CEO's Message—Fourth Quarter 2015
Some Things Never Change
By Parnell Black, MBA, CPA, CVA
Chief Executive Officer
The other day, our Executive Director, Pam Bailey, who is very in-tune with what is going on in my psyche, passed along to me a CEO’s Message I wrote 15 years ago. After I read it, I knew why she passed it along, and it was because what applied to my life then, applies today, every bit of it.
The CEO’s Message is entitled “Spreading Yourself Too Thin.” For a few reasons I found it depressing to read, one being that after 15 years some things about my work and life have not changed. Another being, the realization that 15 years from now, I might be sharing this Message with you again.
But on the bright side, as my mother used to always remind me, “everything in my life is of my own creation, so don’t complain. You have a pretty good life son and a lot to be grateful for.” She was right and I knew it then and remind myself of that every day.
Here is my CEO’s Message first published in November/December, 2000. I hope the advice given herein is as helpful to you as it has been to me.
—— Spreading Yourself Too Thin? ——
Need I say more? I am sure most everyone reading this message can relate to its title. Nowadays, the way of the world is too much, too fast. What has become of us? Or am I the only one whose life is racing by at the speed of light while “pressed to the wire” at all times? I don’t believe I am in this boat alone. So what’s compelling us to drive ourselves at this unbelievable pace?
I surmise there are many dynamics at work affecting the pace and, consequently, the quality of our lives—some, which we can control, and some which we can’t. To harness the pace at which we find ourselves, we must first get control of those aspects which can be controlled and take measures to at least attempt to control those aspects over which we have little control.
I find comfort in performing the following exercise from time-to-time. It involves first identifying the reasons I feel pressed (squeezed, pushed and pulled, haggard, etc.). Those are:
- Setting unrealistic deadlines
- Expectations of myself are unrealistic or too high
- Trying to accommodate (and please) everyone
- Attempting to do everything myself and my way
- Wanting to seize every opportunity now
- Wanting everything done yesterday
- Needing to know everything (want full information)
- There is always another mountain for me to climb (and time is running out)
- Failure is not an option
To complete the exercise, I will identify specific items in each category above that may be within my control where I can effect change, or at least alter my perspective, to ease the pressure. For example:
- Project deadlines can often be changed—many are self-imposed and others require a phone call (and usually an apology).
- I need to remind myself—I work hard enough and no one (other than me) expects me to work any harder.
- It is impossible to please everyone. Prioritize what and who is most important. Most importantly, don’t promise what can’t be performed, and don’t get hung up if I upset someone.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate. I must remind myself that others are qualified and not everything has to be done my way. Identify projects/tasks and people qualified or even somewhat qualified to handle those responsibilities, and let go.
- Opportunities are always presenting themselves and many will still be there tomorrow (next year for that matter). What is most important is focus and allotting the necessary time to each opportunity to make it a success. Thus, it is necessary to size up each opportunity, weigh the costs and benefits (not always financial), and choose a path.
- Nothing can get done yesterday and some things just will not get done. (I repeat this five times.)
- Unfortunately, complete information is never available and decisions must be made and actions taken regardless. This is where one must rely on instinct and intuition. (I’m always listening.)
- The mountain will always be there and time is not running out. (Heck, I’ve got twenty-plus years. For that matter, I don’t know if I ever want to retire. What would I do? I’m having way too much fun—if I just wasn’t “pinned to the wall.”)
- There is no such thing as failure. Everything, every experience, every event whether perceived good or bad is a learning experience. And isn’t learning what it is all about? The fact of the matter, in looking back I cannot count one failure—so why am I afraid of failure? (I’m sure Freud would have an answer.)
The pace we keep often seems to be outside our influence and thus we place blame on all those, and all things, that impact us. The problem though, as I’ve concluded in my exercise above, is one’s own perception of how things must work. But that is just perception.
The key to maintaining a manageable pace is reminding yourself at all times—you are in control.
I am sure everything I’m telling you—you already know. This is just a holiday reminder to consider what is required in your life and career to maintain balance and fulfillment, which are the keys to prosperity in your career as well as your personal life.
Thank you for another successful year for NACVA. We wish you the best success for the coming year. The staff at NACVA and I are committed to doing everything possible to assure your success and be proactive addressing your needs, wants, and desires. I hope to see you in San Diego, June 8–11, 2016 for our Annual Consultants’ Conference and to celebrate NACVA’s 25-Year Anniversary. For substantial early registration discounts and conference details call (800) 677-2009 and ask for Member/Client Services, or click here. Mention this CEO’s Message when you register and do so by December 31, 2015, and I will knock another $25 off your fee.
Parnell Black, MBA, CPA, CVA
Chief Executive Officer