Friday, August 10, 2012

Some Folks Who Should Think Twice About Consulting

In the business of consulting, I have observed that to be successful, there needs to really be a sense of commitment to others....the company, the client, the team....the "others" who have really nothing to do with your personal life.  That being said, it also takes a certain type of person and life experience to be able to balance the demands of being good at consulting and being a good father, husband, friend, etc.

Consulting is an attractive profession for reasons too numerous to define here, but, I submit that you will become frustrated and eventually fail at this gig unless you can truly look in the mirror and make these statements honestly to yourself:

1.  I have a mature relationship with my wife and family and they support me 100%
2.  I am strong enough to put the team and the client ahead of myself when I am on assignment
3.  I can handle the stresses and frustration of full-time travel without taking it out on others
4.  I am okay with not being allowed to engage in the self-serving whining of "having a bad day."
5.  I can honestly approach mistakes as an opportunity to improve myself and my team without judgement on a personal level
6.  I can honestly listen to the feed back of my team and make an honest effort to improve, without judging them
7.  I have weighed the benefits and the costs and the benefits outweigh the costs

I see, time and again, people who are not cut out for this business, struggling to try and make it work.  They are bright, energetic and capable of many things.  Often, though, they refuse to answer these questions truthfully.  They take constructive criticism as a personal attack because they are incapable of this level of self-awareness and do not value anyone else's position on their performance.  This is often a problem with the "type-A" personalities drawn to the consulting gig.  Particularly disturbing to me are the personalities that put themselves ahead of their team and young, inexperienced consultants who think they can do this with a young marriage or young children (12 or younger), at home.  I am not saying it is impossible, but I would venture to guess...and it's just my observation, that more of these folks have wound up failing in this business than succeeding.  I applaud those who, when faced with the challenges of personal situations that can only be harmed by this gig, make the right decisions for their families.  The consulting world I have seen is littered with wrecked relationships of all kinds as a result of a lack of balance and true self-awareness.

I should know....I could not answer all of these questions truthfully when I began, but have learned to listen better and and think more about my team than myself.  I also have had the love and support of a wonderful family and we are living life to the balance.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Leading Your Family Through Change

They say that the only constant is change and the last couple of months have been absolutely crazy in our home!  To wit:

1.  My son, PFC Ben Pollhein, graduated his Army Advanced Individual Training as a Combat Photographer and came home for 10 days of leave
2.  My son James had his High School graduation week and graduation
3.  James, now also a PFC, then had a week of Summer vacation and then shipped off to Army Basic Combat Training
4.  My son Matt headed off to a week of Scout Camp
5.  James, Matt and I spent a few days painting a large portion of our old Victorian home
6.  Matt, Joe, and I led a 50-mile, week long canoe trip with 6 other scouts and leaders.

They say stress is brought on by changes...changes both great and small.  When many changes occur, there is often a very large disturbance in the harmony of the family.  Everyone must process change in their own way.  Being aware that change causes stress and that it can be very upsetting is critical to you as the leader of your family.  

We have been processing the changes in our home individually.  The house is much quieter now...with Matt still away at camp, Joey working every day, and Ben and James in the care of Uncle Sam.  Gillian is babysitting now, and trying to train her puppy.  Terri is rearranging things and wanting to go "do stuff.". "Stuff" like canoeing and making plans to visit friends and family.  I am heading back to Colombia, South America to do more consulting work.  When I return next week, Matt, Joey and I will be leading a week-long 50-Mile Canoe Trip with Matt's Scout Troop.  And the activity in our family continues, each of us knowing that even though many things have changed, our lives will move on in new directions with different things taking priority.  Through all of it, we will be strong as a family because we love each other.  As two of our sons serve their country, we will remain close to them and watch them grow and mature in their new roles.

As the leader of your family, know that whatever changes your family might experience, they will look to you to lead them through.  Listen and give guidance.  Take time to discuss the changes one-on-one with your individual family members.  Focus on the whole, but don't forget that spending time with each individual is also important.  Do things together....Most of our cherished memories are of doing something fun or exciting together.  And at the end of the day, remember to set aside some time for yourself.