Clichés can be tiresome – there’s no I in team, no man [or woman!] is an island, many hands make light work etc. But just because something is overused and therefore annoying, it doesn’t make it untrue. In the fifteen years since I set up Sea to Sky Meeting Management I’ve found that all of the above applies.
So, for example, when I’m putting together an overarching timeline of deliverables for an international conference, I work with a team of exceptional people who take ownership of the project in their individual areas of expertise – things like sponsorship, marketing, registration, production and onsite management. It’s so much more than just an individual to-do list and a great memory. It’s a collaborative process, a working document that we regularly review, change and update. We meet weekly to discuss it and use it as a key source for more detailed areas of work.
This approach to forward planning is about the ability to ignore the non-essential, time-sensitive stuff for as long as it takes to focus on the essential, non-time-sensitive stuff. And if that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s from one of the most influential books ever written about business and personal development – Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989. The book has resonances for me on a personal level as well as a professional one and so do those clichés I mentioned before.
When I founded Sea to Sky Meeting and Association Management in 2001 I happily worked 24/7. But when my son arrived I had to find a way to juggle owning and operating a business and looking after a newborn. There’s just no way I could have done that without a strong support network.
Now I wasn’t working 24/7, or rather I still was, but between my “two babies” – Johnathan and Sea to Sky. For my daughter Ciana’s arrival, I was very smart and planned ahead to ensure we were properly staffed with great people, trained and ready to manage projects so I could have the summer off to be with her. Of course, the best laid plans…shortly prior to her birth, some of our team members moved on, leaving me with no choice but to be at my desk two days after giving birth.
These days my husband and I run the company together, and we divide up the duties to give me the flexibility to care for both children and Sea to Sky. In addition, I have a dedicated and professional team of project managers, coordinators, and assistants who make sure that our clients are always looked after. On the home front, until Ciana was five years old, I had a marvelous nanny whose career is looking after children and who cooked and liked to tidy. I also hire cleaners to clean the house, handy people to fix and build things and students for yardwork.
So yes, ditch the clichés if you like, but I for one will never underestimate or fail to recognize the people that helped me achieve the personal and professional fulfilment I’ve enjoyed.