Category: personal development

You’re A Rookie, Good!

Are you trying something new? How does it feel? Exciting? Scary? Confusing?

Are you feeling like you want to try something new but you’re afraid? (Seems reasonable!)

Have you stopped considering trying new things because you are:

  • too old, too tired, too cranky, too dull, too young, too blah, blah, blah

In this inspirational talk, the founder of ModCloth (which she started at 17), talks about why it’s good and even powerful to be a ‘rookie.’ When we are rookies, we have no preconceived ideas about how it’s ‘supposed’ to work. That makes it easier (and even necessary) to innovate. We ask rookie questions, we make rookie decisions and we hopefully have rookie energy. Learning is energizing.

There is power in rookiedom. I’m not suggesting that you don’t ask for help or get advice from trusted advisers. Of course, that makes sense. But it’s also important to trust your rookie ‘gut’.

If you are accomplished at something but still want to get better or if you want to expand your capabilities, consider talking to a rookie. Someone who knows very little about the topic. They may have insights that all the experts in the world never would have had.

I was a rookie teacher… I cringe when I think of how naive I was. In many ways, I see how those early lessons shaped the teacher I am today. I’m excited to be a rookie again. I’ll keep you up to date on my, ahem, progress.

Photo credit: School Friends  Woodley Wonderworks

Develop Unconventional Skills

Beach of maria flour. Paulista. Janga. Pernambuco.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Artur jumping.

I studied French and German as an undergrad. I always thought I wanted to be a French teacher. Once I became a secondary school teacher, I realized I liked the kids, didn’t like ‘school.’ Ok, so now what?

I had worked in the University Library for my work-study money and I loved it. So next thing I knew, I was in a Master’s of Library Science program. I didn’t have any idea what I was going to do with this degree. I didn’t really seem like all the other ‘librarians’, but I loved all the adult learning, bringing order out of chaos, etc.

I moved from Washington, D.C. to Rochester, N.Y. and finished my degree at SUNY Geneseo. Now what?

The point of the story is not… what I did. The point is that it’s surprising and amazing how all the skills I learned along the way, helped me gain my future positions. Whether it was teaching that turned into training, or knowing a foreign language that turned into translating; I had a background that others didn’t. That brought me opportunity. That brought my skills and personality to the attention of people who could help me in my career.

Just when you think your weird/odd range of interests could be of no possible benefit to anyone… suddenly you find that you are the person who can get the job done. Make your career long by doing the following:

  • Constantly be learning
  • Learn different things than other people (stamp collecting? uni-cycling?)
  • Expand your network by deliberately including people of various ages, ethnicities, professions, etc.

Do not be discouraged if you are in a job (or looking) that isn’t exactly what you want or if you feel that your diverse skills aren’t appreciated. Hang in there and never give up. With patience if you come to see where you fit. The world needs you just the way you are.

Photo credit: Somersault Netjer-Lelahell

I Don’t Care

All my life I’ve been torn between caring and not caring.

On the one hand, I care deeply about other people.  I grew up in a difficult family (alcoholics) and so much of what I ‘care’ about has to do with people who have ‘less than.’ I make a conscious effort to be helpful and kind.

On the other hand, I have never really cared about what people think about my choices. Because I grew up quickly and had a lot of responsibility, I learned to be independent. When my choices conflict with what other people think they should be, it causes them discomfort and then they judge me. They are afraid that my ‘differentness’ might rub off on them or challenge their own ideas.

A lot of decisions are made because people are so afraid of what other people will say or think. OR what we imagine they might say or think. The more time we spend thinking about what others think, the less time we spend doing cool, fun or interesting stuff, that we want to do.

This morning I heard an old favorite on the radio. “Make Your Own Kind of Music” by Mama Cass Elliott

Nobody can tell ya
There’s only one song worth singing
They may try and sell ya
Cause it hangs them up
To see someone like you
You gotta make your own kind of music
Sing your own special song
Make your own kind music
Even if nobody else sings along
It takes courage to sing your own song. Most of us want someone to sing along. Realize that to be yourself in the face of criticism, being different, having unique ideas and viewpoints, speaking up, etc. are all hallmarks of strength. And if they don’t like it, well, I just don’t care.
Image credit: RapGenius

Start Where You Are

Schmoopy doing a balancing act.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” –Theodore Roosevelt

“WE ALREADY HAVE everything we need. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fear that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun; all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here.” Pema Chodron  Start Where You Are

What could Rough Rider (soldier, big game hunter, President) Teddy Roosevelt and a Buddhist nun have in common?

They both counsel us to live in the day, today. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not here.

If you are seeing the world from under a cloud today, know the sun is just above them. If you are feeling the sun on your face, turn that light towards someone else. It can be as simple as a smile, a thank you. We’re in this together. #Goteam

Photo Credit: Buddha Dog  Bruce

Why Are You So Angry?

“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” – Scott Hamilton

People with a bad attitude (bullies and the like) HATE inspirational sayings. They think they are for are stupid and ‘weak’ people. They feel their anger and bad temper are justified. I remember having a ‘chip on my shoulder’ when I was growing up. (Maybe I still have it.)

My parents were alcoholics, I had my share of problems. Worse, I couldn’t control how I expressed my anger. It just came out. Often when I didn’t want or expect it to. The people I was most angry at… wouldn’t have been able to hear me even if I had expressed my frustrations and fear.

So I’d be at the grocery store and some young clerk would make a mistake and I’d lash out, all out of proportion to the error. When I finished carrying on, I would feel justified at first… then I’d just feel awful. Why did I do that? I was never going to do it again. And then, suddenly, I would do it again.

I finally got sick of being angry. I got help. I went to Al-Anon  (free peer support for families of alcoholics), got a counselor, went to treatment for children of alcoholics. My life changed slowly but dramatically.

My story is no different than many others. I was lucky; I had the will and resources to get help. Many caring and intelligent people never get help. They just stay mad, sad and lost.

If you recognize that you sometimes lash out at people, whether at people you love or strangers, I urge you to talk to someone. There are free resources available to you, no matter where you live. No matter what your problem, there are others who have had them too.

Photo credit: Scott Hamilton

Wanna Be A Teacher? Be a Student.

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I have the privilege of being a teacher. I am grateful for the opportunity and in general, I work to learn as much as I teach. Every environment (classroom, one on one, online) provides me a chance to learn because of the students. Each one teaches me something interesting and often, important.

Life is a series of learning opportunities. How we approach learning is as important as our character.

When someone is a ‘student’ – they get space to fail/make mistakes/goof up. In fact, we expect it. But somehow, when we “grow up” – that changes. We aren’t students anymore; we’re expected to be confident, aware, ‘on top of things.’

Ugh. This drives me crazy. If we view everyone as a full time student of life… who happens to be employed as a (fill in the blank), imagine how much easier it would be to try new things and learn. Failure, mistakes and goof ups would be normal, good, desirable.

Good teachers are everywhere, but good students are hard to find. Look to teach others (it makes us feel smart and important) but WORK to learn (it makes us feel stupid and weak). Hang around other students (entrepreneurs, kids, artists)… they’re full of mistakes and joy.

But I Can’t… Yes I Can

Blonde, Girl, Hairs, Person, Wind, Windy

What’s blocking your vision?

I have a vision of my self as a creative person. I’d like to consider myself an artist. I’m not concerned whether other people think I’m an artist, I want to think of myself that way.

I’m not sure what is blocking me. Is my hair in my face? Do I lack motivation? Do I need a teacher? Do I think I’m too old?

I’m committed to reaching this goal because it’s the only goal I’ve ever had in my entire life that is just for me. I’ll keep you updated on my journey.

Photo credit: Blonde girl   splitshire

Lessons From A Navy Seal: Mud & Singing

Seal buds training

“If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.”

Maybe you don’t want or think you can – change the world. I understand. Your little start up, your job, your way of being in the world, doesn’t matter much.

My idea about ‘changing the world’ is only to help one person, on one day, today. That’s it. So if you change your definition to match mine, perhaps you’d be more inclined to join me.

In a wonderful article, “10 Navy Seal Life Lessons You Can Use Every Day,” I found a mountain of inspiration for my world-changing adventure.

What struck me about this, “up to your neck” lesson was the story behind it: “While the (training) group was (sic) up to their necks in mud, one SEAL started singing through the ordeal and others joined him in chorus. It was something that gave them hope.”

I love to sing. I have happy childhood memories singing show tunes in the car with my mother when we went on a long trip. I can still picture the words carefully written out. Singing was a way to pass the time AND bring us together.

The seal story shows one person’s power to change a group’s thoughts and feelings. If not for that one SEAL, would the entire group have made it through? A calm, positive voice… when we are afraid, lost or feel hopeless… can get us through it. Can you be that one voice for someone today?

Photo Credit: Lance Iverson SF Chronicle

Thought for the Day – Showing Respect

I like these. I particularly like #3. Show ‘great’ respect…

If you’ve been reading the news then you know about “Ferguson” Missouri.

I know many people don’t want to talk about it, but that doesn’t make the problem go away.

And there is a problem. It’s no one’s ‘fault’… but if you aren’t willing to confront the truth, if you are not willing to think about what the people in the streets (black and white, young and old) are saying… then perhaps you get to carry some of the blame. In this situation, there is no right and wrong, there is only moving forward by getting involved in the conversation.

If you look at and listen to the conversation of high school students around the country… each of us can begin to have hope. Listen to the students at the Saint Louis High School where the principal is having students engage each other… which he monitors and insists on respect between the students.

“…creating that decorum within the meeting – is really important to having people say what they need to say. And I always tell the kids, you know, how you relay your message has a lot to do with how it’s accepted and whom you influence.” Kevin Grawer, principal of Maplewood Richmond Heights High School.

Are you listening to people who disagree with you or are you just yelling or worse… pretending their point of view is irrelevant? Do you work to see the other person’s point of view? It’s so easy to be righteous. They should do this or that.

But I’ve never walked in their shoes.

I have, however, been poor, afraid and female. I have a glimpse into why some of the anger exists and why I feel it is often justified.

Respect. It all starts there.

Embrace the Mess – A Key to Innovation

Babies on BORSCHT

Do you embrace the mess?

If you want to hear someone interesting talk about problem solving like an artist, thinking like an artist; here is designer Marc Ecko sharing his thoughts on embrace the mess. He believes that the wealth that matters can’t be really be counted. Think about it. He also recommends that each of us be an “un-label.” When you have truly found yourself,  people are not sure how to describe the essence of “you.” They only know that you are true to yourself and encourage others to do so too.

What’s good about the mess?

It’s rare that innovation/learning/joy comes from a completely planned event. It’s the goof ups, the unexpected changes, the learning how to…, that often produces the good stuff. Are you afraid of the mess?

Try finger painting, with food from your refrigerator (not a lot, just a little). Hang around little kids, watch them experiment. What can we learn from them?

When you have a problem to solve, following all the rules, doing the same thing over and over, talking to the same people for advice and then expecting a breakthrough, doesn’t make sense. For today, I give you permission to do the messy thing. Let me know how it goes.

Photo credit: messy baby photographer