Friday, April 03, 2009

Relieve stress

Last week I spoke about the two lessons I've learned during last year and 2009. Today I'll speak of the second lesson.

Lesson 2: When things change more often than expected, don't sweat it. Adapt.

Did I say I like planning? I do. But... too much planning can be a waste of time and effort.

Sometimes things just aren't in your hands. You depend on other people, other areas in the company and I think we've pretty much concluded that the only thing you can control is your reaction to situations.

Things change continously and the time lapse between changes is so short that there really is no time to plan again.

What to do?

Stop resisting, go with the flow. Adapt. New circumstances are thrown to you? Re-adjust yourself to respond effectively.

No stress, no worry, no resistance to what is, because it already is!
No complaining, no badbauthing, no resentments.

Regroup, adjust and act.

I wonder what lesson 3 will be...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Micromanaging or are you burning yourself out?

2008 and 2009 so far have taught me two very important lessons. I will cover both in two separate installments.

Lesson 1: Micromanagement

First, let’s define what micromanagement is, according to

   /ˈmaɪkroʊˌmænɪdʒ/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [mahy-kroh-man-ij] Show IPA
–verb (used with object), -aged, -ag⋅ing.
to manage or control with excessive attention to minor details.

I like planning. In fact, I love planning. An old boss of mine used to say that the Japanese spend 70% of the time planning. True? I’ve no idea, but I have seen better and more effective results when I plan whatever I’m going to do.

Planning then starts to become addictive and soon you find yourself trying to plan not only your work, but the work of the people you work with.

You want to cover all the bases. You hide your “control-thirst” behind an attitude of “I want to help, I want to teach, to lead”. And in the end you realize there just isn’t enough time to control every variable and more importantly, there isn’t enough time, energy or patience to “control” people.

You are going crazy trying to take care of all the details, people start to hate you because you want them to do things your way, the results are not good and the stress levels rise rapidly.

A crisis is reached.
You reach a crisis.
The smell of smoke coming from your brain.
The realization of the time spent away from family, friends and hobbies.
The thought: Was it worth it?

No, it’s not. It doesn’t matter If you made a lot of money.

My advice?

Chill. Forget about control. Make peace with the fact that it’s not realistic to control everything. In fact, it’s not necessary. Trust in the people you work with (See the podcasts about delegation at

Prioritize. How? One really good way is using Pareto’s Law (also known as the 80-20 rule), which states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. So choose the 20% of activities that have the 80% of impact in your operation, and focus on that.

Pareto’s Law is just one way, but research more.

Even if your team don’t deliver, it’s not the end of the world. Re-focus on that 20%. Avoid anger and regroup.

Meet me here next time to review lesson 2!
All the best!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Colombians abroad

I just love it when this happens, you know? When out of the blue you find something that resonates with you. I love to see Colombians “making it abroad” and not forgetting where they came from. That, and weird coincidences, which deep down you know are no coincidences at all… I wonder…

Image from

Last week I was checking my favorite decoration blog on the web Decor8 Blog, which I usually do, and I stumbled upon a post about independent shops online and I started scrolling down looking at the pictures, when I see a sketch of a “Colombiana” soda, which is a brand of soda sold here in Colombia.

It was a preview from a shop online called LeftyHand. So I followed the link and it turned out that this shop was created by Marcela Restrepo who in her own words is “a Colombian professional illustrator working in Sydney, Australia. Born left-handed, she loves chocolate, The Eames and staring at the window.”

I loved her work!

Anyway, I was reading today a brochure for the Lápiz de Acero Award for this year, when lo and behold, what do I see in the middle of it? A mention of a 2004 winner in the category of “Internet”, whose name was… you guessed it, Marcela Restrepo! She won the Lápiz de Acero Award for best website with her website, created, as she says it, “…to bring together talented left-handed artists and designers that are actually spread around the world.”

Is this what they call the Law of Attraction?

Well, at least it’s curious!

Anyway, check her work. It’ll make you feel proud if you’re a Colombian.