😶🌫️ Adam's Mood Board for March 2023
A visual way to anchor my mood and actions at work
Do you want to drive intentionality into your actions at work? Have reminders of what’s important and not just urgent? Match your mood and actions to the business and team needs? Have a totem to avoid your negative emotions by default?
You might want to try a mood board for your work life. It only takes about one hour to create and if you print it out, it will be an ongoing reminder of how you want to show up.
I tried a mood board for the first time in May 2022 and this week’s post showcases a refresh of my mood board for today’s team and business context.
Plus it was a great chance to put DALL-E to good use!
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My March 2023 Mood Board
This month, my board was a mix of clarifying business strategy, advising my team, codifying my leadership style, and highlighting activities I want to make time for.
Let me dig into each item on the board!
Generative AI: The Game Has Changed. Act Different
ChatGPT and the wave of generative AI products changed the industry’s mood and launched new methods of product making. There is no going back and there is a lot to learn before we will be comfortable again. We are in a period of letting many ideas bloom and product discovery is shifting to leverage more code-based prototypes. There is of course institutional DNA pulling at old ways of working; this graphic reminds me to not pattern match to how I normally build products.
A Reminder to Seek Out Learning Moments
Ever since becoming the leadership sponsor of Learning & Development in my organization, I’ve redoubled my efforts to embrace a learning mindset myself and help at-scale adoption of a Growth Mindset. My mood right now when I’m at my best is to be curious before pushing my own agenda.
In addition, one of my 23 for 23 goals is to prioritize Learning Time weekly with my kids - this reminds me of that.
Make Time for Hobbies
Half marathon, my writing, public speaking, and house decarbonization projects are all on my 23 for 23 list as major activities and hobbies that will give me joy. This graphic encourages me to remember to balance work with passions & hobbies.
This is not only how I avoid burnout, but it also makes me more creative at work by giving me distance and perspective.
Setting the Bar with “I Need” and “I Expect”
Someone I worked with very closely for years recently retired to spend a year traveling around the West Coast living his best #vanlife. His advice for me as he was leaving was: “Adam, you need to just tell the team more about what you need from them. Don’t solve their problems but set clearer expectations.”
This has stuck with me, even more so as I have a newly expanded scope and my job transitions even more to empowering senior people. Role modeling is less of a tool available to me and bar setting is now a larger part of my job. I’m still not totally comfortable with it, but this graphic is a reminder to experiment with more blunt forms of communicating my needs and expectations.
In a sense, this graphic epitomizes my role as an impact-mindset leader vs. an execution-mindset leader. “Here’s what our success looks like” more than “Wow, I understand how hard it will be to get there.”
January Was a Tough Month
January hit my team like a firestorm: industry-wide layoffs, massive partner team reorgs, changed HR policies, office moves, and new year’s planning during a time of rapid industry change. It seemed like every week brought unplanned change and major news. There was a lot to adapt to and I don’t think I or the team had time to digest and process the stress in the normal way.
Also, I’m loving the HBO TV show The Last of Us, so the meme floating around about Joel’s panic attack resonated with me. It is a human moment of vulnerability in an otherwise action-packed, surprise-driven narrative. This graphic helps remind me that January left a scar and also that I need to lead differently in times of change and ambiguity.
The last time there was a period of economic contraction, I became a lot more cynical. I’ve seen that a bit among members of my organization recently, too. I want to lead with intentionality to remind folks (and myself!) to avoid that trap. We all bring different types of negative energy to work when we are not at our best, and this one is often mine. It’s unhelpful.
The Only Way Out Is Through
As with all groups of people, new projects and teams always have their “form → storm → norm → perform” cycles. I’ve learned in my career that team accomplishments are a magic elixir to accelerate this cycle. The confidence and joy that comes from shipping or achieving a team goal together accelerates the path to high performance. Many times, problems that teams have along the way solve themselves once the team gains confidence by shipping.
This graphic is a reminder of my role as a leader to help people find grit and resiliency, especially when they are thrust into new team-forming situations. I want to remind people to strive for impact and shared wins quickly and see me as a steady and calm presence that has confidence in the future.
“Do Hard Things In a Calm Way With Me”
This is my only repeat from my May 2022 board! It’s still my main motto for how I want to show up at work. It encapsulates a lot of what’s embedded in the rest of the board.
Do = Act, not think or talk.
Hard Things = We do what’s difficult so our customers don’t have to.
In A Calm Way = Patience, attention, focus, and optimism.
With Me = We are in this together.
Try Making A Mood Board Yourself
It takes about an hour to do a mood board. I wrote down notes of the major themes/elements in a notetaking app first. Then I used DALL-E to generate the imagery, adding text overlays in Canva. Finally, I put it all together into one Canva poster.
You can print it out and put it in your office if that helps remind you of your synthesis.
Let me know if you try it!