Random thoughts with a spattering of thoughtfulness.

Archive for the ‘Work Life’ Category

Nurture Inspiration

Moments of Insight

I am not a very creative person. My first instinct is always by-the-book and I struggle without a clear set of guidelines. Thinking outside of the box is not really my specialty. Mistakes are things to be corrected or erased altogether.

But, I love creatives. I admire their passion and that unique ability to turn imperfection into art. I long to achieve that level of freedom. Of course, I only recently discovered that creativity, like anything else, can be practiced and learned. I’m still not good at it, but I’ve found it comes more easily in the context of things that ignite my passion.

I’ve also found that when I acknowledge moments of insight instead of letting them pass by unnoticed, I invite even more clarity. When we are grateful for everything that is good in our lives, the universe conspires to bring us more good. So it goes with insight, clarity and creativity. When we acknowledge and appreciate it, we receive more and more of it.

Coming Into Focus

In my last post, I mentioned a little seed of an idea that I’ve been keeping warm and safe in the soil of my mind. I’ve been so eager for it to grow that I have been imagining and even planning how I’m going to shape it, but, really, I hadn’t the slightest clue who it was for. I know what I want to do, I know why I want to do it, I was even mapping out the how, but I didn’t know for whom.

A product or service will only go as far as the customer will take it. And I had no clue who “the customer” was. Until my most recent moment of insight, when my “who” finally clicked into place. Any imagining or planning I’ve done up to now has really been pointless because I didn’t have a clear image of my customer, but now I do.

My loves:

  • Communication
  • Training
  • Attitude
  • Engagement

The pieces are coming together. I have the what, the why, and the who. It’s time to work on the when and the how.

TL;DR?

  1. Accept imperfection; use it to make something beautiful.
  2. Be grateful for the good and you will have more good.
  3. The first step to achieving anything is to answer the most basic questions: what, why, who, when, and how.

The Power of Creative Inspiration

MindBodyGreen.com

I started following MindBodyGreen on Facebook about a month ago and ever since my browser has been overloaded with all the links to amazing articles about health and wellness for your mind, body, and soul.

If you’re looking to learn to love yourself, green your routine, or just be happier and healthier in general, MindBodyGreen is an excellent resource.

25 Questions To Ask Yourself

In early December, contributing author and life coach, Ashley Wilhite, posted the article, 25 Questions To Ask Yourself Before The End Of The Year.

I stumbled across her article closer to the end of the month and decided I was going to go through each of the questions one-by-one. I didn’t get around to it before the end of the year, but did yesterday during my lunch hour. I paid careful attention to each question and answered it honestly before moving to the next.

The question that resonated with me most was, “When did I feel most creatively inspired?” Since I’m not a very creative person I expected this question to be difficult, but it really wasn’t. It was surprisingly simple.

My Creative Inspiration

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, it’s probably no surprise that I’m searching for my passion and a way to live it. It’s been hard though, because I love everything. I want to learn everything. I want to do everything.

How could I possibly pick just one thing to focus on when there’s so much to choose from? How can I find a niche when everything interests me and I know a teensy bit about everything but everything about nothing?

Then, while driving home from the grocery store sometime between October and November, the universe opened up and inspiration sprang forth. What if passion is my passion? What if telling others about the beauty of passion and helping them find their passions is my passion?

I’m not sure I’ll ever achieve excellence in any one thing, but I do know how incredibly passionate I am about achieving excellence. It seems what I love most isn’t something I can necessarily do, but how I can feel. So, I have a little idea.

Less Than A Seedling, A Seed

I don’t have many details about it, yet. It’s just a seed, this idea of mine. It’s still buried in the dark, earthy soil of my mind, but I’m nurturing it. I’m giving it air and light and I believe soon I may get it to sprout. It will be little at first, but, like all things, I believe it will grow.

I’m so grateful for reading Ashley Wilhite’s article and taking the time to mindfully answer her questions. It reminded me of what’s important, what I did well, where I failed, and how I can be better. Most of all, it renewed the light I was allowing to dim; it renewed my courage and my hope.

If you have a little seed of an idea. Shine your light on it, breathe your life into it. Don’t let your light dim and don’t let your idea suffocate. If you nurture it, it will grow.

The Tricky Thing About Fear

A Chain of Events

Recently, I’ve started looking for ways I can generate secondary income.

I have a full-time 9-5, but have always wanted to move in the direction of more flexible, freelance options. So, I’ve started looking for ways to generate at least a part-time secondary income through telecommute freelance work. Like a lot of 9-5ers, much of my weekend time is dedicated to maintaining my household, but last week I decided I also wanted to use that time learning how to build an effective online business, so I put in my headphones and scrolled through the list of podcasts in iTunes.

This is how I stumbled upon Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast. I listened to the first six episodes of the Smart Passive Income podcast while cleaning the house and was bombarded with ideas. I’m working through the podcast episodes in order, but I had to jump to episode 87 posted on Nov. 15, 2013. The episode is titled “Why You Belong on Stage – Pat’s ‘Braindump’ of Public Speaking and Presentation Tips” and with my own newfound passion for public speaking, I couldn’t resist.

In episode 87 Flynn dropped this little gem about fear, “When the resistance, when that fear comes into play, for me that’s a sign that whatever it is I’m trying to do is typically worth pushing through…If you are thinking about public speaking, or you know it’s something you should do, but you fear it, take that as a sign that this is something you should do.”

When I heard this in his podcast, it occurred to me that the thing I fear most is probably the thing I should be doing. I also remembered this wasn’t anything new to me. It was something I had learned years ago, but had forgotten.

A Life Lesson

In 2002, I left my family to spend eight weeks detained on a military base in a small New Jersey town for basic training with the United States Coast Guard. I was scared out of my mind when I got on the bus and the closer I got to Cape May, the more my fear escalated into panic. What had I done?! What was I in for?!

Later, when basic training was a mere memory, I was discussing fear and life events with my younger sister and I remember telling her one thing I’ve learned is that, generally, the thing you fear the most will turn out to be the best thing you will ever do.

Despite the near-crippling fear I experienced as a boarded the bus to Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, I can say with complete confidence, that experience and the subsequent four years was easily the best thing I’ve done with my life to date. I didn’t let fear hold me back and the result was life-changing.

So why am I letting fear hold me back now?

A Debilitating Fear

I want to write. I love to write. For a lifetime I’ve been in awe of libraries which house innumerable resources for any topic I can imagine and I’ve dreamt about contributing to that wealth of knowledge. For years I’ve walked into bookstores, purchased random books on random topics of interest and longed to be a name on those shelves screaming for attention amidst thousands of others.

I have a passion for the written word in all forms, but I rarely ever write and I have never really worked toward my dream of being a “writer.” Why? Because when I walk around a bookstore, when I scroll through iBooks, when I look at the blogosphere–the millions of people trying to be heard–I am overwhelmed with doubt and fear. How could I ever stand a chance in such an over-saturated market?

So, other than journaling, I don’t write. Ever. Or, rarely. I started this blog and let it fizzle out. I wrote a couple articles for a local magazine and let that fizzle out. Despite my passion, I let the fear get the best of me and I fizzle out.

A Time to Change

As I was listening to Flynn’s podcast I realized I wasn’t writing, because I was afraid. And, I remembered my own lesson about fear. I decided I have to write. I have to set deadlines, I have to create more content, I have to practice, I have to get better. I can’t NOT do this.

So what if no one reads it, so what if it’s bad at first, so what if no one cares. I’ll get better with time, I’ll get better with practice. The more I write, the more ideas I will have, the more creative I will become.

So, last week I set my first deadline. I decided I would post to this blog on a weekly basis. I decided I would push through it, make myself write more, stick to my deadlines. Even if this never goes anywhere, I will practice, I will learn and I will get better.

Whatever it is you love, just do it. Forget about what other people think, forget about if you’re good at it or not, forget about the what-ifs, forget about the fear. If you’re afraid of failure it’s because you love something enough to care, so go out there and do it.

“…you didn’t build that [alone].”

I don’t usually get into politics. I’m incredibly uninformed, which I believe, rightly so, means I have no credibility on the topic. But, right now I’ve got something to say.

Obama’s gotten a lot of flack about the Romney campaign ad that quotes him saying, “if you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that.” And, I got to thinking that doesn’t seem accurate for someone who’s seeking a second term, so I found the source and I’m linking the full transcript of that speech.

As it turns out, the context of that quote refers to the American Dream and how everyone has opportunity. The implied meaning of, “you didn’t build that” refers to mentors, teachers, people who inspired your dreams and pushed you to make them a reality. It’s about working together and helping each other.

The lines leading up to this statement were, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.”

There is not a single successful person who can deny the truth in that statement. Even if you didn’t have a financial investor, there was someone who believed in you, someone who supported you, or even someone who walked out on you and made you more determined.

“This unbelievable American system” is why every child grows up believing they can pursue whatever they can dream and, for those who have dreams and work for them, this is every ounce of truth. Even if there is some small-business owner somewhere in America with no public education who has earned success with absolutely no help at all, no support, no beliefs, no advice, if you’re a minority (ethnic or otherwise) you, at the very least, had help from a system of government that allows you such freedoms. Your incorporation or LLC forms weren’t denied because of your ethnicity, creed, or sex.

Americans have countless freedoms they, all to often, take for granted. We all have something to complain about. We all look at others and think of how much easier that person has it. But, really, there are a ton of success stories. There are countless Americans who worked themselves out of poverty, overcoming countless obstacles. Children from low-income households who grow up on welfare and work their way through college to become successful entrepreneurs. Single mothers who juggle being mommy with a full-time job and night classes to make a career for themselves and improve quality of life for their children.

I, personally, know of a single mother who worked three jobs to afford any extra-curricular activity in which her, now grown, children cared to participate. She managed three jobs, after-school activities for two children, and a spotless home. That, my friends, is hard work.

In my opinion, (my opinion only, so take it as you will) those of us who take our freedoms for granted are the ones who have never really (and be honest here) had to work for them. We are a generation who view freedom as an entitlement, not a privilege. The American system never promised to MAKE your dreams come true, only to allow YOU the OPPORTUNITY to make them true for yourself.

The Americans who fight for their dreams and who overcome all obstacles to see them to fruition are the ones who truly appreciate the freedom and opportunity this country has to offer. And, I’m sure, none will deny having some help. A friend who believed in you, or gave you a book, or watched the baby at night.

My rant here is not meant to be biased towards either presidential candidate. My goal is only to point out how easy it is to misconstrue meaning by taking words out of context. And, to highlight how important it is to appreciate what we have and what we’re capable of.

For all my friends and family, and to all mankind, I love you, but do a little research and think for yourself before you go hopping on the media bandwagon as it rolls by collecting mindless zombies.

What I Love To Do

To me, the most inspirational part of Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005 was this, “You’ve got to find what you love…the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

I love to write. And, it’s funny, because for as much as I claim I love to write, I haven’t been doing a lot of it lately. Actually, I’ve been doing pretty much none. I’ve had ideas floating around. I’ve worked on some plot development and some character sketches, even some research, but I just don’t feel ready to actually start the writing process.

I think it would be amazing to weave an intricate and suspenseful story that affects readers deep in the core of their being, inspiring them to be better people. I want to create characters to which readers can relate, but also to act as mentors offering advice for life’s difficult moments. My dream isn’t so much to sell books, or even to be published, just to have a story that will inspire people.

So, I’m tossing around ideas. More accurately, an idea or two are gasping for air in the muck which is the day-to-day activity of my grey matter. These ideas will remain just that, maybe not indefinitely, but for a very long time, I’m sure.

Why? Because I’m insanely intimidated. And, I fear I have no imagination. Or, maybe, just maybe, I’m trying to sprint to the finish line when I’m not even steady on my feet.

Another quote I find very inspiring comes from the renowned rapper Eminem. In the song “Airplanes Part II” by B.o.B featuring Haley Williams and Eminem, he rhymes, “Because he never risked shit, he hoped and he wished it, but it didn’t fall in his lap so he ain’t even here; he pretends…”

I’m realizing that I’m doing a lot of hoping and wishing, but I’m not really working. Just like it wasn’t easy for Steve Jobs or Marshall Mathers (Eminem), it won’t be easy for me. I’m not going to sit down in front of a blank screen and effortlessly churn out 500 pages or so of literary excellence.

Dreams can come true, but only for those who are willing to work for it. So here’s yet another of my favorite quotes. An American entrepreneur just after the Great Depression, Arnold H. Glasow, once said, “Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” I like to interpret his meaning as work. One must endure grueling work to enjoy abundant success.

I’ve tried to set myself on fire a few times. I’ve told myself I’m going to hone my writing and creativity with daily practice. More often than not, I find that the only thing I managed to set on fire was my ignorance. Once that sputters out, so does my determination.

Ignorance on fire. This is a turn of phrase that has stuck with me for nearly 15 years. I first heard this during my, very brief, career as a telephone sales representative—the kind that advertised paid training, after which was about where my career ended. Anyway, as the room of new sales representatives neared the end of a week’s worth of training, the instructor explained that many of us will do very well as soon as we hit the sales floor. He said we’ll make ridiculous sales mostly because we won’t really know what we’re doing. We’ll be like ignorance on fire!

I seem to approach every aspect of my life with ignorance on fire. Once I realize how much work is really involved my determination fizzles out fast. This happens with pretty much everything; writing, relationships, jobs, hobbies, etc. The few things I have completed required some form of outside motivation, typically manifested as financial or contractual obligations. Sometimes, even that doesn’t stop me. I believe I already mentioned how fickle I can be, no need to revisit that topic.

To be honest, although I know I enjoy writing, I really have no idea what kind of writing I prefer or what I want to write about. A large portion of the writing I have done has been dedicated to journaling–probably why blogging seems to be a natural next step, although I was skeptical for a long time. I’ve dabbled in poetry and the occasional short-short-story, but, other than that, not a lot of creative writing. As much as I would love to write the next literary classic, I’m not sure creative writing is my strong suit.

I’ve found that I enjoy business writing, even with occasionally dull subjects, because of the challenge of limited space. I enjoy writing with abandon then having to go back and cut out every non-essential paragraph, sentence and word trying to whittle from 700 words down to 300. Something about editing your own work to such a degree is strangely exhilarating! Of course, this is something I should do regardless because, in really good writing, if it doesn’t add essential meaning, it shouldn’t even exist.

My New College Degree

There’s not a lot of “enlightenment” in this first post. But, give me time. I’m sure I’ll track some here and there as I muddle my way into blogging. So, here it goes…

My New College Degree

I got it. Yay! Now what do I do with it? When I applied for graduation I was excited at the prospect of being finished with school, at least for a little bit, and the idea of transitioning into a career I might actually enjoy. But, I received my diploma the other day and now I feel more disgruntled than anything else. Here are the reasons for my vexed feelings, in no particular order:

  1. I majored in Communication Studies. While this is a subject with which I am absolutely enamored, it’s also very broad. On a positive note, I can apply it to almost any industry. On the other hand, I can apply it to almost any industry. For the past 15 years of my life I’ve struggled with what I wanted to be when I grow up. Majoring in Communication Studies certainly didn’t help to narrow my options.

    On top of that, of everyone I know, I’m probably one of the more–if not the most–fickle. In the last two semesters leading up to graduation I wanted to pursue a career in: technical writing, education, journalism, graphic design, editing, publishing, creative writing, grammar, public information, linguistics, speech pathology, instructional design, etc. The list goes on and on. Not to mention, I changed my mind at least every two weeks and at the very moment a new ambition sauntered in, the old was already forgotten. I have no idea what I want to do with my life and I got myself a spinning arrow for a college degree.

  2. The job market sucks. Even if I had the slightest idea as to what I wanted to do, I seriously doubt I’d have any luck finding gainful employment doing it. I have this fancy, schmancy degree now, but I have no experience. With a crappy job market and no experience, my options seem limited to a massive pay cut for a highly competitive, low- to non-paying internship. Actually, this reason alone wouldn’t be so bad if not for the burden of my current predicament, which leads me to reason #3.
  3. I have a job that pays well. Granted, I’m miserable doing it everyday, but it’s a nice paycheck. Of course, this was never my intention. When I was hired at my current place of employment it was for an entry-level position paying little more than minimum wage, which was fine with me. All I needed some sort of income while I finished school. My hiring position was only ever intended to be a job, certainly not a career. Well, I managed to make myself a victim of my own success. I’m a fast learner, hard worker, and produce a quality product, so I was promoted to a new department within six months. Six months into that position, I was promoted again. That department held on to me for a year before I was promoted to my current position (which I’ve held for just over two years now), so, in less than five years, I’ve more than doubled my original starting salary. I certainly can’t complain in that arena, so why am I miserable?

    My job isn’t even very challenging (which may contribute, at least in part, to my misery), but it’s just not what I want to do. I work in the entertainment industry, which, for some people, may be a dream come true. In the beginning, I’ll admit, it does hold some level of grandeur. Some people love it and want nothing more than to create memorable experiences for patrons who attend their events. That’s great for them. For me, working in entertainment has the slow, cumulative effect of leaching every ounce of joy from my soul. The great and powerful wizard just isn’t the same once you’ve seen the man behind the curtain. I don’t want to have memorable experiences at entertainment venues because, when I’m off work the last place I want to be is at work. Also, anytime I attend another venue I spend more of my evening criticizing how they operate than enjoying the show. It sucks the fun out of everything, but I’ll be damned if I don’t get more-than-fair compensation. So, as much as I hate it, I’m comfortable with my salary and I don’t know how to get away.

And that about sums up why I’m less-than-excited about my new college degree. I feel like I should be ecstatic, but I just can’t when my prospects seem so bleak. Of course, I can’t pretend that I know what the future looks like. As much as I try, I can’t see into even the immediate future. Perhaps one day–sooner rather than later, I hope–I’ll be thankful I paid (and am still paying) the $50,000 for a BA in Communication Studies.