“You have to finish things … you learn by finishing things.” Neil Gaiman
When I think of all the projects I have started and never finished… it’s a little embarrassing. There was a point in my life when I tried a lot of different creative endeavors; basket weaving (really, really hard), Ukrainian eye dying (maddening), calligraphy (oh brother), etc. I do crochet and want to learn to quilt, so I have big bags of yarn and fabric. Someday, I am going to create a lot of great stuff. (wink, wink). I like to start things, sometimes I fall apart when it comes to finishing. Am I alone in that or are you the same?
When I read the above quote… it caused me to stop and think. Do we really learn from starting things or finishing things or both? Think about the last project you started at home. Did you finish it? Think of a really big project you started at your current or past job. I assume the project was broken down into smaller pieces. Did you celebrate a little when each step was completed?
There may be limited benefit to debating the starting/finishing question, but my guess is that a few minutes contemplating both might lead to some personal insights. What causes me to procrastinate? What causes me to abandon something before it’s done? I’m not lazy; I accomplish a lot everyday.
Think about specific projects. Share your thoughts with someone and then decide to take one action.
Photo credit: wjarrettc photo
I am thinking of two mid-30′s business leaders.
One went to Yale and had a lot of advantages in life. He’s good looking in an Abercrombie kind of way, soccer star… you know the type. The other is also good looking (by that same standard) and athletic. He has a degree from a state school. His parents are teachers.
If IQ or ‘what college you attended’ or grade point average were the measures of success – the Yalie should win. But something else is really at the heart of business ‘success’ and it relates to:
– whether you see obstacles as opportunities or things that slow you down.
One way to to learn about obstacles as opportunities — is to grow up WITHOUT advantages. This builds grit and grit builds success. I wrote a post a few year back about people who failed time and again. Michael Jordan and Ulysses S. Grant. I had a college professor tell me I’d never graduate from college. Haha. I showed him.
Bottom line is — if you think that people who went to Ivy League schools are automatically successful, I ask you to think again.
As a country, we are suffering from ‘elitism fever’ (we think we’re better than others) – but deep in our hearts we know – the American spirit is grounded in pure grit. So next time you go to hire someone, why not ask… what obstacles have you overcome to be here? That might tell you everything you need to know.
Image credit: Elia Locardi
I just learned about this… Got Your Six.
In the military when someone tells you that they’ve “Got Your 6,” it means they’re watching your back.
This post is about 2 things:
1) Who’s back do you have and who’s got your back?
2) What are you doing to help our Veterans who are returning from service?
Regarding #1 – I think it’s my job to care for every person I meet. By ‘care for’ I mean see them. Look in their eyes, smile and listen. As for who has my back… there are so many people who have watched over me; I am blessed. I am sending out a loving thank you to each of you today.
Regarding #2 – Our Veterans are coming back from service– they need our support. The “all-volunteer” group of servicemen and women face significant issues resulting from multiple tours of duty and injury — to the body and to the spirit. We can all do something. We just need to find it. They need support in– jobs, education, health, housing, family and leadership.
We need to take the skill and experience of those who have served and let them show us the way — while we stand by them and stand up for them. It is our duty and privilege.
“The chief trick to making good mistakes is not to hide them – especially not from yourself. Instead of turning away in denial, … you should become a connoisseur of your own mistakes, turning them over in your mind as if they were works of art, which, in a way they are.” Daniel Dennet
Many of us want to shrink when we make a mistake. We deny that we’ve made one or we hesitate to own our part. While it may seem easier to avoid ‘consequences’ – the truth is we (almost) always feel the consequences one way or the other. For instance, if we avoid taking risks for fear of looking foolish – we deprive ourselves of opportunities to grow and learn. Not good.
If we take a big risk… e.g. wholeheartedly sponsor a big project at work… and it goes well; we might get that promotion. If it fails, we will suffer from the ‘slings and arrows’ of people’s looks and possible gossip. But who learned? You did. While they were sitting back and judging you, you were out there talking, promoting, learning, growing and gaining visibility. Instead of hiding from your mistakes; what if you embraced them? what if you just say, “Wow, I made a mistake. I learned a lot and I won’t make that mistake again.” Imagine how confident you would seem and feel.
Billy Joel has a great line in his song… You’re Only Human:
“You’re not the only one who’s made mistakes
But they’re the only thing that you can truly call your own”
If mistakes are the only thing I can truly call my own, then I should make MORE not less. We encourage our small children to make mistakes and assure them that it’s ok when they do. Then they get to be teens; we start to bear down on them — don’t make mistakes!. As adults, we are mortified when it happens to us. Why? Because we are afraid to look anything less than perfect. We set a better example when we own our risks/mistakes. We then have the satisfaction of knowing that we created something – all my own. Smile, it’s just a mistake.
Photo credit: Hand over mouth Mel B.
My aha career moments… here are two.
1) I had been working in corporate America (a Fortune 25 company) when I got pregnant with my first child. I realized that if I was going to create the ‘life’ I wanted, I was going to have to figure out how to work part time. There were no ‘part-time’ ‘professional (non-exempt) women working as managers at the company at that time. I made my pitch to my boss… I’ll continue to manage the group, get my work done and you can pay me less (I’ll work 30 hours a week). In return, I’ll manage my own schedule. He didn’t want to say yes but I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. (Well he could have but he had a daughter my age..etc.) My aha moment was not getting the green light to test this new idea, which I did… the aha moment was the incredible push-back I got from my colleagues; particularly women.
Take-away: Be clear about your priorities and don’t let anyone stand in your way. I decided that the push-back came from inside these people. They were jealous that I was ‘brave’ enough to do something so radical (haha, radical).
2) Jumping off a cliff – When I left that same large corporation during a down-sizing (I was made an offer.. go back to full time or leave the company) — I decided to leave and start a company. I was the single mother of 2 school-aged children. People thought I was crazy. What they didn’t know was that I was carefully plotting my career to be an entrepreneur. Every assignment I took inside the corporation was designed to teach me a skill I would be able to use in my future entrepreneurial adventure. So I jumped off the cliff and started a company. It worked for about 2 years and then 9/11 happened and all our customer’s funding dried up.
Take-away: If you wait until everything is perfect, until you know what you’re going to do, until you’re certain… you’ll never jump. Some people are born to jump, some people aren’t. Don’t waste your time wishing you were one or the other. Know yourself and take the risks that make your life meaningful.
Live for today… the sun is shining, you can walk, talk, eat, smell, smile, see — but pay attention to your tomorrow. Don’t listen to others when they tell you — you can’t and leap when the leaping feels right. I sleep well at night and look in the mirror with a quiet confidence. I can always improve myself. But I can happily say; I didn’t let fear get interfere with doing it my way.
Image credit – GE Pinterest Board -That’s Genius – Thomas Edison
I like Entrepreneur magazine because it’s so full of fire and promise. If you hate your job… I understand. I’ve been there and I admit, I stayed too long reasons we all have… a family to provide for, paying my mortgage, etc. Boring, real-life responsibilities. But and this is a big BUT… we can take steps to be ready to make a change and be committed to acting as a role model for our children… no matter how old we are.
How to Find Work You Truly Love is an inspiration to all of us (especially since every job is temporary).
1) Hang around people who love their work. If you don’t know anyone who loves their work… I mean LOVES their work… not just satisfied and glad to have a paycheck… but jumps out of bed for the excitement of what’s the day’s work will bring… then you need to network and keep networking until you find them. They might be musicians, entrepreneurs, software people, CEO’s –who knows. Ask people, do you love your work? You’ll know in 10 seconds; their eyes will light up, they’ll start gesturing and smiling… Ask them… how did you find this work?
2) Try and then try again and then try again. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And even more importantly, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Never give up.
Don’t compare yourself with famous people, compare yourself with previous versions of yourself. Do you know yourself better? Are you having more fun? Are you kind to others?
Does your work meet at least 2 of these 3 criteria… are you learning, are you appreciated? are you having fun? More on this in a future post.
Photo Credit: Koul In Jail Anirudh Koul
I have one special gift, I have a good ‘ear’…I can’t sing …but I can recognize and imitate sounds. This is why I studied languages in college. I started taking French in 3rd grade and then studied German and Spanish in college. I loved learning about culture through understanding the language. I had a chance to read Victor Hugo, Franz Kafka and Gabriel Garcia Marquez in their original languages. Let me assure you that there are MANY things that don’t translate from one language to another. We Americans think our language is sophisticated– in the sense that we accommodate words from all kinds of other languages. However, just like us as a nation, it is young and immature — with all the good and bad things that flow from that.
When I came across this article: How Do You Say…? For Some Words There is No Translation – I loved the idea and examples. I especially appreciated…
Swahili: Tuko pajoma -Denotes a shared sense of purpose and motivation in a group. It transcends mere agreement and implies empathetic understanding, or “We are together.”
As we move forward into this unknown and unknowable future.. let us remember Tuko pajoma. We have a shared sense of purpose and motivation… and that is to help one another, to find our way together and to learn and grow. This takes a conscious effort and I am glad you’re on this journey with me. I couldn’t do it without you.
Heiwa no tabi suru May peace be your journey.
Image credit: How do you say…
The number one most common mistake at a job interview is:
failing to ask for the job*
WOW! Imagine if this is true. I took a few moments to think about how many times I wanted something– and walked away wondering why I didn’t get it and guess what I realized, more often than not, it was probably my own fault.
I didn’t open my mouth and say, “I’d like.. that job, that favor, that ‘whatever’…” but my own stubbornness or low self esteem or cowardice (ok, that’s a little strong) prevented me from getting what I wanted.
If in fact I want the job, why don’t I ask for it?
And if I want to be sure to get what I want, how do I get better at asking? The answer is; I practice. I practice asking for what I want. This requires me to know what I want. With some of us that’s the first step. Some people are completely clear about what they want (and some go to a lot of trouble to make sure EVERYONE knows and delivers). If you always are very clear about what you want and don’t have a problem asking for it.. then this post isn’t for you. But feel free to leave a comment!
However, if you are someone who generally knows what you want but sometimes hesitate to ask for it; I want you to stop and think about why that is.
Because every job is temporary.. we all need to be able to look for work and understand how our skills match a potential employer — efficiently and effectively. That includes opening our mouths and asking for the job when we find it. The worst that can happen is — we are told no. It may not be fun to hear no, but it’s better to hear no than silence. You can’t get a hit if you don’t swing the bat. You can do it.
Photo credit: brokenchopstick
*resource = How Interviewers Know
“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful – be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices and protect your work. And if you build a good name, eventually, that name will be its own currency.”
Who wrote this? Take a guess. (play Jeopardy theme song here).
If you guessed someone famous.. you were right, almost. Patti Smith is a musician, poet, visual artist. She co-wrote “Because the Night” with Bruce Springsteen. (You’ve probably heard of him… do you think the boss subscribes to Patti’s philosophy? – I do.)
So what is Patti encouraging us to do?
- Build and protect your brand (name). Think of this in Patti’s context.. a woman in rock in 1975. Imagine how immensely talented and strong she is and what decisions both personal and artistic she needed to make to stand by this.
- Do good work. Yeah, that means working hard, taking risks, being bold when you may not want to.
- Protect your work. For the non-artist, I take this to mean be conscious of your work product and own it with pride.
- Make the right choices. “Right” choices tend to be harder and require thought and effort. That’s why so many of us make ‘wrong’ ones.
- Your name will be its own currency. In the new world of social… you can control/influence the value of your name tremendously. But you need to pay attention. It does not happen by accident.
For all of you saying, my name will never be ‘currency’ – I feel sorry for you. The ship has sailed and you missed it.
By the way, if you judge this book by it’s cover… you’re missing something great.
“When you have to sell ugly, sell the result.” **
You know the expression, “a face only a mother could love”? This little piggy is beautiful in her mother’s eyes. The good news is, we’re all beautiful to someone. “Selling ugly” means selling something that, on the surface… doesn’t seem great.
Selling sexy is easy; selling results is hard. If you spend more time understanding what the ‘customer’ (potential employer, someone who’s buying what you’re selling, etc.) needs… it will be more reasonable to assess your strengths versus that end.
In life, we all have those moments of doubt… when you and I need to convince someone (including ourselves!) that we’re wayyyyy more attractive than we might appear at first glance. In this case, we need to sell on the results we can deliver – not on our outward appearance. Maybe our experience isn’t a perfect fit for the job that’s open. Maybe we think we have too much or not enough education. Maybe we think we’re not pretty, thin or rich enough… whatever.
The truth is you are a perfect fit for someone, someplace. The question is, do you understand what you can DELIVER? Can you be more fun, more creative, more interesting? Can you design it, deliver it? Can you hit sales targets, hire better, add integrity? What goal do you have and does that goal match the person/organization you are trying to sell?
Even if we’re not quite as difficult a sell as the hairy pig… focusing on results will nearly always get us closer to the prize.
** thanks to Chris Brogan
Photo credit: Hairy Pig JLplusAL