July 31, 2014

You Have What it Takes

It’s like you are sitting there, getting bored, and decide to yourself,
“I think I will find something hard to do.”
~My Beloved

My husband is known for his over dramatic assessment of my personality on a regular basis. (In other words, he is spot on 99% of the time.) He typical takes an isolated incident and blows it into a full scale character trait of epic proportions. (Translation, he knows me better than I know myself and has the uncanny ability to assess my tendencies.) So, when he delivered the aforementioned declaration, I just pshawed the whole thought and went on about my day. (I mulled over it for days and days and now you will be subjected to some of the findings.)

The truth is, I have been known to get excited about various things. I have embraced a few interests and these I pursue with a passion. It can be viewed as zealous and over indulgent to some. Masochistic to others. However, for myself, it is my attempt to embrace the fullness of possibility, laugh in the face of fear, and prove to myself that I do, indeed, still have what it takes to overcome the big challenges.

How will one know what is possible to obtain if one does not continually stretch the bounds of accomplishment? Amazing records are broken every day – athletics, knowledge, accomplishment, business, endurance. All of these fields are inhabited by folks that get up earlier, stay up later, work harder, learn more, and refuse to be told that the best that has been done is the best anyone can do. And why not you or I? And why should any of us be content to be as good as we have always been because others find it unreasonable to think we can strive to be better than expected? Foolishness.

And there are few things I am more defiant of than fear. Fear, while a necessary emotion for a variety of reasons, cannot be allowed to sit in the driver seat of decision making. If being afraid or unafraid is the sole determiner for our yes or no, we are remiss if we do not quickly reevaluate our standings. This is so much the case when we tackle those challenges that appear hard. Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of harm, fear of the unknown – all of these forms of fear can be paralyzing if not routinely assessed, processed, and dismissed. This habit is not an easy one for most and must therefore be practiced regularly to maintain.

Today I encourage you, us, to know without a doubt that we do, in fact, still have what it takes. If you exercise it regularly or have been out of practice for a while, there is still no time like the present to work that fortitude muscle out. Pick something, anything, that requires discipline, is greater than something you have done before, scares you just a bit (or even a lot), and sends your heart fluttering into the “hey, wouldn’t that be cool” zone. A bunch of different things can happen, and I can promise that utter failure is probably not one of them. Even if it does, you won’t be the first or the last. On the more likely flip side, you will probably experience some level of success, embrace a new possibility, laugh in the face of fear, and know for a fact, you’ve still got it.

Thanks for the coffee…


**Photo credit ground.zero

Great Customer Service is Not Optional

I have been in the business of dealing with people my whole life. You probably have too. Starting with family dynamics, moving into school days, then professionally, I do not live in a bubble. Working with, around, and for people is just a way of life.

In real estate I deal with a ton of people. These great folks have questions, they are making big decisions. I am a needed advisor. I appreciate that and I do my best to fulfill that role.

I fail sometimes, we all do. But, great customer service is not optional – it is necessary.

I was shopping last night with my family. I think I found a great gift. Unfortunately I will never know because I didn’t buy it. Well, actually I did buy it. However, when the total was much more than what I expected, I asked questions. And, oh boy, did I get answers. Loud answers, with a big heaping of attitude, a bit of finger pointing, with some slight neck work.

“It really is fine,” I said. “I think I just misunderstood.”

“Well,” more finger, neck, and attitude, “you said you had shopped here before.”

Really, that’s the answer? I have done business with you at some point so I am aware of all the little nuances of your workings? And because I have shopped here before I can expect to be talked to like an idiot in front of your whole store?

I again mentioned it was fine and turned to leave. I changed my mind and returned the gift. I was not spending money in that store today. I attempted to be as polite as I could to the cashier. I gushed apologies to those waiting in line. I was not trying to be ugly or cause a scene. I simply will not support that type of behavior. Everyone seemed to understand.

I supposed I could have gotten angry. But this lesson of customer service goes deeper than two people separated by a sales counter. It speaks to the larger movement of how we treat one another. It occurred to me that mean is usually loud. The majority responds by stooping to that level against their own character, or simply sucking it up to forgo the confrontation. There has to be a third option. The polite, “I am not participating in this behavior” choice.

Dealing with others, I think it is important to remember a few key factors

  1. If someone is trying to be nice, let them and respond in kind.
  2. If someone is testy, remember we all have had bad days. There is no way to know who their last conversation was with or what other factors are at play. You could be the one smile that lifts their spirits.
  3. When someone insists on behaving poorly, interact only insomuch as you have to and with your own integrity. Sometimes it is unavoidable. Be who you are based on your own inner compass. Keep you in tact. Get it done and move on.
  4. Regardless of which side of the transaction or relationship we are on, respect and kindness are appropriate.

Regardless of your industry or how you spend the majority of your time, it is probable that you interact with others on a regular basis. I am sure you have more to add. Please feel free to do so. How do you pursue kindness with others? What do you do when that just isn’t going to work?

Reclaiming Strength

Don’t judge your insides
by someone else’s outsides

~ Author Unknown
~ Laurie Davis gets the credit

I have no idea where today’s quote originated. Evidently, from my web search, no one else really does either. So, my girlfriend who reminded me of it gets the credit. Why? Because really, there isn’t anything new to be said – just awesome people who take the time out of their day to say it. I appreciate her and its my column.

I am feeling fantastic. I have made some serious schedule adjustments and (nearly) daily exercise is my new best friend. I have traded cigarettes for healthier eating. And (gasp!) I have even gotten my kids to agree to try whole food mac and cheese and apple sandwiches. And so far, it has been pretty easy. Know why? The folks I am surrounding myself with make it easy.

So often I allow myself to get thrown off track by the “gurus.” You know those folks. Whatever habit you are trying to kick or start, they are the expert. They never get it wrong and, quite frankly, us mortal beings are kinda useless if we don’t “get it.” The Internet is full of these folks – usually trying to get your money into their wallet. They berate, belittle, judge and condescend. It is a beautifully encouraging thing…really…hmmm sarcasm.

Luckily for me, I have finally learned how to steer clear of those information sources. The neat byproduct of that is I found some new really good ones. They are real folks with real lives and real flaws and real challenges and real success. Yes! You heard me right! We are not the only ones! And they take time out of their day to educate and encourage. I am the excited beneficiary of that encouragement.

I took that encouragement and applied them to “my things.” I had a desire to change some of my health habits. Is this everybody’s “thing.” Nope. And that is okay. This is not a “hey I am getting healthy now everybody needs to go get healthy” charge. The truth is I am still at the really early stages of this journey. I could crash and burn any moment. This is simply me sharing with you that support is good, encouragement is good and mean people do not have the corner market on great information.

Today I encourage you to embrace the idea that we are all not so different. While your thing is not always my thing, we all have them. I am over being told that I am somehow defective because my challenges are different from the ones someone else has. There are too many people in the world to sit at the feet of those who make you feel like crap. Let me be the one to tell you today that you are wonderful. I am wonderful. We are amazing! Cheesy much? Yeah maybe. But hey, if other folks can get away with tearing down, I can take a minute to build up. It is the least I can do after all the support I have gotten and continue to get. I am looking for ways to return the favor.

Thanks for the coffee,**Photo credit to Bobbi Miller-Moro

Accomplishing Goals with a Blow Horn

I wish I had a blow horn.

-Morgie Porgie

Coming to the end of our wagon walk yesterday, the kids saw what they had been looking for. Grandma and Papa sitting on the front porch.

“Don’t go inside! We are almost there!” yells Morgan. But we were still too far from them to hear or notice us.

“I wish I had a blow horn.”

Yesterday, this little exchange made for a funny story that made my folks feel special at the excitement of their grandchildren. As I think about it today, I too want to wish for a blow horn.

The need to have goals is often discussed for its importance. The difficulty of this task can vary from person to person. But eventually, we usually figure out what it is we want. Many of us stop there, afraid to actually write it down. Writing it down means we have committed. Instead of seeing the opportunity for success – we see the looming failure.

If I am not talking about you – trust me, I am talking about someone you know, namely me.

Naming a goal, committing it to paper, telling an accountability partner about that goal and then making that goal known to those who can help you achieve it is about one of the most frightening processes I know of. I won’t go into all the reasons that is true for me. If you can relate, then you already know. If you can’t, I am not gonna put the bogeyman in your head. But frightening as it may be, it is one of the most important activities we undertake in moving forward in our best life.

Today, I encourage me (and you too) to want to wish for a blow horn. I want to harness that excitement and desire that a four-year old had yesterday. I want to see my goals as she saw hers – wonderful and important enough to do whatever it took to accomplish it – even if it involved the use of a blow horn. Fearless to make a noise like that. Determined to employ tactics to succeed. Undeterred by the attention she would have to the attract. Never considering that there was a possibility of failure.

I wish I had a blow horn.

Thanks for the coffee,

Stress Management – Waking up from a 12 Hour Slumber

 

Being in control of your life
and having realistic expectations about
your day-to-day challenges
are the keys to stress management,
which is perhaps the most important ingredient
to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life.

~Marilu Henner

I just accomplished the rarely achieved and the utterly unexpected – I slept for nearly 12 hours. I walked in the door last night, kissed the family and laid down on the bed. That was it until coffee time. I felt pretty good and profusely thanked my dear husband who, with four children, had to have worked very hard to leave me uninterrupted. His response, “No worries baby, you must have really needed it.”

Needed it maybe, but probably not deserved. I have been really slack lately on listening to my body and managing my health. Stress is a natural occurrence in life. I do not find it evil or good. As far as I am concerned, stress is amoral. It just is. My ability to name it, handle it and work with it is where the opportunity lives.

It has been overly easy with the hustle and bustle of summer, the desire to perform professionally, the interest in moving my writing forward and the ever ball of excitement that is my home to throw up my hands and say, “well, it’s just not going to happen.” It is exceptionally simple to say, time, money, opportunity, resources are limited, therefore, I get a pass in paying attention to the habits and techniques that not only balance my stress but allow me to be an overall healthier person.

I hear an abundance of excuses, how about you? Now admittedly, some of our excuses are legitimate. The last thing I want is for you to think that I am coming from a standpoint that says you fail if you can’t figure it all out. I certainly am not. I could not, at this time, spend hours a day in the gym, hire a personal trainer or spring on my children a whole new dinner menu. I don’t expect most folks could.

But, I can stop talking about what I can’t do in this area and start focusing on what I can. Seems to me to be a far more positive, if not productive, means of confronting the challenge and communicating with myself.

Today, I encourage you to name that thing that you know would benefit you in some way – health, stress, finances – whatever. If you are anything like me, you have already considered all the “can’t” reasons. Try for a moment to find the baby steps. Redefine the win. Where are the small, doable “cans”? This morning, it has become clearly obvious to me that this is one thing I must do. I can’t think of many days where a 12 hour sleep cycle will support my schedule. And the husband, as gracious as he was, shouldn’t have to either. Racking the body and the mind until it collapses into a coma is not the smartest way to handle life – and we all know how much we love the smarter way!

Thanks for the coffee,

*Photo Credit to Denise Cross