Autumn is here, and as part of the changing seasons I have decided to restart a #minimalistmanager challenge.
Read on for a summary of what it’s all about, why my first attempt failed, and how to overcome stress as a manager.
Failure is helpful, because it gives us an opportunity to learn.
I started my first Minimalist Manager challenge 3 years ago, in September 2015. At that time, I set a HUGE and overly ambitious goal: to change 30 aspects of my work life by adding a new task every single day for 30 days. (Watch the 2015 video playlist here).
The results were mixed. I took and published a lot of pictures like this one.
I recorded some video discussions, took introspective notes, and even wrote an e-book to describe my experience and provide a framework for others to try a (more manageable) 15-day challenge.
What Went Wrong
But I also got really overwhelmed.
Throughout that period, my expectations were super high. Unreasonably high.
(If you too are a perfectionist and over-analyzer, you know what I’m talking about.)
My original plan was to publish a summary and analysis of all 30 challenges immediately after they happened, in collections of 4 or 5 topics per post. Although I did eventually manage to get a few published, the sheer magnitude of trying to publish that much information was overwhelming.
In addition to the practical problem of sitting down and writing out my experiences, I also didn’t factor in the emotional toll of taking on a challenge like this. For an introvert, this type of public-facing experiment can be very painful. The negative comments–even from well-intentioned people–can feel like a personal attack. I found the combination of rapid emotional and mental changes, plus the pressure of quickly publishing the results to the general public, to be excruciating.
So instead, I just… stopped… blogging about it.
Stopped talking about it.
Stopped considering all the internal change that had happened.
In the Fight-Flight-Freeze scenario, my reaction was to run away.
The possibility of being thought of as a fraud, or as weak, or of revealing my weaknesses for the world to see… these were all way too painful. I felt powerless to control the narrative of how others would perceive me, and the possibility of losing face was too much to bear.
Instead of recognizing my fear and Facing it, my focus was on moving ahead. Before I could even process the many changes that happened, such as:
- deep spiritual awareness from regular meditation,
- making a list of 100 Gratitudes as a Manager,
- reviewing old journals,
- eliminating piles of cards and memorabilia that had deep significance to me,
- recognizing ineffective patterns, and
- prioritizing my work tasks.
Instead, I pushed all the learning aside… and pressed forward. Rather than helping me to grow, skipping the inner work led to stunted growth. Read more about ineffective growth here.
Why It Failed
Knowing what I now know—about the importance of conducting a Post-Mortem Evaluation and why we need to step into past pain to understand WHY we make the same mistakes—it’s clear to me that I wasn’t prepared to fully appreciate the change that was taking place. It would take me 2 years before I felt ready to step back into an awareness of the lessons during that 30-day Challenge.
Rather than step into the pain and experiencing healthy growth, I decided to rush… to share my experiences… by writing an e-book.
Self-publishing, as I quickly discovered, is incredibly difficult to do. It is also intimidating. As an analyst and strategist, I’m very critical of my own work. Trying to measure up to successful published authors is more than a little intimidating.
To be a successful author, one must learn 1,000,000 things about:
- image sizes,
- file conversion,
- and other nit-picky details that nobody tells you about.
Although I did eventually create a semi-decent digital product on Gumroad, the sales and marketing aspect didn’t enter my mind at all. I was hoping to get honest feedback (“This page needs more explanation; change these words”). Several gracious friends and associates graciously offered to open my file and review it. But the lack of a clear audience made it difficult for me to properly market the book. The lack of momentum was quite discouraging, so I eventually abandoned the project.
The Reboot Challenge
Since then, I pivoted my business and revamped my website. All the previous content is gone and replaced by more functional and useful material (let me know which other topics you’d like to hear about!)
I now feel ready to start again with a “Minimalist Manager Reboot.”
This time around, I’ve decided to cut back quite a bit:
- I will be trying 9 tasks that will push me outside my normal comfort zone and closer to my strategic goals.
- My timeline is 15 days.
- I’m sharing my journey publicly.
Watch my intro video below:
My goal is to put myself in some discomfort in order to gain a better perspective and to push past some barriers that have kept me from growing as a business owner.
How You Can Participate
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Autumn is here, and it’s time for a new #minimalistmanager challenge! I’ll be experiencing tasks that get me closer to business goals, even if it’s uncomfortable… like eating #nosugar (tomorrow’s objective) 🍭🛑. Want to join me? Here’s how: . . . Pick 9 activities that feel slightly uncomfortable but move you toward your goals in four areas: • Care for Self • Organize Surroundings • Prioritize Time • Help Others If you own a business, consider ways to stretch yourself as an owner. Set aside a period of time to work on your challenge (I recommend 9 to 15 days). Write down your challenge tasks. Each day, pick one card out of a hat 🎩. [I scheduled 15 days with 9 activities; the extra days are to recognize and celebrate growth, or consider why it didn’t go so well.] I’ll be posting updates about my challenge here: https://laconteconsulting.com/blog Join me, and let me know what you learn about yourself!
Anything that is worth doing, is WAY more fun with someone else. So I invite you to join me on this challenge.
Our goal is to minimize actions that cause you anxiety, stress, and frustration… and to MAXIMIZE actions that will lead you to seeing results.
Whether you are a business owner, manager, or employee, this challenge can help you direct your time and effort on the “most important things” that lead to your goals (which I call “Moving the Needle”).
This can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.
If you own a business, consider ways to stretch yourself as an owner.
I recommend looking at a combination of 4 focus areas as a Minimalist Manager:
- Care for Self
- Organize Surroundings
- Prioritize Time
- Help Others
Here is the method I am using for this challenge:
- First, pick 9 activities that feel slightly uncomfortable but move you toward your goals.
- Then, set aside a period of time to work on your challenge (I recommend 9 to 15 days).
- Write down your challenge tasks. I just folded a piece of paper into 9 squares (in thirds, then in thirds again) and wrote one task on each square.
- Each day, pick one card out of a hat .
Some of the tasks on my list are things that already I do sporadically. So as part of the challenge, I will INTENTIONALLY push myself. Since I scheduled 15 days with 9 activities, the extra days act as a “breather day” to let me recognize and celebrate growth, and to consider why it may not have gone so well.
I’ll be posting updates about my challenge here on the blog.
My first challenge task is to eliminate all sugar from my diet. 🍭🛑
I’ll be focusing on cleaning up my diet on Day 1, and ongoing for the rest of the 15 days. My goal for this is to gain clarity and focus, get more work done, and feel healthier.
Here is an overview of my upcoming tasks:
- Part 1: No Sugar
- Part 2: Create a Vision Board
- Part 3: Leftie Day
- Part 4: Organize Office
- Part 5: No Facebook
- Part 6: Send Thank-You Notes
- Part 7: Get Offline
- Part 8: Meditate 3x
- Part 9: Work at a New Location
I hope you’ll join me on this adventure.
Let me know what you learn about yourself by commenting here, or leave a private message here.
Follow my #MinimalistManager journey:
Interested in hearing how you can reverse a toxic workplace? Find out more here.
Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.