People occasionally ask me, “So, Hayden, what do you do?” My career is well into its second decade and I still never have a good answer to that question. I feel like I should have a good elevator pitch on “me” by now, but the truth is that I do a lot of things. I’ve often felt that a packaged pitch would run the risk of selling myself short.
Some people can answer with “I’m a doctor,” or “My Master’s Degree is in accounting.” With those types of backgrounds, you get a reasonably good idea of what people do for a living. I’m just not that easy to nail down. And I love that.
How I’m Wired
Despite not having a short, direct answer about what it is I really do, there are a few things that time and experience have made abundantly clear.
I’m a Creative
Some of my earliest memories include construction paper, scissors, crafts, crayons and the like. I’ve always enjoyed dreaming up ideas and making stuff. I love coming up with ideas and figuring out ways to make stuff better. To me, that’s fun.
I’m a Storyteller
I love sharing life experiences, insights, and wisdom. And I like hearing the same from others and making connections with people that way. That’s part of what this blog is about. I really enjoy being a writer, and others also seem to enjoy reading. So I plan to keep it up.
I’m a Sucker for Technology
Ever since I saw Back to the Future II, I’ve had a thing for gadgets and tech. When the Internet started to be a thing, the possibilities excited me, but when Steve Jobs took that stage in Moscone West to show off the first iPhone in January 2007, I knew the future had arrived. I love technology for the incredible tool it is. I love how it connects people, furthers communication, and creates endless possibilities.
I Love Helping People
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I want to do as He did and leave my legacy in the lives of men. I want to impact people in a powerful and positive way as much as possible.
Sometimes, that means telling others about the hope that Jesus offers. Other times, it just means buying someone a Coke and a candy bar or looking them in the eye and telling them you believe in them and that things will get better. I’ve had many people invest in me over the years, and I’m committed to doing the same for others.
I Am a Communicator
This is one of my strongest propensities, by far. I am a natural-born communicator. Whether it’s written, verbal, in front of crowds, or one-on-one, I love listening, reading nonverbal cues, chatting, making connections, teaching, coaching, and sharing my own experiences. I love taking complicated concepts and boiling them down so that people can understand them.
These skills have typically made me a great go-between for technical teams and clients, but the greater reality is that it’s made me able to adapt well and fill various key roles for whatever team I’m on.
What I Value
In addition to the obvious wirings, I’ve also made an effort to lay out some of my core values when it comes to work. These are always evolving the more I learn and grow, but what follows is the most recent iteration of my work and career values.
Almost all of these values are the result of doing things the wrong way first. I’ve found that the lessons I learn the hard way are the most memorable–and often the most valuable.
1. Maintain a healthy work/life balance.
I believe strongly that work has to be sandboxed. It needs boundaries. We were meant to step away from the work treadmill and recharge our batteries. I’ve learned that I can only burn the candle at both ends in sprints before burnout sets in and I begin to resent my work rather than be energized by it.
So when I’m working, I have a strong commitment to working hard and get the job done well. But when I’m not working, I want to be protective of my family time and rest.
2. Do what you love and love what you do.
I’m convinced that life is too short to spend it doing work I hate. While God has called me to seasons of working at places that were terrible, it was only for a season, and I learned much from the experience. Now, I demand that I love my job so that I can pour the very best of myself into it and do my best work.
So I’m deeply committed to laboring in my strengths and to passing on opportunities that are outside my gift mix. In the end, this creates a win for me and clients or employers.
3. Do no harm.
There are people out there who just want to collect a paycheck. In doing so, they are more concerned with a payday than actually solving problems for people and leaving things better than how they found them. That’s always bothered me.
When it comes to work, If I’m not making things better and creating solutions, then I’m doing more harm than good. I don’t want to put more awfulness out there in the world; I want to leave things better than I found them. That starts with a commitment to do harm.
4. Work smarter, not harder.
I’ve had jobs where the focus was more on obeying traditional expectations of office life than actually doing great work. I have no affinity for the traditional office 9-to-5 cube-farm environment. I’m not energized by fluorescent lights and long daily commutes filled with awful Atlanta traffic. And I am rarely most productive for 8 or 9 hours at a time. In the past, I would just power through, double down, and work harder. But I’ve recently discovered a better way. I’ve decided to work smarter, not harder.
For me, this means working from locations that inspire me and allow me to focus. Having a home office has been great for this. Working smarter also means getting up and getting right to work, but taking mental and physical breaks throughout the day as needed. I’ve also become committed to tracking my sleep and making sure I feel physically prepared for the work day. These things have helped me tremendously and go a long way to contributing to a healthy lifestyle that enables me to be my most creative and productive.
5. Be honest and trustworthy.
6. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
7. Never stop learning.
My wife’s grandfather was an engineer at NASA during the Apollo missions. He was literally a rocket scientist! One thing he instilled in Julia was to never stop learning. He even took college engineering classes in his 80′s just because he liked to learn. I was always so impressed by that, and it’s instilled in me a value to never stop striving to improve myself, too.
8. Finish the drill.
The head football coach of my alma matter, the Georgia Bulldogs, loves to say this phrase on the football field, and I think it’s just awesome. I’ve learned over the years that finishing well is just as important as starting well, and I always want to commit to finish the task well, whether it’s at work, home, or anywhere else. And this is especially true in life. I don’t plan to retire, then die on a golf course or on the beach. I believe I can finish much better than that.
If you’d like more information about where I’ve been and who I’ve helped in the past, you can check out my LinkedIn Profile or download my resumé. Just click the links below. I’m always interested in new opportunities, whether it’s writing, consulting, or otherwise. I’d love to hear from you.