reflection.  No one can point out the good things about your year to you.  Everybody has their own take on what they experience, and reflection done from your own perspective will yield more insight.  The important thing is to include reflection as a part of the experience to mature as an individual and bring a better perspective to the following year.

         It is a little surprising to be in a country with so much diversity, in a year where there is so much innovation, under circumstances so dire, and yet observe pettiness.  Considering the ingenuity and competence people have exhibited in multiple ways it stands to reason that open-minded behavior in our interactions with one another is well within our capacity.  We are all unique in some way, but there is so much that we share; enough for us to be able to understand each other on some level, and yet there is much bickering and refusal to communicate in a meaningful way.  

        It is not difficult to work together, people do it all the time.  Accomplishing goals and tasks together also shows that differences can be irrelevant.  However, currently there are some topics that seem to be too emotionally charged to even debate.  Some would argue that the debate needs to be toned down, and others would argue that it needs to be turned up.  That is just one of the myriad of ways in which there is disagreement, but is a good example of the division coexisting with a great need for togetherness.  

        America is a free country, that is the strength on which the current conditions were built.  People do not have to agree with you, but they do have to respect your rights.  In turn, you do not have to agree with them, but you have to respect their rights as well.  It is a simple yet infinitely complicated concept to reflect upon.  Looking within ourselves and examining what role we play in all of this, and doing that at various stages in our lives can improve our ability to work with one another. 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sorting the Unknown

 Given the unprecedented nature of recent events I felt the need to step back and reflect on what I could do to help others besides staying home.  After some consideration I decided to offer free coaching services to essential workers, and people hard hit by the pandemic.  I don't have much experience with what we are dealing but neither do most of us.  I do have some experience helping others and I want to offer that to those who need it.  If you need help sorting through overwhelming feelings or circumstances send me an email at to set up a virtual coaching session.  I am here for you and I will try to help you sort through this as much as I can.  You don't have to go through this alone.  We are in this together.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Staying Calm During a Crisis

               Response to the COVID19 Pandemic by citizens has been mixed.  There have been people on both ends of the spectrum from those who don't believe it's happening to those whose lives are affected by it, and everywhere in between.  I have not experienced anything like this in my lifetime and I think it is safe to say that there is not one right way to respond emotionally.  There are mature ways and more admirable responses, and while none of these are expected from anyone they are highly appreciated.
               This situation has placed unusual strain in leaders, organizations, and ordinary citizens.  While you yourself might not be affected, or perhaps emotionally you are not in the same place as somebody else, it is important to be respectful of others as you would be to anyone experiencing a difficulty.  More importantly, it is vital that you honor your own feelings and concerns, not  by giving in to them and behaving in reaction to how you are feeling, but by asking imperative questions about your own response to help you work through the turmoil.              
              By now you have probably observed more than one crisis in your environment.  You might have had one of your own or you were close to someone who was in the process of overcoming one.  You have come to learn that not every crisis affects you and that you won't be at the center of every crisis.  Hopefully you have also learned that during a crisis the goal is to help overcome the event.  There will be situations where you can do a lot to help with your skills and resources, and there will be times when you will need to be on the sidelines.  Sometimes the best thing thing that you can do will be to provide support for those who are experiencing hardships even if it is only emotional support.  Other times the best thing you can do is steer clear of the situation and allow it to play itself out, especially when it doesn't affect you.  In this current situation dealing with COVID19 something is required of each of us.  We are, after all, in this together. 
              The people in the fields that are hardest hit by this situation are doing an amazing job.  Just showing up to work in the medical field and as a first responder in the middle of a pandemic is noteworthy.  I am applauding their work and including them in my prayers.  Our leaders are also showing us that we can trust them to put aside their differences and get things done in an emergency.  Many organizations are doing right by their employees and setting aside their bottom line in service of a greater good.  Hats off to them for staying on their feet on such shaky ground.  The citizens who are doing their best to comply with the restrictions of social distancing and quarantine also deserve gratitude.  This is a difficult time but our great nations have not been built by, and are not inhabited by, people who cannot overcome difficulties.
              I am closing this entry with some tips that can help you stay calm during this crisis.  They can also help you figure out if there is something you can do to help, and they can give you some peace of mind if you can't do very much.  The current crisis tugs at our tendency to take action.  We want to do something to help.  It is not easy to sit on the sidelines with something small much less with something of this magnitude, so it is important to recognize that doing whatever we can do is enough.

  1. If you don't know what is helpful in this situation or what you can do to help take time to process the situation. 
  2.  Steer away from overwhelmed feelings by asking yourself questions that are relevant to the situation.
  3. Ask yourself what you can do from your viewpoint without overextending yourself.  Overextending yourself will only leave you depleted and unable to function at your best should a crisis occur that is centered around you or your field.
  4. It is important to do what's best not what stands out, or what others are doing.  
  5. Trust others to do their job while you do yours.

Sandra Aguillon
Odysseys, LLC
Managing Director

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Do You Drive People Away?

Driving is such an exhilarating experience when it is just you and the road.  There is nothing like the experience of flowing without having to accommodate for others.  You have so much control when the road is empty.  You can control the speed, and you can have your choice of lane at any given moment.  There is a great appeal to it, and just about anyone will tell you that they would even settle for lighter traffic if they couldn't have an empty road. 

Having to drive on a busy road is limiting.  You can't make certain moves, or drive at certain speeds.  It can feel a bit stifling.  I am sure you have had the experience of being stuck in traffic before.  It is a frustrating experience if not flat out irritating.  I know how common the experience of a crowded road is and that is why I chose that for this entry.  It is an experience that is very familiar to us that can be used to understand something as complex as relationships.

We actually sometimes have more consideration of others on the road than we do in our own personal lives.  I love the example of the empty road because it illustrates perfectly the kind of freedom we all yearn for while simultaneously illustrating that it requires some degree of loneliness.  Freedom all of the time does yield a great deal of control over your time and your choices.  You don't have to accommodate for others, but you don't get to enjoy others either.  The empty road, like the absence of meaningful relationships, doesn't feel like freedom if you're on it all of the time.

People have countless conflicts in their daily lives because they refuse to accommodate or yield to others.  They either have way too many people to accommodate, or they are used to having too few people to accommodate and can't manage increasing restrictions.  They drive people away because they are unable to deal with the discord.  Even though they desire the companionship they are unable to either yield to others or are unable to keep their relationships manageable.   

Figuring out this tightrope of a situation is important.  You have to be able to have the meaningful relationships that you value, and also have space to experience that freedom which inspires you.  I manage my life using the FEW process which helps me keep tabs on the relationship segments of my life, and I know that publishing the handbook and making it available to others will be helpful; but what until then?  What advice do I have to use in the short term?  How does one walk this tightrope of relationship management with more grace?

There's a quick checklist that I used some years back which helped me focus on the relationships I valued most.  I have had many changes in my life, and I have undergone a number of challenges, some in my personal relationships; but I have never lost sight of those relationships I value and I have always provided the space they required.  I recommend this checklist as a starting point to feel stability in your relationships.

Relationship Management Checklist
  1. Take time for yourself when needed.
  2. Know which are your core relationships.
  3. Have conditions for people outside of your core relationships. 
  4. Do not add people to your closest circles if they drain you.
  5. Keep your relationships manageable.

It is very difficult to pass up on relationships that are promising, but sometimes they are not healthy relationships.  It is important to identify the conditions that a relationship needs to meet so that you do not find yourself in those that drain you.  Sometimes people will be a good fit for you, but you might not be a good fit for them.  You might find that you are a good fit for them, but they are not a good fit for you.  Neither condition means that either person is not good enough.  Whatever the case if you have a conscious approach to relationships the situation will be manageable.

I don't like to impose my own ideas onto others when sharing general management and procedural techniques.  I do however often share my thoughts or ideas as an example, not as a suggestion.  I will close with one such thought, nothing is more beautiful than the presence of a meaningful relationship with a loved one in your life.  Cherish and nurture that.

S. Aguillon
Odysseys LLC
Managing Director

Friday, January 31, 2020

Can Having a Purpose Reduce Conflict?

                                                                                                                                  By Sandra Aguillon
                                                                                                                                  Odysseys LLC, Managing Director

Purpose is very central to what I recommend and base much of my work on. It is often a much needed refocusing tool and guide. If I had to explain purpose I would compare it to the destination you choose on a navigational system. Before you head anywhere on any trip you have to know where you are going. Even if you plan to wander aimlessly, you choose to do that before you start your trip.

When you have a purpose many of your choices and much of your planning is done around that purpose. When you have determined a destination most forward movement will be in that general direction. Forward movement is not the only part of a journey, but your purpose will be the essence overall. There are activities that you will engage in for the joy of the activity like certain social events, some sports, and hobbies, but they will revolve around your central purpose not the other way around.

Recently, I spent some time studying conflict and the effects that conflict has on organizations. The lens through which I observe situations was temporarily shifted to look at the conflict in certain events instead of addressing purpose. This was a valuable exercise. Conflict is a hurdle to purpose and, as I have learned, a hurdle is manageable and can sometimes strengthen purpose. The central question that surfaced was 'What happens when there are too many hurdles, and how can purpose be used to better manage the conflict?'

Conflict as it turns out, much like countless other elements in our lives, is sometimes relevant and other times irrelevant. For instance, consider someone running a store whose purpose is to be the low price leader of their product. This is very simplified, but the idea is sufficiently covered. Consider two conflicts; one consists of a customer who is upset and arguing with a sales person because the store does not carry a product she is looking to purchase, the other consists of two sales persons unwilling to work on the same shift because they dislike each other so much. Can you decipher which conflict is relevant to the store and which is irrelevant? Which conflict would you recommend the store have a meeting to address?

The amount of conflict perhaps is unchanged by purpose initially, but the amount of time and energy one spends on conflicts is minimized by having a defined purpose. How would a store know which conflicts are relevant and which are not if they do not have a purpose, and what effect would different purposes have on the same set of conflicts? What if the store in our example had a purpose to please every customer and make sure they leave the store happy? The changing purpose changes the priorities. So, does having a purpose reduce conflict? I conclude that it does, because knowing which conflict matters reduces the attention you give to those that are not relevant.