If I were to ask you “what's the most difficult task or project you ever had to handle in your career”, how would you answer that? You know when you ask someone a question and the answer you get is “it depends”, it drives you nuts sometimes, doesn't it?
Had Difficult Situations?
Well, if your answer is “it depends”, I would be totally fine with that. How difficult a particular task or project is, is all about your perspective. Were you excited about that project? Did you work your butt off? How long did the project or the excitement last? Were you an individual contributor or in a leadership role? How were other people around you feeling – did they look tired, stressed, sleep deprived? Were you the one feeling tired, stressed, and/or sleep deprived?
One of my stories
I will tell you one of my stories when I worked on a project in a leadership role. The project was everything from hardware specifications, testing, and installation of broadcast transmitters to bring TV programs directly to consumers on their mobile phones. This was a totally new technology. My team and I had never worked on anything near broadcasting related technologies.
I was dealing with vendors in Germany, France, and US pretty much every day, calling them as needed. I was talking with the vendors in Germany as late as midnight or even past that due to the time difference. We had to visit several mountain sites in various cities in the US where this “Mobile TV” broadcast transmitters were being installed.
Some of my team members and I were part of the final commissioning of the sites. I was going “nuts” with meetings, phone calls, emails, and whatever tool of communication you could think of. It was so “crazy” that my boss at the time mentioned to me once that he didn't want to see any email from me past 10pm and definitely none over the weekends.
When I look back now, I realize that not only the project was challenging as well as exciting, but I was also driving myself and everybody around me crazy. Yes, we were focused to make things happen, but in that mode, we were forgetting one big thing – Life is not just about work, it's a lot more than that! Focus is good, but we were simply focused on just one thing – work.
Was I a good leader? Was I fearless in fighting for my team's overall health? Did I take ownership when things didn't go so well? How was I treating people – did I care about them? Did I stop to look if people were stressed out and/or weren't getting enough sleep? Unfortunately, the answer to some of these questions is No!
Don't lose perspective on Life
So, focus on your (difficult) tasks at work, but don't lose your perspective on life – your health, your family, and your relationships that you value as well.
That's one of the reasons I developed FOCUS LeadershipTM framework where each letter of the word FOCUS is spelled out as below:
F = Fearlessness
O = Ownership
C = Care
U = Uniqueness
S = Support