Posts tagged: confidence

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

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

The Art and Joy of Self Reliance

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” Emerson

When we’re kids, we think we’re cool and you know what… we are.

Then we “learn” how to fit in. We lose our uniqueness.

What happens?

The process of becoming a grown up can be brutal. We try to fit in with groups because we feel lost and alone. We think people don’t understand us but the truth is, we don’t understand ourselves.

The good news about being ‘grown’ up is that we, hopefully, come to know ourselves enough to learn to trust and believe in ourselves. To stand on our own, to earn our way.

Do you still look to others for approval? Or do you look in the mirror and think.. yeah. I’m ok. Just the way I am.  Fitting in can feel good but it feels even better to know who we are and believe in ourselves no matter what other people think. Care about ‘them’ less and your uniqueness more. After all, in the end, you’re all you’ve got.

Image credit: Homemade Spidey Costume

Confront Your Shark

In the article, “10 Navy Seal Life Lessons You Can Use Everyday,” Navy Seal Admiral W. H. McRaven shows us how to train like a seal. One of the 10 lessons is to “confront your daily shark.” Wow, really. I don’t want to. That’s why it’s a shark; it’s big, dangerous, mysterious, overwhelming.

In truth, some sharks are overwhelming. But many sharks are sharks – only to us. To others they are simply bosses, bullies, relatives – whoever intimidates and makes us feel smaller than we are.

I can’t tell you what you to do, but I can tell you what I did. I went through a bad, awful, terrible divorce. Specifics aside, I can tell you there were many times when I felt I couldn’t keep going. I wanted to give up and give in. I had grownup with alcoholic parents, was always taking care of other people (mom, little brother, chronically ill older sister) and I had a poor sense of myself as a strong, confident person. So when this ‘challenge’ arose in my life, I was more than shaken to my (already shaky) core.

Here’s what I did:

1) Got a physical and communicated regularly with my doctor

2) Exercised regularly

3) Talked and talked and talked.. thank you to everyone who listened

4) Tried to have fun whenever I could (I wasn’t great at this to begin with and … still not good at it)

5) Worked to change the “tapes” playing in my head that told me, I couldn’t, shouldn’t, wasn’t strong enough, smart enough, etc.

6) I focused on ‘the prize’ – what I wanted as an end result

7) Listened to inspirational (rock n roll songs) like:

Already Gone – Eagles

So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key

You Gotta Be -Des’ree
You gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm
 What are your favorites inspirational songs? Share them and what you’ve done to ‘confront your shark.” Go get ‘em!

Photo Credit: 3D Shark Will Ellis

The Creative Journey… What About the Money?

“Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.” Hugh MacLeod

This post is dedicated to my daughter, Jenna aka Jenna Marbles, the YouTuber. (If you know a girl between the ages of 13 and 20, they probably know her.)  Here’s a  NY Times article about her.

Jenna has always been a free spirit who found a way to cope with ‘regular’ life. She made some videos in high school, but she wasn’t a ‘theater kid’ and never had aspirations of ‘fame’ that I know of. So when her video, “How to Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking” (warning language) got 5 million views in its first week, you could say she ‘stumbled’ into making videos for a living.

The fact that she single handedly writes, films, stars in, edits and uploads a new video every week (and has for 4+ year) is amazing. SHE HAS NEVER MISSED A WEEK — that’s 215 video in 215 weeks! 1.5 Billion views. Many people think what she does is easy. Try producing original content every week for 215 weeks. But there’s a story beyond that, that’s even more impressive (besides how much she cares about the people who support her.)

She understands who she is and what she wants. In the quote above, MacLeod talks about how money influences art. Jenna wants creative control and isn’t willing to let the bullshit run her life.

I am immensely proud of her for that.

Starting a Business… Founders Reflect

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As some of you know I am expanding the focus of this blog to include the start up experience.

According to this article in Fortune, the #1 reason founders think their company failed (by a big margin) is that there was no market need.

I am 30+ years in business, many of them working with start ups  and this problem is widespread in start ups. The good news is that the people who tried, learned. The bad news is that a lot of effort goes in to creating a company or a product. With some discipline, this problem can be eliminated.

I have seen so many “technology-push” solutions… i.e. “oh we’ve got this great widget, it’s so cool. Everyone will want one.” But then (shock), everyone doesn’t want one.

I have spent years sizing markets (especially for new categories/products), understanding customer needs and developing “go-to market strategies.” There are experienced people to help you determine the size of and how to approach the market. Please ask. Here’s a local resource and a national one.

Image credit: Fortune