Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Resilience



“No matter how far life pushes you down, no matter how much you hurt, you can always bounce back.”--Sheryl Swoopes, All star basketball player, Olympic Gold Medalist

Do you ever just like the sound of a word? Resilience is a word I’ve always liked. According to the English Dictionary it means, “The ability of a substance or object to return to its original shape after being bent, stretched, or pressed.” The ability to bounce back. Psychologically the term resilience means ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy; the ability to recover emotionally.

My first memory of hearing and using the word resilience was long ago when I was in my early twenties and worked in a department store selling cosmetics. “Resilience” was stated as a benefit of using one of the nail products that I sold at the time. Most of us think we need nail hardeners so that fingernails will be hard and grow long. Actually nails that are too hard will break, sometimes deep into the nail bed which can be painful. Nails that are too soft will split or tear. What’s desirable are nails that are resilient—flexible enough to bend slightly under pressure and bounce back into shape without breaking or tearing.

Resilient. I liked the sound of the word. It seemed to resonate with something inside me. I knew it was important. I also liked the analogy of being resilient, being able to bounce back after pressure. The word has always meant strength to me. A type of strength that bends flexes and remains intact.

Resilience is a quality that we need these days. With the economy, unemployment and business climate many of us are dealing with multiple changes, career disappointments and financial setbacks. Add to that the challenges that come along in life such as illness, death of loved ones, divorce, job loss, family crisis’s, and the multitude of things that stress and worry us and we all have situations we need to bounce back from.
Some people seem to take whatever life throws at them and bounce back quickly and easily while others seem devastated at every new predicament.  What’s the difference? What qualities help us to bounce back more quickly?

The next few blog posts will focus on how we develop resilience.

What are your thoughts on resilience?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Passion

pas·sion:

  • · a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything: a passion for music
  • · The object of such a fondness or desire: Accuracy became a passion with him.

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! It’s great to share your life with someone you love. It’s also great to spend your life doing work that you love. Work that you are passionate about.

But what if the job you’re in right now no longer excites you? Thank back to the way you felt when you first started. What about the job excited you then? How has that changed? How have YOU changed?

Experts tell us that if you want to identify your passion to think of what activity or work project you do where you lose track of time. Where you forget to eat. What activity do you get lost in? Chances are that this type activity or project is (or is at least connected to) your passion.

Recently I was looking at my own business of speaking, training and writing. I realized that in the past few years, during which I had a major life-changing personal tragedy, I’d lost the passion for my work. As I re-evaluated my work life I noticed that when some projects came along I jumped right in while other projects waited. I thought about what those projects had in common. All of them involved writing. It was easy to see that I am now more passionate about writing than other aspects of my business. Then the writing often renews my desire to speak or conduct training programs. It was easy to make slight adjustments to my business to focus more on writing and get more projects that were writing based. The result is that I’m now more excited and passionate about my business than I have been in years.

What adjustments can you make to your business or job that will reignite your passion?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Brighten the corner where you are!

Growing up in church, I remember singing this song as a child. It was quite popular with the children’s choir. Written by Ina D. Ogdon in 1913 the lyrics say, “Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do, Do not wait to shed your light afar, To the many duties ever near you now be true, Brighten the corner where you are.” This simple chorus came to mind as I thought about how we shine in our work and life.

I first started training about twenty years ago when I worked for a Fortune 500 cosmetics company and conducted training programs for the people who sold our products in major department stores throughout the southeastern United States. Often after the program was over someone would wait until the room had cleared out and come up to ask me how they, too, could become a trainer. Most spoke of how they longed to do something they found more meaningful than retail sales and they thought training was something they would like. I always tried to encourage them as I had come from retail sales and the same job they were currently doing. I always started by telling them to work toward being the best at their current job. I remember clearly one woman responding with a “Humpf!”as though that was a dumbest thing she’d heard. What I knew was that her current job was the best place to prepare for her next job, whatever that would be. The retail sales position she’d obviously grown tired of was exactly where she could build the track record of high sales, learn the industry, build relationships with company representatives and store managers, and develop a reputation for being dependable, enthusiastic and promotable. With the right attitude and focus her current job could offer her the opportunities she was looking for. She clearly didn’t see it.

Still, as I speak for companies and conferences I’m often asked about how to get into speaking or writing. I’m always happy to offer advice. And it always involves starting right where you are. What can you learn from your current job? What can you learn about the industry? About business in general? About the skill you want to develop? About relationships with people? What contacts can you make? And more importantly, what can you learn about yourself? How can you shine right where you are?

I’m certainly not a proponent of staying in a job you don’t like or where you are not a good fit. Personally I have had many jobs in various industries over the years. Some I’ve loved, some I have loathed. In all I have learned. I get bored easily but have learned that even in jobs that I found dull if I focused on learning something I could make it a training ground for my next move, either with the company or in another one. Learning and looking for new skills to develop and new ways to use what I was already doing kept me interested and engaged until I figured out what that next move would be.

Wherever you want to go, whether it’s a promotion with your current company or a completely different industry or a different field, you have to start right where you are. Don’t postpone being your best. Start today by brightening the corner where you are!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Shine!

“This year let yourself be the woman you were meant to be. She is confident, creative and capable. She is beautiful inside and out. She has dreams and desires and the determination to make them happen. She is inspired and she inspires. She is loving and loved. Everyone whose life she touches feels valued by her. You know this woman. She is the real you. You’ve seen glimpses of her in your mirror. You’ve sensed her in a proud moment. Now, go ahead and let her shine.”

--From Woman’s World Magazine 12/28/04

This quote means a lot to me. I first saw it in the magazine then later found it posted on Mama’s bedroom wall. I love inspirational quotes, poetry and reading and as we say in the south, I ‘come by it honest.’ Actually, I don’t really understand that saying either but I know it means that I inherited it from my mama.

At 76 years old she is still reminding herself to shine! Why? Because she wants to make a positive impact on the people she sees and she sees literally hundreds of people every day. Mama works full-time as a grocery store cashier. She has held a variety of jobs over her lifetime and several years ago when she found herself out of work she was inspired to apply to this store. They hired her that day and it was a perfect fit!

She’s gregarious and very extroverted so she loves being with people. All day long she talks to one person after another. She dresses in bright colors, styles her hair and wears makeup. She wears big, interesting jewelry and wears something special for any holiday. A spider pin for Halloween, turkey necklace for Thanksgiving and a wide assortment of Christmas jewelry from then until the New Year which, of course, calls for sequins. For other people it may be jewelry but for her it’s a conversation starter. People comment on her clothes, accessories and cheerful attitude. When other checkout lines are empty or have few customers, Mama’s line is full. Yes! Hard to believe but even in this day and time people CHOOSE to wait in line just to see Mama or “go through her line” as they say. Why? Because she makes them feel good.

With a twinkle in her eye, a kind word or a clever comment she reaches out to people to spread a little joy. “I feel like it’s a ministry,” she says. “Some people live alone and need someone to talk to; others may be having a bad day or a difficult time and just need a little kindness. If I can help make their day a little brighter then they feel better when they walk out the door to live their lives and hopefully they’ll take some joy along to the people they encounter.” This attitude serves Mama well. Customers often bring her gifts and send notes in addition to telling her that it’s a joy to come through her line. If she’s off for a few days customers ask about her and tell her they missed her when she returns. No wonder she loves her work!

People keep asking when she’ll retire. She never plans to. Yes, she could manage financially and not have a schedule to keep but she would miss the people. And her work has such purpose. Scanning groceries? Sure most people could do that. Some stores even have self-scanning machines where customers can check out all by themselves. Her job may be to scan items and handle the financial transactions but her purpose is to spread a little joy.

Imagine what the world would be like if the people you come across each day could truly shine! The light of who you were meant to be is already in you. It shows up in your dreams, desires, interests and natural abilities. Letting your light shine isn’t so much about ‘doing’ as it is about ‘being.” Being who you are and finding work and relationships that allow you to excel.

This new year, let’s all just SHINE!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Balance is a verb!

“Having balance” and “getting balance” are often mentioned as people express a desire to be less stressed. We speak as if it’s a level to achieve or characteristic to develop. Balance is also a verb—an action word. It’s something you do. Life balance is about balancing the various aspects of your life. It isn’t a place to get to or a state to achieve but rather a practice to develop through experience and knowledge.

Thinking about balance as a verb, I saw a beautiful photo of my friend, Debbie Barnett skillfully balancing in a Yoga pose. (www.TheYogaWoman.com) Looking at the photo made me feel relaxed and peaceful. Debbie, a Yogini and owner of Conscious Flow, Inc. graciously agreed to allow me to use her photo for my newsletter.

The pose, called “Dancer Pose” or “Natarajasana Pose,” is done by balancing on one leg while extending the other up high in the air behind you, bending the knee, taking the foot of the extended leg in the hand and extending the opposite hand forward. Bringing your torso forward, you balance on one foot with the other foot and arms in the air.

Balancing on one foot engages the whole body. It requires balance, strength, focus and flexibility. Life calls for balancing multiple elements. It takes physical strength and energy for various activities and mental strength to make good decisions about how to spend your time and energy. It takes the focus of knowing what elements you want to balance in your life and being crystal clear on how you prioritize them. It takes flexibility to adapt to circumstances and change plans without changing direction.

Dancer Pose looked more like Danger Pose in my mirror as I gave it a try. It’s supposed to be peaceful, graceful and elegant. Parallel to the floor was about as high as I could extend my leg. Still I was pleased that I could even hold my foot with my hand reaching back. I pointed the other hand forward; well sort of forward as I held onto the counter to steady myself. I took a deep breath and tried to relax. I counted to three before my standing leg began to wobble and my face plunged toward the floor. My extended foot and hand went out rather than higher into the air. Apparently falling also engages the entire body!

Balancing improves balance! In addition to strengthening the legs and stretching the shoulders, one of the listed benefits of Dancer Pose is improved balance. Debbie can hold this pose gracefully and steady with leg and arms high in the air for a long time. Why? Practice! Debbie has been practicing yoga for thirty years. She appears peaceful and relaxed even in the most advanced poses. The more you practice balance the better you are at balancing.

Just as a practice such as Yoga helps your body to work in harmony to strengthen, stretch, relax, reduce stress and improve balance; practicing life balance can bring elements of your life into harmony and allow you to juggle work, family, health, recreation and social life with less strain and fatigue and more strength, relaxation and joy. With focus and practice you can even make it look easy!