“No one-not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses-ever makes it alone” ― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success
We are a lot more like animals than robots. You cannot program a human apart from their relationships. You can’t drop a new chip in me and get me to do something. You’ve got to finesse my emotions, my relationships and my environment. As highly social creatures we deeply impact and affect each other.
Then why does it feel like I was taught to be so independent and individualistic to get to where I want to go?
I don’t know the answer to that, but I know this: We need each other.
True story: I was hiking alone in Colorado two years ago. I was upset over my divorce, feeling slighted by the universe, trying to work through my own frustrations and disappointments. So without thinking I jumped on a trail and just started hiking. I didn’t care where it took me and I only had a half bottle of water with me.
The trail got a little confusing. “Ugh, WHATEVER I’ll find my way.”
I ended up on the backside of the mountain miles away from the parking lot. With no water.
In 5th grade I took a test on government - and got a a 67%. I hyperventilated at my desk. NO NO NO. Shame washed over me. What am I going to do, is this REALLY my test?
I was not used to screwing it up this bad or looking dumb. After this incident, I realized that part of the reason I didn’t ace the exam is because, well, I just didn’t care. I really didn’t care at all and my teacher was a bore. Well, I couldn’t go around getting C’s and D’s so I needed a different solution.
I’ve got it. I’m going to become a ball of stress and anxiety and fear the day I’m handed another 67%. (It never happened again…)
I realized that if I worried about a test, I studied harder. TA DAA — I found a way to get myself to focus harder — raw FEAR. And it worked. It worked so well I went to college with scholarships and took honors courses and was successful. I think?
Remember in high school when we’d have to do group projects? Maybe you were on a sports team or in math club (no judgment!).
Anyway, think about the time this went to hell. When was a time when you just wanted out or felt really stressed? I’m willing to bet that 9/10 times it was because someone was being difficult. It wasn’t because you lost, or the other team teased you… it’s because your own people, your teammates, started drama.
And that’s the same reason people get fired. No one wants to work with a dick. In the book “Hiring for Attitude”, author Mark Murphy found that a new hire lost their job 89% of the time because of attitude related issues (not skills!).
Okay so, what are attitude related issues?
The breaking point.
I told my boss I wanted to go to grad school. It would add so much value to my work! She didn’t agree. There was work to be done right now — that had nothing to do with me going back to school. Well, crap. That was the moment I knew I needed to be my own fairy godmother.
Becoming my own fairy godmother meant knowing what my deepest dreams were and then making them come true. It meant giving myself the freedom to switch paths so that I could follow my heart and not be so focused on keeping everyone else happy.
I knew what I wanted. And now I could either be miserable and blame her for not giving it to me, or I could just go get it myself. I didn’t need wands or pixie dust or the perfect wish...
How do I know if I’m getting too personal at work?
What makes someone professional? The clothes they wear? Maybe. The vocabulary in emails? Let’s be honest no one says “therefore” in real life but in a work email, seems totally legit.
Here’s one thing to think about when trying to be professional: process your feelings about whatever is happening BEFORE or AFTER the moment with your boss or team. I’m not saying to be inauthentic or not feel, simply, don’t expect your bosses or team to do for you.
The point of separating professional and personal is to keep the momentum in the project or task at hand. If you can focus on that (and filter your feelings for another conversation) you’ll be killing the game.
If you’re wondering how to handle yourself when you are PISSED and don’t know what to say in the moment, here are some ideas:
Going from monopoly to checkers and why you don’t have to be good at everything.
I played monopoly so much as a kid that we had to iron the money between wax paper. Do you remember when you could spend an entire summer day just playing a board game? The little metal dog around and around the board. I always wanted to own Boardwalk and Park Place.
Now, imagine that you’ve been playing monopoly your whole life. And your parents tell you that you’re amazing at monopoly. And one day, I walk in and tell you “congratulations, you’re now ready for the real thing. Checkers.” I grab the monopoly board, pull it right out from underneath you, all the little houses go flying, and I hand you the checkers board. We all look at you expectantly. It’s time to play, let’s go! What are you waiting for?
And you’re just sitting there holding the little metal dog like… WTF are you talking about?!?!
Where I started and how I got here today.
With my diploma in hand, I set out to do something that had very little to do with my degree from Syracuse University: raise money so I could tour the country playing in a rock band. My parents were thrilled (or not).
Growing up, I was taught to do what I love, to experiment, to try new things and be curious. The only problem was, my curiosity was real at a time that I was supposed to have a plan for my life. How could I have a plan when I didn’t even know what I liked yet?
So I spent my twenties learning about myself and the world around me. I toured with a band for six years. I mentored others who wanted to follow a similar path. I designed and implemented curriculum for college students to supplement what they were learning on campus. I lead a staff team of 20 people as a Director with Keynote for six years. During this time, I figured out where generational differences broke down… and I was hooked.
A little on what this blog-thing is all about.
Hey! I’m here because I believe every person deserves the opportunity to make the most of their one shot on earth.
I’m glad you’re here too.
I bet there’s a part of you aching for a little more adventure. You’re looking for a plan and a tribe so that you can be more courageous and make an impact with people you love. Isn’t that kinda the point of growing up?
This doesn’t have to be super stressful and serious. I used to feel so serious when I had to network or talk to “important people” about “career things.” Ugh please don’t take yourself too seriously, and I won’t either. Instead, I’m going to share with you how to wrap your head around planning for your life and career but also how to stay healthy and happy along the way. You can’t do this alone, but you also can’t have just any warm body next to you on your journey.
We’ll be talking about the four steps you need to take to design the career of your dreams. Your career is not “out there.” It doesn’t exist because you get to build it. We’ll address the signs and symptoms that you’re pushing too hard and/or in the wrong direction. We’ll talk about your mental health, friends, and the life team you need around you too. Let’s unleash your career and make sure you enjoy the process along the way.
I’m glad we’re connected. This is some of the most important work you will ever do!