Posts tagged: strengths

Are You Cool?

What makes someone cool?

It depends on many things: our stage of life, our interests, etc. For me,  Steve McQueen (the actor in the photo) was Mr. Cool. Fast cars (Bullitt), motorcycles, independent, handsome, tough.

I think that cool relates to 3 things:

  1. Self-awareness – how well do I know myself, my shortcomings and strengths. This takes real effort for most of us. It’s easier just to be oblivious.
  2. Self- asssuredness – this isn’t related to ego, it’s related to believing in our selves long after it’s reasonable (multiple failures!)
  3. Self-compassion – do I know how to make amends to those I hurt and by extension, do I forgive myself when I make a mistake?

These 3 attributes help us lead, follow, be resilient, learn, grow, change and adapt – they help me to be independent. I like to be independent. More importantly and perhaps counter-intuitively, it make more compassionate towards others.

I think people who accept themselves, are cool. I think people who don’t think they’re cool, are often, cool. People who understand that what makes them different from everyone else, cool.

One last thing, I also think accepting responsibility is cool. When I do something that doesn’t reflect well on myself, I hate to admit it. I learned, through much pain, that it’s better to just own it. As quickly as I can. That’s one thing that makes me cool.

Cool can be about they way someone dresses or talks… but really, it’s much more about their attitude; towards themselves and by extension, towards others.

So my friend, what makes someone cool in your eyes?

Photo Credit: Steve McQueen  Barbour

Anything Worthwhile Will Take a Long Time

We live in a hurry-up world so I think it’s discouraging for many of us that the world is not a ‘better’ place.  We feel helpless when we don’t know what to do to fix things.  This is a reflection of how much information we have about the 7 BILLION people who live on our planet. 100 years ago, we knew a lot about our block but not that much about the next city, state or country. Positive change requires effort and patience. To highlight this, think about; “Presence is far more intricate and rewarding … than productivity.” We focus a lot on productivity (I’m all for that) … I’m suggesting we spend time thinking about how we present ourselves in the world.

The reality is we may be limited in our ability to change things quickly, but there are things we can do:

  1. improve our personal awareness (strengths,weaknesses)
  2. establish a personal presence that truly reflects our values and unique perspective (without being rigid)
  3. have faith in ourselves
  4. take small steps towards improving the world – get involved in something!
  5. listen more, talk less
  6. be kind

For today, maybe you could read something that takes some effort and reach out to someone who needs support. Other than being present for those you love, do what you are called to do today. If you’re not sure, you might just need to be quiet and be patient. Two things we are short on in this hurry-up world.

I found the quote in the picture in an article titled,  7 Life Long Learnings from 7 Years of Brain Picking. Check out Brain Pickings.

Do you know Debbie Millman? She’s a writer, educator, artist, brand consultant and host of a radio/podcast show Design Matters. Check her out too.

photo credit: Israel Smith

You’re A Genius … In Your Own Way

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Everyone is gifted, but some people never open their package...” Anonymous

Albert Einstein (the inventor of the bed head hairdo) is a recognized worldwide as a genius. Reading through his life story, you will see that he was pretty “flaky.” But in his field, there was no one more advanced. Did he know he was a genius? Did he fret about all the things he couldn’t do?

Each of us is a bit like him. It’s always easier to see the ‘spark of genius’ in others. He’s such a leader, she’s so athletic, he’s a great cook, etc.

In the Nine Different Types of Intelligence, I see myself in a couple of categories. I look forward to using this list to remind myself of ‘where I shine.’

Some are better known:

  • Logical//Mathematical – Beep… I missed this train although I do pride myself on my common sense. Math.. not so much.
  • Spatial – Yeah, you know, people who can see things in pictures when the rest of us are standing there going huh?
  • Linguistic – Ok, now we’re talking… cross word puzzles, writing, reading… yeah, I finally get one!
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic – Also known as athletic, you know that person… they are graceful on land, on sea, in the air. (Nope not me)
  • Musical – I think this is the most interesting one because music is cultural. What sounds like music to Tibetan or Japanese might sound odd to Western ears. I think this one deserves wide application. (I know a lot of song lyrics… does that count?)

Here are a few less common ones that I like:

  • Naturalistic – people who connect with animals… my daughter Jenna is one of those people. Animals, any animal, gravitate to her like she’s bacon.
  • Interpersonal – people who ‘get’ other people… and can sense the mood and temperament of others and adjust.

Here are some I just made up (but are probably on other lists):

  • Mechanical – yeah, I missed this train
  • Geo-spatial – my gyroscope is and always has been broken
  • Cooking/gardening- this might sound funny and maybe it’s baked into one of these others but don’t you know someone who just does these things naturally and always has? -This doesn’t mean gourmet or fancy. It’s just that they shine.
  • Color – My brother is a color expert.

I’m sure the list could go on and on. My point is that’s not important which of these you have, only that you recognize which ones and celebrate them, Just for today, pick one, even if you’re not 100% sure you’re a genius in it, and praise yourself.

False modesty serves no one. Enjoy your gifts, whether society appreciates them or not. They are what make you, you. The world needs you just the way you are.

Photo credit: Albert Einstein

I Hate Being A GrownUp

One of the good things about about being a grown up is that you get to choose when you act/think like a kid. The problem is that many of us never choose that path, even for a few minutes. Once we’re grown up, we think it’s wrong to be silly or color outside the lines. This is a shame.

The older we get the more invested we are in ‘the same'; what Seth Godin calls lizard brain. Our prehistoric need to stay in the cave, “to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise.”

The idea is to live our lives according to what we (and our loved ones) need at the time.  This doesn’t mean I have to work at this job or this career forever. Just right now.

People forget this. They also forget that they can change their minds. I am not recommending arbitrarily job hopping. But trying several different paths to build skills and ‘try things on’ is a legitimate path – AT ANY AGE.

The problem is the judgement of other people, specifically our fear of it. When I requested and got approval (in 1984) to manage my team while working part time, many of my colleagues were upset. Here’s what they said; “why does she get to?” “she can’t be serious about your career” and my favorite “I wish I could do that.” Blah, blah, blah. I showed them how to do it, they were too afraid. That’s cool. You do it your way and I’ll do it mine.

But if you think you can go your own way and not face judgement from others, stop. it. right. now. Accept the fact that for whatever human reason, the pack doesn’t like lone wolves. If you choose a path that isn’t like everyone else’s, people are going to be upset and many will let you know.

Insofar as you can (and still pay your bills) stop thinking/worrying about what everyone else wants/thinks. You will NEVER please everyone so you might as well please yourself.  For me, this was a tough lesson, but once I learned it… I was free forever.

It’s hell in the hallway but the difficulty doesn’t last forever. But when you’re in the hallway… it sure feels like it will.

Want a laugh? check out my daughter Jenna’s take on ‘grownuphood” (alert: fbombs & other foul language included)

Photo credit: Why Do We Work?

 

Creating Work You Love (Sounds Scary or Ridiculous)

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Why am I an entrepreneur? “We’ve made the decision to let you go,” my boss said over the telephone.  I was shocked and upset.That was, the first time.

The second time I was let go, not so much. By the third time I said to myself, “Never again.” I am not going to put myself in a position where how I earn my living is dictated by someone else’s priorities.

I learned to work hard when I was young and frankly, since I’m a Baby Boomer, being a workaholic is normal and I always wanted my own business. I remember more than one person saying to me, you can’t start a company (you girl, you), what could you possibly do? As angry as I was at them, I used the anger to motivate me.

Assessing the possibilities I had a bunch of skills, foreign languages, marketing, healthcare, blah, blah, blah. They didn’t really fit together into a solid plan for earning a living being an entrepreneur. So I devised a three pronged strategy for creating income.

1) Teaching

2) Speaking and workshops

3) Consulting

Getting started I met with a lot of people and talked about my idea. Some nodded, “Hmmmm, I could see them thinking, she’ll never make this work.”  Some tried to discourage me, “Get a job,” and a few encouraged me, “You can do it!”

I can report that 5 years in, I am doing better than I ever hoped. It isn’t what I expected and that’s not only good, it’s fun.

You can do it too.  So if you are wondering where your next job is going to come from… I will ask you this; what will it take for you to say, “Enough. I’m gonna try something different?  I can guarantee you will learn more in 1 year on your own path than you will in 5 years working for someone else. If, at any point,  you decide to go work for someone else, you’ll be even more valuable to that employer. You will be a better problem solver, see the big picture and actually empathize more with your boss in a different way.

But I can’t…. I have responsibilities   The first time I co-founded a start up I was the single mother of 2 kids, 14 and 12 with no family to help me. That start up only lasted 2 years, thanks to 9/11, but I learned so much and my actions showed my children how to go for what they want and to not be afraid.

Just Do It. Join millions of others who are finding a way to create meaningful, interesting work.

Photo credit: You Can Do It

Leadership: Handout or Hand Up?

As leaders do we see ourselves as coaches, mentors and teachers or as managers, bosses and the person “in-charge.” The distinction may be subtle but the influence you may have on people and the results you drive may not be subtle. In the book, “Leaders East Last,” (title derived from the Marine Corps where enlisted men always eat first), Simon Sinek says, “whether a leader puts themselves or their people first, determines if they are worthy of our love and loyalty. Leadership is a decision not a rank.”

Many people think that the ‘younger generation’ is lazy and entitled. I say every generation has this type of person. I see so many 20-30 somethings doing such great things; I hope you see them that way too. I loved this article, “Meet 6 Entrepreneurs Who Use Tech to Change the World.” Each young entrepreneur is doing something simple to solve a problem. My favorite is HandUp started by a young woman named Rose Broome.

“HandUp is direct giving for homeless people and others in need in your neighborhood. Your donations are redeemed for basic needs like food, clothing, and medical care through our partner organization Project Homeless Connect.”

Like all start ups, this one will have critics and bumps along the way. What I like is that Rose didn’t just give the homeless woman a dollar and forget her. She’s looking for a way to help stabilize her situation. It may be a handout right now, but hopefully a hand up is on it way too.

Photo credit: photo leroys

“Failure is a Process … You Have to Fail Over and Over”

“Failure is a process … you have to fail over and over and over again to get anything that’s worthwhile.” Jules Feiffer cartoonist

Feel like a failure? You’re actually winning. Watch this 40 second video about the power of failure. According to Mr. Feiffer, you need to continuously try new things and fail in order to create anything worthwhile. Think about raising children. If you think you didn’t fail over and over again… I suspect you are kidding yourself.

Think about nature. Evolution is a series of failures in order to find the best way forward: the flower that is drought resistant or the leaf that absorbs water more effectively.

I am teaching a new online course. Learning the software is driving me crazy. Just when I think I have learned something, it appears that I forget it. And this is happening live, in front of my students. Humbling to say the least.

Think of the last time you failed. Did you curl up in a ball? Did you try to deny it? Were you ashamed? This last is the worst of it. Failure is a sign that you are trying. If you can’t think of the last time you failed, then you are either not paying attention or you aren’t trying anything new. The old saying, nothing ventured, nothing gained, warns us to keep trying new things. To live fully we need to fall on faces from time to time.

Photo credit: Fig leaf John Leach

If you are unfamiliar with Jules Feiffer’s delightful cartoons (as well as the rest of his body of work), check him out.

 

 

What Can You ‘Give’ Your Children?

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I have two children; they are wonderful people. There are times when I wonder what I gave them. Oh, I think I was a good mother. I’m not questioning whether I gave them a good education or a nice home, but I wonder –  what did I pass on to them that they only could have received from me?

I love this quote from Thomas Edison. Whether you call it passion or enthusiasm – it is the “estate of incalculable value.” How does a parent pass this along?

There is really only one way. That is by example. What you do. Your behavior. How you spend your time. How you treat people. How you learn new things. How you accept the good and bad. Your precious time – how do you spend it? How do you act when you think no one is looking.

Are you excited to be alive? Are you grateful? Do you complain everyday about the weather, your boss, why you don’t have this and that?

Or do you focus on the beauty? the joy? the positive? the kind? Do you greet each day with an energy that says, “life is an adventure.”

Bring passion and energy to your children today and everyday. They might just thank you.

Image credit: Thomas Edison and GE That’s Genius Pinterest Board

Become a Connoisseur of Your Mistakes

“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.

Selling Ugly is Never Pretty

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“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