Last week was brutal. Was glad to just make it through the days without disappointing people or making too many mistakes. I had 32 different conference calls, a boat-load of work, a dentist appointment and planning for my mom’s 70th birthday. Apparently, the military uses an expression which was entirely appropriate last week: “Embrace the suck“, which simply means that situations go bad. . .and you need to deal with it.

Consultantsmind - Embrace the Suck

It’s been a while since I was up that late. Two nights of 2am or later. Honestly, some of that was dozing on/off on the couch. Yikes. As I told my friend – “I must be a really inefficient and slow worker”. These photos are from different nights, not pretty.

Consultantsmind - Late night

Consulting workload is lumpy. It is not linear. There is no “average” workday. Times of madness followed by stretches of ennui. When people I interview ask me about work-life balance, I have to bite my tongue a little bit.  What is balanced? Rather it’s a question of where are you in the S-curve of your career, and life.

Sheryl Sandberg talks about the fallacy of work-life balance for driven people in grueling, innovative, and client-service roles. There is no punch-clock. There is no union telling you to not work past 37.5 hours a week. We are engineering our own work schedule and expectations. We are molding the work around our lives.

Last week, I was the most productive I have been in a long time. Forced between 4-5 “must do” proposals and work-streams, I just triage the situation. There is a witty expression which I believe is very true. . . “if you need to get something done, give it to someone who is busy.” 

Doling out the truth.  One of my gifts is to give direct feedback to people, project manage a situation, without offending people (too much). In other words, I am a friendly truth-speaker. A few of the direct things I said last week:

Don’t let me get in your way. You do not need another manager on this. You tell me where to plug into your work?

No, I don’t really need to know. Unless you want me to take action on it, I don’t want to know.

Seems like you are in good hands with A & B, I am rolling myself off of this assignment.  They have the passion, content, and logistics covered. Giving control up to them.

Cover me on the call – you know my opinion.  The client has had the data request for 3 weeks, so there is not really any apologizing we need to do on our part.

Okay – I am getting off the phone to get back to work.

I agree – but in the list of things to worry about . . .that is #10 on my list. It’s not under our control, and out of scope.

I just don’t think the presentation is actually any better than it was 2 days ago.  Happiness level is low.

You need to do me a solid and speak with B.  You are pretty far apart – She does not have any clue that is how you feel.

My bad for being late on this call.  I owe you a beer.

Have a great week consultants. Do great work this week. Traveling this week, facilitating a workshop, several proposals due to clients. In the hunt to win business. This week will be WAY more fun, less crazy, and honestly. . . I had a restful weekend.

Related note about meetings (from Tomm in comments): 

When organizing a meeting myself I stick to Dominc Barton’s advice which I find very helpful: each item from the agenda is labeled into one of 3 buckets: ‘for information’, ‘for discussion’, ‘for decision’, so we’re all super clear in terms of what outcome shall be expected at the end of the meeting.

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