It didn’t take long to move from “holiday season” to “campaign season,” did it? We’re already two primaries down, and two more to go even before January ends.
Now, I am not overly political, but as a closet media geek I do enjoy watching the political coverage. And as I’ve watched and read across multiple publications, networks, correspondents, and topics, there’s one word that I keep hearing.
Infrastructure. Who has it, who doesn’t. Who can build it fast enough, who can’t build it. What it takes to build it and who has what it takes.
We started hearing about infrastructure as far back as last June, when several of Newt Gingrich’s staff defected all at once. (Oddly, I remember this because I was in Nashville listening to the news on my way to speak at Cracker Barrel headquarters. I like to check in on the world quickly before a talk—there’s nothing worse than walking in blind to something major happening in the world. Thankfully, Newt’s news did not qualify. But I do remember it. End of digression.)
We’ve continued to hear about infrastructure as the election cycle progresses, and in fact, it has been referred to as the key to any candidate’s success. Which got me thinking about you and me, and our campaign to have a successful (as we each define it) and happy (ditto) worklife. So, taking the lessons learned from the winners (and losers) in elections as well as careers, here are the three elements I see as the most important in own personal infrastructure, so that we can start building them today.
Yes, the almighty dollar has an oft-talked about place on the campaign trail. Having it means buying advertising time, hiring experienced staff, printing signs and posters, and traveling to more places, faster (planes cost more than buses) in order to extend the candidate’s name and message to the American people. Even the famous “grassroots” campaign of Howard Dean in 2004 was cited as spending over $2 million on technology alone.
But money as part of your personal infrastructure isn’t just about buying things. It’s about giving you choice. When you feel good about your financial infrastructure, you can make easier choices as to where you work, what you do, who you listen to, and even where you live. I believe you have amazing superpowers that the world needs you to use, with or without a solid financial infrastructure, but the choices you face when you’re trying to wear your red cape today can be easier if your structure is in place.
For example, doing the work to build and understand my own financial infrastructure helped me choose to take a crazy risk to create a new career in the heart of a recession–a risk I’m extremely proud of. It helped me invest time away from paid work last year to finish my book, and most importantly, it’s helped me continue to live and work in my superpower space and make my contributions to my world.
The surprising thing to many I share this idea with is that you don’t need millions to have a strong financial infrastructure. What you do need is to know what you do have, how you’re using it, and what you need to have for who you want to be.
(Since there are tons of websites and resources with great tips on building and caring for your financial infrastructure, I won’t start listing them here, but would love to hear about the ones you’re using–the ones working real-time in your real-life. Share what you know on our Facebook page!)
The candidates and their teams carefully decide which coffeeshop to visit, which factory to tour, which park to hold a rally. The successful ones are stingy with their time, saying yes to opportunities that they’ll get the most out of and saying no to everything else.
You can be stingy with your time, too. Your time is the steel girders of your worklife infrastructure, and giving it away without consideration weakens the whole building. Personally, I continue to practice being stingy with:
- Email time (including that which is conducted on pocket-sized devices. (You can download free tips to help you click less here.)
- Meeting time (no agenda? no clarity? no attendance!)
- Phone call time (see meeting time)
- Volunteer time (yes, ’tis good, but I’ve learned to watch that it’s feeding and not draining my energy. Plenty of places need us AND can benefit from our superpowers.)
- Media time (a tough one indeed–see above confession about media geek-ism.)
After I’ve been stingy about what I’ve said yes to, I then try to be as generous as possible. That is, I’m stingy with who and what I agree to invest time in; then, I strive to be generous with presence and ideas for those few things and not hold back.
From where I sit, it seems like the people that are having the best success (and the most fun) are carefully choosing where they spend their time, and then they’re working like the last refrain of the hokey pokey—they put their whole selves in.
When Gingrich’s staff defected, the media declared his candidacy over. The former Speaker, however, went on to rebuild his organization and continue in the campaign (at least through the time of this writing.) To get this far, I’m guessing he’s learned how to ask for the support he needs.
If you’ve heard me speak, you’ve heard me share my own struggles with recognizing I need support. As one person said to me, “You’re blessed to be highly capable of many things, and you’re cursed to be highly capable of many things.” I’m betting I share that trait with many of you, who are not only the chief cook and bottle washers, but also have designed, made, and marketed the bottles in their careers, too.
As I started getting clear about my superpower space and the contributions I wanted to make to the world, I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t do it alone. I needed help (gulp). I know that sounds very after-school special of me, but it really wasn’t my go-to place to first see who I could go-to.
Since recognizing this as a fact and not a criticism, support has become a vital part of both my personal and professional infrastructure. In fact, I’ve written about building a support team both on this blog and in my book (and you’re bound to hear more about the topic as I continue to build my muscle here.)
What’s the support you need to shore up your personal infrastructure? Not sure? Try one of my favorite questions: “If you had a magic wand, what would you create to help you [do whatever is important to you]?”
Knowing is just the first part of building your infrastructure. The other, of course, is asking for it. But that’s probably a post for another time as I continue to strengthen my own infrastructure.
How are you building your infrastructure for success? Tell us below or on Facebook!
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