As winter's grip finally descends, it is time for soul food, warm fires and mulled wine - depending on where you live of course. Oh for some really cold weather (just a brief spell mind you) when it is possible to enjoy such delights! Those of us who have been thoroughly enjoying unseasonably balmy weather up until now, have the threat of increasing water restrictions hanging over our heads but we like to think those problems are a long way off.
Having just survived our own ASM and the ATS, the lifestyle of the Ursidae family is very attractive. Having gorged on science over the last couple of months, there is a strong desire to hibernate. By the time spring comes the 'flu season will be behind us, weight will be under control and the hunger will drive productivity.
The economic times, at least in the West, foster despondency. Money is being scrimped and saved everywhere to the extent that service delivery is being compromised. It is impossible to construct effective plans for the future. We are in a holding pattern. It behoves us to lie low.
How do we remain motivated under these circumstances? Motivation, I think, is driven by rewards, not monetary as such, but rather by a sense of achievement, a sense of self worth. On an individual basis we have to set ourselves challenges that are achievable in the short term. This is not time to focus on the big picture as there are so many limitations to achieving big picture goals that are beyond our control, we risk setting ourselves up for failure. Small but achievable goals could be as simple as revising a chapter of the laboratory manual, collecting a series of cases for teaching, completing data collection for a project, writing that manuscript etc.
Challenges for Team Leaders need to be achievable in the same way. One of the key is ensuring that the individual goals within the team build into an achievement for the team. This adds to the worth of the individual challenges as well as building a sense of pulling together as a team. The Team Leader too must have personal goals that are seen to be achieved. Of course the Leader's ultimate challenge is ensuring the team remains motivated, loyal, productive and intact.
At times like this, feeling you are a valued member of a team is critical. This is the season to have Team dinners or other gatherings where it is possible to build relationships and perhaps chart the future. Perhaps a Branch meeting where the focus was on the social aspects rather than the education.
Our lives seem to be increasingly filled with work and work related stresses. Winter is a good time to revisit the balance in life and perhaps regain a clearer perspective. Traditionally we consider New Year the time for resolutions but there is so much else going on then with Christmas and School Holidays that we often trade one set of pressures for another. Winter, I suspect, is a much better time to gather together to chew the fat and take time to savour the good things in life.
Time to hibernate? Tempting as it seems right now, I suspect that would not provide solutions. Oh well, the image was nice while it lasted!
'til next month,