Posts tagged: life changes

Are You Loved or Hated, Success Guarantees Both

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If you don’t know James Altucher, I recommend that you check him out. He’s one of my favorite thinkers/truth tellers. I may not agree with everything he says, but I respect his ability to see the world … and translate reality into words that help me acknowledge changes, even (and especially) when I really don’t want to.

Choose Yourself

Here’s the write up on his book, “Choose Yourself“.

The world is changing. Markets have crashed. Jobs have disappeared. Industries have been disrupted and are being remade before our eyes. Everything we aspired to for “security,” everything we thought was “safe,” no longer is: College. Employment. Retirement. Government.  No longer is someone coming to hire you, to invest in your company, to sign you, to pick you. It’s on you to make the most important decision in your life: Choose Yourself.

This is scary stuff. You mean, if my kids go to college and work hard, they might not get a good job? Maybe this reality doesn’t surprise you. Maybe your family knows this first hand, maybe your neighbor or your work colleague. Altucher tells us that:

New tools and economic forces have emerged to make it possible for individuals to create art, make millions of dollars and change the world without “help.”

But How?

There are people out there doing just that. I hear a lot of negative things about 20-somethings. They don’t ‘fit in’ the workplace. They don’t have a good ‘work ethic’. Look at the You Tubers ** and social entrepreneurs,  two examples of how to do it differently. But more importantly, look at all the people who are ‘doing it their own way.’ There’s not a formula, not a single path to finding this ‘freedom’. What we know is that disruption is a way of life for us. And we can either complain about it or we can capitalize on it. For more inspiration, read this story about a young man who went his own way.

Approval

The biggest problem with going my own way is that there isn’t anyone outside myself saying, “good job.” There’s no boss. Families often don’t understand what we are doing when we don’t conform to the “old way.”  We don’t get society’s approval of our path. The ‘good’ way is to go to high school, go to college, get a job, get married, etc. Many of us don’t fit that mold. And somehow, we need to understand that whether we succeed (whatever that means) or fail, if you walk the road less traveled… you make people uncomfortable. People are afraid of what challenges their security. If you need approval, you’ll probably have an unsettled time. If you don’t need approval, welcome to the club. I approve of your journey… and I hope you’ll approve of mine.

** Full disclosure – My daughter Jenna Marbles is featured in this video.

Ch-Ch-Changes

When I was young, my dysfunctional family made daily life very chaotic. While I wouldn’t wish that type of churning nuttiness on anyone, it did several positive things for me. One was that it made me adaptable. I certainly wasn’t going to have things my way, so I had to learn to go along and get along.

I remember reading this:

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Creating Change Makes It Easier to Manage

I knew that the best thing I could do, was always be ready to change. To always be looking for a way to improve and create something better. This way, change wasn’t thrust upon me. I noticed that when change happened TO me, I was resentful. But if I was part of the change process, I was ok, even joyful at the chance to try something different. I learned to be somewhat of a ‘victim’ from some people in my family. It’s a most unattractive and problematic position to be in. The victim doesn’t have to do anything, the victim can just blame someone else. But even true victims need to be responsible for taking actions towards their own healing.

Turn and Face The Strain

If you’re out of practice with creating change, try these:

  1. Practice daily gratitude. I kept a gratitude journal for about a year. Everyday I wrote down 5 things I was grateful for. The habit of focusing on all the positive things in my life (my eye sight, ability to walk, breathe, laugh) became second nature.
  2. Find a way to meet new people. I know, I hate this idea but when I do, I learn so many things about myself. The easiest way for me to meet new people is by volunteering.
  3. Stop acting and being so grown up. If you have a chance to be around small children, do it. If not, look at things the way a small child would. Stop being all “judgy” and prissy. Act like a fool. Who care if someone sees you? They’ll just be jealous anyway.

What are your favorite ways to help create change in your life? Look out you rock n’ rollers…

Image Credit: David Bowie Masayoshi Sukita

Self Respect and the Joy of Self Reliance

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“The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life — this is the source from which self-respect springs.” Joan Didion Slouching Towards Bethlehem

But I Don’t Want To…

I hate discipline. I mean, I like it and appreciate it and then again, I loathe it. Why do I have to do so many things I don’t want to do? Dishes, listening, talking to strangers, doing my job? Why can’t I just do what I want, right?

The Journey to Self Respect

Maybe I can get self respect from having stuff, maybe I can get it from other people’s admiration of me (fame, money, position), maybe I can get it from ______ (fill in the blank). I can only speak for myself:  there is a direct line from discipline and self reliance to my self respect. There’s a Billie Holiday song, “God Bless the Child (listen here)” with these lyrics;

Money, you’ve got lots of friends
They’re crowding around your door
But when you’re gone and spending ends
They don’t come no more
Rich relations give crusts of bread and such
You can help yourself, but don’t take too much
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own, that’s got his own

The Struggle Is Real…Really

Sometimes I think we’ve forgotten what it’s really like to struggle. We have less money to spend on clothes or going out to eat so we’re upset. But we are not Syrians or Southern Sudanese where bombs drop on our homes every day. Most of us don’t want for food or shelter. In the most privileged country in the world, we still feel entitled to complain. This is not to take away from real problems and struggles of abuse, poverty, equality. We must fight to improve how we help and change the world.

People ask me how I raised my children to care about the world and not be materialistic. I hope I taught them to value experiences over things, to value a person and their dignity over, well, maybe anything. I have a long way to go in improving myself. I’m happy to report it’s a life long journey. I’ll let this serve as a reminder to myself to pay attention to my own ability to depend on myself and the joy and serenity that brings.

Image credit: Picture Quotes

Billie Holiday lyrics: God Bless The Child

Perfectionism Is Slow Death

“ If everything were to turn out just like i would want it to, just like i would plan for it to, then i would never experience anything new; my life would be an endless repetition of stale successes. When i make a mistake, i experience something unexpected…. when i have listened to my mistakes i have grown.Hugh Prather

When I was a young professional, someone gave me this Hugh Prather quote. I didn’t think of myself as a perfectionist but apparently I needed to learn the difference between striving for and insisting upon. The striving is good, the insisting is not. The reality is that if don’t strive for ‘our best’ (perfection?) then we are settling for something less than. Striving is good, freaking out when we’re not ‘perfect’ is not.

I’m not sure what made me think that being perfect was a requirement. That somehow if I weren’t perfect, I would be let go, fired, disliked, not respected. Worst of all, that I would myself and others down. It took me a long time to let go of control. I finally saw the correlation between wanting to control things and thinking things had to be perfect (hmm, in my case that meant it had to be done my way.)

Fortunately for me, I found wonderful mentors who helped me to lighten up and let go. To work to let other people learn and grow. Perfectionism (and wanting to control everything) is slow death… of your spirit and your joy. Let it go.

Image credit: Hugh Prather Quotes

Embracing the Mess

blogged at <a href="http://www.johnmundell.com/2008/02/11/kids-in-restaurant/">www.johnmundell.com/2008/02/11/kids-in-restaurant/</a> blogged at <a href="http://www.harrowdrive.com/">www.harrowdrive.com/</a...

“Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” Elizabeth Gilbert

“Doggone It, People Like Me” Jack Handey

I spent a lot of my younger years thinking that I was crazy, a mess, not that bright… very negative self talk. It took me many years to realize that everyone is a ‘hot mess’. That being a gloppy, bumpy, goofy, awkward human means that I am alive. That I am taking risks, putting myself out there, getting my hands dirty.

And that’s how it should be.

Change Your Self-Talk

So if you think of yourself as a mess, you’re probably doing it right. Work on changing your negative self talk to something positive:

  • Lighten up
  • It’s all good
  • I am enough (I used this affirmation for years)
  • Other people feel as awkward as I do (believe me, 95% of people do)
  • Easy does it
  • How important is it?

These days, I say, “it’s all good” nearly every day. The things I used to spend hours worrying about either never happened or whatever DID happen, I never could have predicted or prepared for.  Sure there are lots of things that happen in the world that are not “all good”- e.g. war, abuse and hunger. Today, I work to figure out what can I do something about and then do it. The rest of my awkward, weird, silly, ridiculous, lazy, lame and ludicrous self… I give her a pass.

Image credit: Enjoying the cake  Hoyasmeg

Job at Google? No Thanks.

Google, The Holy Grail of Employers

A lot has been written about interviewing and working at Google. William Poundstone has a book. Here’s an article from the NY Times, and there are probably hundreds more. My question is, what do you give up when you work at a big (50k + employees) company? (I worked 17 years at Eastman Kodak, 120K employees.)

Free food, dry cleaning,  onsite child care, convenient transportation, gyms etc.  The free sushi may flow, in some offices you can bring your dog and when you tell people you work at Google, they say wow, good for you. The list of benefits is long and generous. Only a company with huge margins could afford to offer all these.

Do Perks and Prestige Kill Innovation?

But my question is, what can you really accomplish (vs. working at a smaller company)? I know first hand the benefit of all the training and rubbing elbows with really bright people. I also know how much inertia a large corporation generates. The very thing that builds the company, is what holds it back.

Besides search, where has Google, with all it’s billions, really innovated? (I’ll give them Google Earth/Maps). They have tried in vain to create a Face Book competitor (think of Google Friend Connect, Google Wave, Google +, etc.) They have spent years trying to crack the way ‘people’ connect… and they haven’t succeeded yet.

What About YouTube?

One could make a case for YouTube. It brings people together to share, but I would suggest that YouTube’s ‘socialness’  is purely technical.

There have been almost no improvement in the interaction/social aspects of YouTube. Commenting is just as linear and lame as it’s always been. There’s no way to see comments in the context of the where it might be relevant in the video. Every time they come out with an “upgrade”, I think oh, good, they’re finally going to improve the viewers experience. But no, the upgrades make things easier for YouTube.

Look, if you want to work at Google, great. I wish you well and I know you’ll meet lots of smart, interesting people. If you want to really use all parts of your brain and general capacity… then I hope you aim for a smaller company. Let me know how it’s going, wherever you work.

Photo Credit: William Poundstone

Live Gently, Let Go Gracefully

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Ugh, it’s hard to be gentle and graceful when the world makes me mad. And it’s especially hard to let go of things that I think I want or keep me comfortable.

Live Gently

  1.  For me, it means, walking and talking softly. I have a very loud voice. I talk fast and with enthusiasm. I overwhelm some people. So I work on slowing down, quieting down, think of my edges as being rounded not square.
  2. I try not to accumulate a lot of ‘stuff’; I prefer experiences.
  3. Reacting to other people’s perceptions of me is a waste of time. The core of who I am is (I hope) unassailable.

Let Go Gracefully

Really? This is not my strong suit. If you’ve come into the orbit of my life then I think it’s my job to help you. But many people come and go and don’t need anything from me. They need a smile, maybe a kind word.

  1. If I am struggling with something or someone, that’s because I have not accepted “it” as it is. I want to change it, shape it or fix it.
  2. I have had particular struggles letting go at work. When money is concerned, I tend to be rigid, fearful. This comes from growing up poor.
  3. Change is hard. If I can create the change, then it’s easier for me to accept (I’m more graceful?) But when it is imposed on me, my back goes up. Letting go of what I know or believe is like bleeding. I’m right; when in truth, I may be wrong.

In the search for serenity (note: as distinct from happiness), walking softly and letting go gracefully are key.

Image Credit: Buddha Quotes

Oh, Oh… I Got Fired

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Oh, Oh… I Got Fired

If you’ve been fired in the past year or two and it was your first time, you might still feel bad about it. I was fired 3 times (well, technically fired twice and laid off once). The first time, I worked in a shoe store in high school. They wanted me to recommend other stuff when people bought shoes. Couldn’t do it. So, I was fired. The next time,  I had been promised by my boss’s boss that things would change in the workplace…they didn’t change, I was insubordinate. The third time, I had pre-negotiated a leave date so technically it was a lay off. (I was never fired for cause!)

The first time I was devastated. The second time I thought the world would end. The third time was, no big deal. Every time I left a job involuntarily, something better turned up next.

I’m In Good Company

For inspiration, glance at this article, “21 Great Successes Who Got Fired.” The list is pretty impressive …

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Walt Disney
  • Truman Capote
  • Lady Gaga

The list of athletes who failed is long but one stands out… Michael Jordan. He was cut from his high school basketball team. Think about Jennifer Hudson. An American Idol loser who went on to win Oscar.

Whatever is happening with you right now, know that good things are going to happen for you. Hold on for one more day. I believe in you.

Image credit: Getting Fired: A Blessing

The Beauty of the Winter Garden

It’s Not Beautiful, It’s Dead

In the middle of winter, we think about the green of summer, the abundance of the garden, the color of the flowers and wish that things were different. We forget to look at the garden as beautiful. If we take a few minutes and look carefully, we’ll see many unexpected things. First, we’ll see more shades of white, black and gray than we thought possible. We’ll see the outline of things that are blocked by the leaves and greenery. We might notice the hardiness of the evergreen or the way grasses turn brown and yet still blow in the wind. But we must pay attention to see these things.

It’s Dead and It’s Beautiful

Just like in life, we might dismiss a person who doesn’t seem to ‘fit’ the way we think they should or we might miss the importance of kindness in everyday life. If kindness is the stem and roots, then it will be present no matter the season.  The joy of appreciating the winter garden is that it teaches us to appreciate our days in all their phases – happy, sad, structured, confusing, etc. . Think about how the winter garden shows us how to accept wherever we are and even find joy and beauty there.

Photo credit: Winter Garden  Ms. Lea

Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) Makes Everything Worse

When I find myself stressed, I try to remember to check for these 4 things before I do or say anything else.

Hungry

I’m not good when I’m hungry. I can get snippy and rude. It’s not my intention, but it happens. I’ve learned over the years to keep a granola bar or some nuts with me so I don’t snap. I love chocolate but I find if I eat candy, that only helps for a little while, then I crash and feel worse. If I check my hunger first, it’s easier for me to check on the other triggers.

Angry

For people living with dysfunction, this is a constant. Growing up with alcoholics, I found comfort in chaos. I know this sounds strange but it’s what I knew best so when things were calm, I was uncomfortable.  I was angry at circumstances outside of my control. I didn’t know how to channel my energy into positive actions. Fortunately, I got help and learned to recognize this behavior. A lot of my anger was ‘stuffed’ down because ‘girls’ aren’t supposed to get angry. It’s not ladylike  (I hate that expression). So what’s a person to do with all those negative feelings? Some of us turn them on ourselves by eating, drinking alcohol, drugs, starving, whatever… to help us forget, to help us cope. But none of those help us process our anger and figure out how to move forward. I learned to beat the bed with a tennis racket, scream as loud as I can, put on loud music and dance around, throw plastic containers at the wall (gratifyingly noisy without any serious cleanup.)

Lonely

This one is easy to recognize and harder (in my opinion) to solve. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting out and being with people, even strangers. But most of the time, loneliness is cured by being with someone who really cares about me and who knows how to show it. This can be hard to find. I had to write down, on paper, the names of people that I could turn to when I was lonely. Why? Because in my mind, I was alone. The list helped to remind me that there were people and I could call them just to say hi, listen to their voices and feel better.

Tired

This is alternatively the easiest and the hardest to resolve. Chronic tiredness is normal in modern living.  So the easy thing to do is to just stop and rest. The hard thing to do is to figure out how to get everything done and still have time to rest. I have no suggestions. We each have to find our own way.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, think of HALT, hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Check each one and see what you can do to address these BEFORE you respond to the boss, your peer, your spouse, your child, etc. Teach your kids about H.A.L.T. It’s a life skill that provides life long benefits.

Image credit: windowlight