I’m One of Them

Have you ever thought or said to someone else, “don’t treat me differently, I’m just like them”? I have, and the who that defines the “them” for me is guys. For so many years, since being in high school and trying to fit in, I have focused on trying to be one of the guys. I’m not entirely sure what it was about being one of the guys back then, but I am starting to see it more clearly now for my adult life. I do know that a lot of what I’ve struggled with personally for the majority of my life is being seen as weak. I think a lot of us women struggle with this. That’s just one reason that we women try to be seen no differently than men.

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Do What It Takes

I want to talk about careers today. I’ve been doing so much personal growth, but I haven’t talked about the part of my personal growth that is impacted by my career growth. Some people may tell you that these two things are separate, but I disagree. When you grow personally, you grow in all things that you do. When you grow professionally, you are growing as a person as well. 

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I was promoted at the end of 2020 and that I have a tall order to evolve the teams that I lead. There are a lot of quotes and definitions from many leaders and coaches about what makes a great leader and I can go blue in the face talking about those things, but today I want to talk about one thing that I think any good leader would do. That thing is doing what it takes. 

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You’ve Changed

You’ve changed. I can hear people saying that about me right now, and I am pretty sure some of those closest to me don’t like the changes I’ve been making in my life. Change happens to each of us. It’s what we do with that change that determines the course of the rest of our life. Yes, I’ve changed, and I am still evolving. I am always changing and growing and changing. If I don’t allow myself to change for fear of what friends, family, or even acquaintances think, then I am not true to myself.

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Are You Holding Yourself Back?

Are you holding yourself back? Do you keep yourself where you are because you are afraid of failing, becoming a different person, or growing away from those closest to you? Do you stay comfortable rather than pushing yourself? I have spent most of my life holding myself back or only allowing myself to advance to a level that won’t offend anybody else.

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Balance Your Life, Passions, and Work

Have you heard the statement that you should find your niche and only focus on one thing? It sits at the back of my mind in everything I do. But I simply can’t focus on one thing. I’m ambitious. I’m multi-passionate. There isn’t just one thing that I do or one hobby that lights my fire. There are multiple and I simply refuse to choose just one. So, what does that mean for my time allocation? How do I find balance for everything?

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How Do You Treat Others?

How do you treat others that are close to you? Do you shower them with love and give them gift on their birthday or for Christmas? Do you check in with them to see how they are doing? Are you their cheerleader? Are you willing to be there at the drop of a hat? Do you desire to make them feel special?

Do you treat yourself the same way?

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Why is it so Hard?

Before I get started, get your mind out of the gutter! 

In all seriousness, why do we make things seem as if they are so difficult? Well, because they are! Duh!! 

Actually, no, they aren’t. They can be anything you want them to be. In my case for this episode, I’m going to talk about work and life in general. Now, I know that there are genuinely some problematic aspects to life; I’m not denying that. What I am referring to are the things that we can control and how we react to everything in life.

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What’s Their Story

Have you ever stopped to think about where some of the most successful people started out their life? Sure, you have probably heard that Steve Jobs started Apple in his garage, but what about people you come into contact with that you don’t know well enough to know their life story? Are you looking at them and the success they’ve had in life and wishing it could be that easy for you?

I recently received a reminder that if you don’t know somebody, you don’t know where they’ve come from. Even if you think you know, they might not have told you the entire story.

The company I work for is serious about our mission and about improving the lives of others and before COVID hosted pretty consistent volunteer opportunities. I joined the company just a couple of months before COVID shutdown life as we knew it and work remotely from across the country so I didn’t get to participate in the volunteering they did. When COVID hit, I didn’t think about the lack of volunteering the company has done, at least in the traditional way you think about volunteering. As a company, we’ve worked with other large companies to give back to our target market, but that is not what I’m talking about today. 

During one of our biweekly company-wide team meetings, the team brought up an opportunity to volunteer with a local organization that the company has supported through the years. This opportunity is to donate food or personal care items to a local non-profit for those in need. Us remote employees have the option of donating locally to participate or providing money (or not participating, but that’s not the option I chose). When one of our leaders started talking about how near and dear this is to his heart, he told a story I didn’t know. Now, the story is entirely his to share and I’m not going to go into detail, but the part that stood out to me the most was something that I related to.

As a child, he was able to eat because his family received food stamps. Me too. I cannot remember a time as a child that my parents didn’t buy food on their EBT card. It was shit food, but that’s another story for another time. This admission from one of our leaders who I haven’t gotten to know very well because of being remote and COVID, slapped me in the face as a reminder not to assume anything about anybody. This leader has been super successful from what I know of him. Like REALLY successful. But I never considered where he came from. What did he overcome to reach the level of success that he has?

When you look at these successful people that have started companies and sold them for millions or billions or who are models or Instagram influencers or whatever, do you ever consider what their story might be?

I haven’t. In fact, it feels like every time I hear a story like this or like Robert Herjavec’s story, my heart drops, I feel so much empathy for them and then I get inspired. If you don’t know who Robert Herjavec is, he is the founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Herjavec Group and is one of the Shark’s on Shark Tank. Or there is Sarah Jessica Parker or Charlize Theron or Ursula Burns or Geisha Williams.

Remember that quote, “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, don’t judge any person that you see as successful before you learn their story. They might be living pretty damn cushy right now, but they might not have started that way. Not every successful person is born into a family with what seems like unlimited funds or perfect parents or even a roof over their head. If you find yourself thinking it was or is easy for somebody, do some research and don’t assume.

That vice president in your company that you think has it all or the CEO who works a shitload of hours and demands (rudely or not) dedication or the actress or influencer or whoever you are assuming had it easy to get where they are, they probably didn’t. I have learned in the past few years that there are more and more successful people who started out with rough childhoods that most of us don’t know about. It doesn’t matter what level of success you are thinking about. It could be the teacher down the road with a beautiful house or that person that drives a spiffy new car all of the time or the doctor at the local clinic. 

As I sit here and meditate on the new fact I learned about this leader in my company, the more my empathic emotion wants to just hug him and tell him it’s okay. There are so many people who start life with little to no food, no shelter, abusive parents, being bullied, immigrating from a warzone or drug cartel area, or so much more. Let’s stop judging these books by their cover and start learning their stories. We might be surprised by the person behind the cover. 

Remember my Imperfect Warriors, you already have what it takes, believe in yourself, and crush every failure on your way to your dreams. Let’s be imperfect together.

Talking About Our Problems

A few years ago I was part of a group that was all about productivity, growth, and success. One of the things they shared quite frequently was about how we should focus less on the negative things in life. I brought that into my life and practiced it for a while, except when I got drunk. But then I grew away from that group and shrugged my shoulders and thought I could focus on the positive while also allowing complaining and negativity back into my life. And I did, for a while. Until I realized that I was more stressed and had a more negative outlook on life than I liked.

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Powered by Failure

Lack of success. That is what the definition of failure is. What the definition doesn’t tell you is how many attempts at something equates to a lack of success. The thing is, so many of us equate one attempt to being either a success or a failure. What specifically are we attempting? Anything. Everything. 

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