Week 4 – Reality Bites

Last week’s entry focused on rolling with the punches. It’s like Dory and the ‘just keep swimming’ mantra. Some days are simply like that. On those days you recognize how critical those previous acceptance and planning weeks were, am I right?

So you’ve planned. You take some hits. You keep swimming. You pull out of the cycle of accepting punches, you persevere, you really elevate you game, you get comfortable with this ‘new-for-a-moment normal’, you see light at the end of the tunnel then – BIGGER BAM! – suddenly you’re in TKO (technical knockout) territory. Reality can in fact bite. I’m making this post at the end of week 4 and will leave little distance between posting for week 4 and week 5 for one reason – REALITY WILL BITE.

And it’s not ok to wallow. Throughout all transformational journeys you will face at least one seemingly unrecoverable faux-final obstacle. Key words: seemingly and faux-final. You really get to decide here whether you’re going to be down for the count. To succeed, you take the hit, you get back up, you become stronger.

  • We know where we stand. (week 1)
  • We know where we need to be. (week 2)
  • We take some hits. (week 3)
  • We face a significant, unexpected obstacle(s). (week 4, today)

Do what you can to respond to the significant obstacle. While reality does bite, examine that reality. Now think about where you are headed and why. If you were already there, at your end game, what would this significant obstacle look like in that environment? In most instances, it’s simply a cross to bear, not a final blow.

These knockout scenarios reinforce your plan, your vision, your goal.

These punches, these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, often highlight once again your “why” to being on the path you’re on. Your starting state isn’t ideal. You know this. These knockout scenarios reinforce your plan, your vision, your goal. You aren’t changing for the sake of change here. There’s a reason you’re on a transformational journey. These attacks pack much less of a punch when you’ve streamlined and tackled the hard decisions.

Reality Check: This Week’s Accomplishment(s)

For real though, this week amidst all the COVID-19 fallout, it’s important to celebrate the accomplishments for the planned, long-game work. We become fixated on the daily reactive work – rapidly moving our classes online and ensuring our people can successfully support remote-everything – and sometimes forget that we have strategic objectives requiring task completion. Everything we do in IT is only as successful as the structured, building-block-style execution of ordered executions. This week, our exceptional team has:

  1. Physically started the consolidation of IT
  2. Refined our staff to ensure needs can be met moving forward
  3. Planned and scheduled initial work on our ERP refresh
  4. Completed via delivery, setup and power-on step one of moving toward our highly efficient connected campus infrastructure

This is on top of moving our whole campus online in an organized, deliberate fashion. Next week we have other goals of significance, while knowing we are about to be challenged with turning that eerily smooth move to remote physically ON. With no exaggeration, this next week will be chaotic. I encourage everyone to embrace the chaos and chant-on-repeat: “We are human. No one will die today without a (insert technology tool here). Let’s see if we can identify a workaround while we address the need.”

We got this. How are we on track when everyone’s hair is on fire? Shrug. We just are. Because this team is STRONG.

Upcoming challenging week? OK. We also have step two of infrastructure upgrades and a full week of ERP refresh. Challenge accepted?

Stay the course. Get creative.

And though it may fly in the face of everything you’ve ever experienced, know that during these trying moments – and you’ll likely feel this level of devastation repeatedly on any transformational journey – it is TIME to ramp up the communications and connections.

This is where that oft overused ‘lean in’ phrase really applies. Don’t forget to use the weight and power behind you (and in front of you). And be authentic every step of the way. This is where the power of ‘we’ fuels your fire.

Until next week…

As a scrappy Gen-X’r, the toughest moments can be anyone’s strongest. I think of the gas card scene in Reality Bites. Sometimes you have to think all the way outside of the box to get past obstacles.

The premise:

I love a good challenge. The more impossible the better. So here we are. I’ve been at my current institution for roughly seven months. I’m looking at this university and, with each and every glance, I fall in love with it a bit more. The campus. The possibilities. The people. The support. The empowerment. The beautiful slate. And, for the record, my lenses are not of the rosy variety. They are crystal clear. There is tension. There is change. There is fear. There is wonder. There is passion. But mostly, there is opportunity. And there are distractions. I love a good challenge. The more impossible the better.

We know where we are. We have twenty weeks (-ish) until the close of this fiscal year and the opening of the next. As an institution we have goals. As an IT team we have goals that must align to and with the institutional goals.