Dictionary.com has 28 different definitions to support that strength comes in many forms. For the longest time, I thought that being strong meant persevering, standing tall, doing the right thing no matter who's watching. Now, I believe there is more to it than that. Being strong is hard. It's persevering and living, standing tall and kneeling, doing the right thing no matter who's watching and no matter what other people think. No one knows your life, the decisions you are faced with making, the lengths you go to live to fight another day. Life is short; it is precious. We only get one shot at living, and I don't know about you, but I'm living it!
I am so grateful for the people in my life, having a great job that I love, and all the adventures I get to go on! I am strong. I am stronger than I thought. I am stronger than I ever thought possible in fact. Faced with situations, I never thought I would be in charge of, making decisions I don't know that I was even qualified to make.
There was a period when I was unsteady when I didn't trust myself, and I didn't trust others with what I considered flaws. The biggest lesson I think I've learned in the last few years is learning to be vulnerable, and that is no small feat. The only way I've found to be vulnerable requires having people in your life who truly love you unconditionally. People who are not competing with you, using you, benefiting from your misfortune, throwing you under the bus, criticizing your every move so that they don't have to assess themselves. The people who do those things are toxic, and they have no place in my life, not anymore that is.
At the end of the day when I have to look myself in the mirror, I know that I did everything that I could do to the best of my ability with the information I had at the time and that is good enough for me. Being strong means going to bed knowing all of those things, not questioning yourself. I haven't slept this well in a long time, and man is it amazing to get a good nights rest! I'm strong like Hulk!
From a speech that Teddy Roosevelt gave in 1910. This is my favorite part of what he said:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
What a powerful message, also the inspiration behind my new facebook cover photo!
While rereading Brene Brown's book "Braving the Wilderness" it struck me that I must write about part of her message, I couldn't agree more with all of this. Here is the excerpt:
“Here’s what I believe: 1. If you are offended or hurt when you hear Hillary Clinton or Maxine Waters called bitch, whore, or the c-word, you should be equally offended and hurt when you hear those same words used to describe Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, or Theresa May. 2. If you felt belittled when Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables” then you should have felt equally concerned when Eric Trump said “Democrats aren’t even human.” 3. When the president of the United States calls women dogs or talks about grabbing pussy, we should get chills down our spine and resistance flowing through our veins. When people call the president of the United States a pig, we should reject that language regardless of our politics and demand discourse that doesn’t make people subhuman. 4. When we hear people referred to as animals or aliens, we should immediately wonder, “Is this an attempt to reduce someone’s humanity so we can get away with hurting them or denying them basic human rights?” 5. If you’re offended by a meme of Trump Photoshopped to look like Hitler, then you shouldn’t have Obama Photoshopped to look like the Joker on your Facebook feed. There is a line. It’s etched from dignity. And raging, fearful people from the right and left are crossing it at unprecedented rates every single day. We must never tolerate dehumanization—the primary instrument of violence that has been used in every genocide recorded throughout history.” -Brene Brown
(visit her full article: brenebrown.com/blog/2018/05/17/dehumanizing-always-starts-with-language/)
In 2016 my world was unrecognizable. I unexpectedly lost my sister and before I could grieve, I lost my job. Shaken and unprepared, I had a choice. Let it destroy me or become a better version of myself. I couldn’t surrender but needed help. I started researching through books, videos, online courses. I rebuilt my resume, set the bar high and refused to settle. I accepted a job offer not for the pay raise but for it’s potential. Shortly after I started, my mom passed away. Leaving me as the only woman in my family. I didn’t think I’d make it but kept putting one foot in front of the other. Focusing on self-improvement, learned to be vulnerable, showed up and participated even when I didn’t want to. I bravely started asking for help when I needed it, seeking counsel from those who cared about me, picking up the phone when I knew I needed someone to talk to and the craziest thing happened. I somehow managed to reinvent myself while I was just trying to get through one day at a time. Sure, it is painful but there is so much still left out there that is wonderful and I had to fight my way through the hard parts so that I could see the beauty again. It is not a solo journey, and there is no destination, but I get to decide how I live it and I am a warrior because I've remade myself with hope.
PART 10: MY CAREER JOURNEY
I have a borderline obsession with watching TED Talks, I have a whole playlist on YouTube dedicated to my favorites. One of which talks about finding work you love at the intersection of your work responsibilities and what you are passionate about. How you probably aren't going to accept a position doing a job you love but if you take a good job with a good company, you can then mold it into work you love. Check it out below, it's worth your time!
Part 9: My Career Journey
Trust is complex. It's like a piggy bank, you make deposits and withdrawals but you have no idea the dollar amount each of them are worth because everyone values everything differently. You only know what value you assign to them.
When you start a new job you it can be overwhelming. You have to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the company and it's culture, learn how to do your actual job, get to know your co-workers and probably most importantly get to know your boss and his or her specific nuances.
If you were not in a great situation in your previous job you might even bring with you some biases, anxiety, or assumptions that you don't even realize you brought. I was so on edge when I first started at my current job that every time my boss would say he needed to talk to me I automatically thought I might be fired or at the minimum I was in hot water.
The only way that I know to get passed this is to cut yourself some slack and try hard not to jump to conclusions. Be patient because over time you will get to know your new boss and figure out how to best work with him and what to expect from him.
Part 8: My Career Journey
Life has been getting in the way of me writing blog posts. So I'm sorry for the delay!! Next in my series about my career journey is interview prep.
In my experience, if you are lucky enough to make it through the massive amount of resumes submitted for a job and get a chance to interview you should be as prepared as possible.
My advice is to google example interview questions and then practice answering them using the STAR method.
SITUATION Describe the situation you were in (from a previous job, volunteer work, or relevant event) be specific, no generalizations.
TASK What goal were you working toward?
ACTION Describe the actions you took (specific steps and your particular contribution). Focus on your actions rather than those of the team.
RESULT What were the outcomes of your actions?
Practicing this will bring past experiences to the front of your brain and give you a chance to find the best ones to use rather than trying to think back during your interview.
Other random pieces of advice, prepare so that you can walk in confident that there is not a question they will ask that you won't have an answer for. Do your very best not to come off as being desperate, walk in knowing that you have value to add and that you will be a great addition to anyone's team, its your decision on where you end up working.
That is all for now. I still have more posts before I'm finished with this little series so be sure to check back!
Part 7: My Career Journey
"Major life changes are never easy, because your instincts and the urgent matters of the day work against you. But when you learn to focus on your future self, you'll be surprised at what you can achieve." - Rebecca Webber, published May 6, 2014.
When I say "reinvent myself" I don't mean scrapping everything I've built, the network of contacts I've made and all the knowledge and skills I've acquired over the years. I mean change the way you think about yourself and the future of your career. Just like a car needs to be maintained, so do we.
Innovate has been a buzzword for a while now and it’s overused which means it’s lost some of its value. Many companies and many personal resumes claim to be innovative but innovation is hard. Everyone seems to define it differently but the common theme is to create something new or change something drastically. I think from time to time we need to try to look at what we do through a different lens and not just continue to do things the same way we’ve always done them because that leads to spending too much time on autopilot rather than active thinking. Our brains make assumptions that’s we aren’t even aware of many time a day, the only way to change that is to do something a little bit differently. Shake it up every now and then. You might be surprised at what you learn.
The rate at which things are changing continues to increase. Keep learning, have a growth mindset, and challenge yourself to do something new or in a different way.
Part 6: My Career Journey
Transferable skills are what you take with you across organizations, companies, industries. It can be challenging though to identify the most important ones, those worth mentioning and the not so important ones. And then how do you word them or make them work in a variety of scenarios?
Let's start with some common transferable skills:
Time Management Strategic
Public Speaking Change Agent
Interviewing Resource Allocation
Results Oriented Leadership
Team-building Problem Solving
It took me some time and creative thinking to think back through my life and work experiences, consider things I like to do and compare them to my strengths and weaknesses. The time and effort were well spent though because I learned some things about my self that I wasn't aware of before.
I identified my transferable skills to be: idea generation, adaptability, willingness to relate to others, strategic thinking and decision making, the ability to meet ever-changing needs (also known as being a change agent), a well-honed resilience working within time-critical environments, a persuasive and confident nature, and the ability to take command.
If you haven't identified your transferable skills, I challenge you to at least start thinking about them. You might not need the information immediately, but at some point, it could prove to be useful, I know it was for me!
Part 5: My Career Journey
After the shock wore off from losing my job and my confidence was nowhere to be found, I had to start somewhere. I read through the many versions of my resume found on my google drive, and when I realized that my resume could bore someone to tears, I had to take action. Out with the old and in with the new, I guess. There is a great book title that could be the motto for my life at the time, "What got you here won't get you there."
Change is hard, yet inevitable and the sooner you can learn to embrace it the better off you are. I quickly figured out that even the tools for which I would create my new resume were significantly different than I had initially used, talk about making me feel old! The natural starting place for me was to research what works and then tailor my credentials to comply.
I read several books and watched even more YouTube videos, searched for new templates and best practices. Did you know that you only have about 6 seconds to catch someone's eye when they are reading through a stack of resumes? The tool that helped me the most was the book "The Google Resume: How to Prepare for a Career and Land a Job at Apple, Microsoft, Google, or any other Top Tech Company."
Doing research and educating myself to prepare for a new adventure was the most comfortable I would find myself before landing a new job, and there was still quite a bit of work to do before that would happen.
Part 4: My Career Journey
If I could go back to the day I was let go; I would tell myself to thank them for doing me such a huge favor. Then I would remind myself that this is not the worst thing I will ever endure.
I walked away genuinely feeling like I had let everyone down, that there was something wrong with me. After having a chance to reflect though, I wasn't the problem. Not me as a person anyway.
I wasn't a good fit for the job, and the position was a terrible fit for me, but I probably would've stayed there and tried to make it work for who knows how long.
They honestly did do me a favor by letting me go. I just didn't know how awesome it would be to reinvent myself until later.
Part 3: My Career Journey
Desperate times have a way of convincing you to enact desperate measures, but that won't get you what you want. The point at which you feel most vulnerable is also the moment you must dig deep within yourself and find out what you are really made of.
Depending on what your career progression plan looks like and the industry you work in, your options might vary from one end of the spectrum to the other. For me, I had choices, but none of them were appealing. In fact, they could easily be categorized as a step down from where I was.
With the support of great family and friends, paired with a lot of self-reflection I was able to tap into my inner badassery and came up with a list of what I was willing to accept and what I absolutely would not settle for.
The scary part for me was declining job offers with no other ones on the horizon. I stuck to my guns though and held out for what I perceive to be one of the best decisions I've yet to make!
Everyone wants to be wanted or needed and to feel appreciated and let's face it, needing someone can be scary especially when you know from past experiences how awful and hard it is to recover from losing someone you felt like you needed. Another thing we humans like to have as much of as possible is control. We love to think that we are in control of something and when we feel out of control we tend to try and find a way to create it ourselves.
One way to generate that power we long for is by keeping distance because controlling that decision makes us feel safe and like we have control of our emotions. We must be at least willing to try something new, or we will perpetuate the same disconnected relationships of past. Doing something over and over again expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity, if you want a new result, you have to do something different.
The only thing that I've found helpful when trying to change has been the gratifying experience of learning to recognize when I am holding back or not saying out loud the thoughts are rolling through my brain and in real-time choosing to speak up about it. Sometimes I don't catch myself immediately but as soon as I do I stop myself and verbally acknowledge to myself and my partner what I just realized and sometimes there is a great deal of fulfillment experienced by both of us just because I was able to identify the obstacle almost immediately.
Of course, there is risk involved but what is the alternative if we never let our guard down?
"The vulnerability paradox: It’s the first thing I look for in you, and the last thing I want you to see in me." - Brene Brown
When allowing ourselves to be vulnerable we feel more connected, invested, respected, valued, needed and desired. That said, vulnerability is a paradox. You get a break from wasting energy trying to protect yourself. Stop worrying about having every answer. We no longer need to work to impress others; we don't have to worry about saying the right thing, we can just talk.
Have you ever heard the line "assuming makes an ass out of u and me"? And to think, we all make hundreds of assumptions every day. I'm not implying we are all assholes because more often than not we make them subconsciously, the only time it makes us the asshole is when we knowingly do it. When there are gaps in the information collected, we fill in those blanks to reconcile what we are experiencing with what we think is going on. We don’t even realize we do this. When we expect certain things or hope not to have them, guess what my friend, unspoken expectations or lack thereof can be a form of assuming.
Most of us didn't get here with OnStar; we had help crafting the perfect storm with the help of our insecurities or all those participation trophies we received as children. Or any number of other factors, bad relationships, or a variety of different ingredients that went into the blender to form the bittersweet concoction that I know I have had to taste from time to time.
The danger is, that what our senses are telling us, and what we think is happening, may not be the reality (see my post on Miscommunication) . So how do we permanently remove that address from the GPS and choose not to drink the Kool-Aid? (I've never much liked Kool-Aid anyway, if you know me then you know I prefer Powerade)!
Being aware is insightful, but solving for it seems to be little more difficult. So far, these are a few of the strategies I've found some success with:
- Be curious, ask questions, gain clear information before making decisions
- Freely give trust, change your default first to assume the best
- If you didn't see it or hear it yourself, don't write your script for a scene you experience.
So how do you deal with assumptions? I would love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below!
As much as it pains me to admit, I am guilty of this. What is stonewalling you ask? It can show up in a couple different ways like when someone refuses to participate in the conversation or mid-sentence they just change the subject. Other ways of stonewalling include the silent treatment or my personal favorite, when asked if something is wrong (because clearly there is something wrong) I simply respond "nothing" (see my post about Miscommunication).
For me, stonewalling started out innocently, usually by trying to avoid conflict or calm myself down and keep from stressing out, or sometimes I honestly didn't know how I felt at the moment or what to say so it was a defense mechanism of sorts to just stay silent.
The impact that stonewalling has though is not so innocent, quite frankly, its passive aggressive in that we think the other person should already know what's wrong or what they did wrong so we shouldn't have to tell them. That leaves the other person feeling ignored, misunderstood, invalidated or just plain hurt. Left unattended for too long, it will certainly lead to resentment.
Many times I would have already played out how I thought the conversation would go before even having it and then I would use that as justification for not having the conversation at all (see my post on Assumptions). It has taken me a long time to realize I was going about it all wrong.
If we are going to have successful relationships where communication flows freely then we have to start assuming the best of our partner, every time. Stop thinking we know what they are going to say or do because they might surprise you. I know I have been surprised time and time again with the patience and willingness to learn from each other and grow together, the thoughtfulness that my significant other has shown me has changed my whole way of thinking and interacting.
I haven't yet mastered this completely but I am definitely well on my way. Hope this helps someone else as much as learning it for myself has helped me!