4 Manifestos for Change Makers

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'Stand Your Ground.' photo (c) 2010, akshay moon - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

It’s ironic, don’t you think?

It’s ironic how we respond to change. We want change, yet we fear it. We crave change, then we claw at it.

We’d rather slip to the back of the line (of change) than butt our way to the front. We shrink, we hide, we duck.

Screw change. Let someone else do it.

So goes the sentiment of far too many people. There’s little chance of upside. If you stick your neck out, there’s risk; there’s no guarantee of reward. Failure is possible and humiliation is downright probable.

And this is how we end up swirling around in the toilet of mediocrity.

Change may scare. But mediocrity kills.

How to Look More Thoughtful Than You Really Are

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Alright, kiddos, today I’m offering a lesson that will serve you well in the new year. Listen up, because I’m about to share 5 straight-up steps to looking more thoughtful than you do today.

Thoughtfulness, you ask?  Where’s the relevance? What’s the pay off? Whether it’s at work, in your love life or — for God’s sake — with your own sweet mother, thoughtfulness will smooth out many a bump in the road of life.

Square one: understand why this matters.

Think back to a pleasant surprise you’ve experienced (I said pleasant, so please play along). Got one? Now, think of another. And, since I’m seeking to demonstrate a point, please think of one more.

What do those surprises have in common? Ah, yes. Thoughtfulness. It is, don’t you see, the root of all surprises and delights.

If you’re not a “surprises and delights” kind of person, that’s cool. Let’s me give it to you another way… demonstrating thoughtfulness is the ticket to being memorable.  And in the words of novelist Isabel Allende, “You only have what you give.”

You only have what you give. True thoughtfulness, therefore, will get you everything.

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Deconstructing Your Failure

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Photo credit: Steve Ford Elliott

Career Grief sucks. There, I said it. It sucks — horribly.

I sat in a pool of it this past week, despite an astronomical EQ, a mad set of business skills, and growing demand for my work.  That, my friends, is exactly why it torques my day.  It rolled through at the most unexpected (and least welcome) moment, leaving me cranky that I still feel the aftershock of losing a job I loved.

Some days grief is like a spider web. You walk face first into it and no matter how much you spin and try to pull away from it; the tiny strands cling to you all day long.

Rather than wallow in a pool of self-loathing, I pinned down the source of recurring frustration.  I confess that my departure felt like a failed mission — it’s one thing to admit defeat but altogether castrating when someone else calls the time of death for you.

A Sense of Failure at the Root of Grief

It turns out that I’ve been mourning a vital part of me that I left behind. That part of me is kick-ass brilliance and talent, and I’d be an idiot not to retrieve them. In order to do that, I deconstructed my (self-labeled) failure by asking four questions:

  1. Did I attempt too much?

  2. Where did I contribute to poor communication or incomplete information?

  3. How did I dilute my own authority or weaken my team’s responsibility?

  4. When and how did I permit “drop-in crises” to derail our primary mission? Continue reading

How much time do you invest in your blog?

There’s no way around it — blog content takes time to create.  Writing has its process, and good ‘ol process requires time.

How much time does it take you to create a single blog article? Chime in (as a comment) about the challenges you’ve encountered if you’re writing blog content for the first time.

Bonus Reading for Bloggers

Do Your Office Gossips Have Free Reign? A Poll.

Handling an Office Break-up

I’m going through a separation.  Not my marriage, mind you; my job. Like the break-up of any magnitude, the moment it happens is agonizing.  

You know how it goes — there is the moment of shock, followed by the inability to breathe.  

Across the table, your boss is staring at you and his lips are moving in word-like patterns, but you don’t hear a thing.  Instead, you’re rooting around in your head, grasping for the executive equivalent of “You can’t break up with me, I’M breaking up with YOU.”  

Instead of delivering the verbal uppercut of a lifetime and turning on my heel, there I sat with a wadded tissue in one hand, a red nose, and barely enough air in my lungs to mutter, “This really sucks.” How profound. I’m a marketer, for God’s sake!

Emotional cognizance didn’t return until I left the scene of my breakup and my ego recoiled. Only then did dozens of colorful come-backs flood my pounding head. None of them were ladylike, considerate or politically correct. But God, they were witty, scathing and cathartic.

“Taste your words before you speak them.”

That’s my mother-in-law’s mantra, which warns “if they’re bitter, swallow them.”  I was bruised, yes, but bitter? Come on, who has time for that? Sure, this is painful. Humiliating at moments. I was heartbroken to leave colleagues and employees behind, and I loathe unfinished business.   

Truth be told, the break-up happened for all the right reasons. I’m taking this gift of time and delicious freedom to choose my next adventure. In case you’re wondering–that’s not just happy talk. It’s a truth at the core of my being. It makes me resilient and passionate.     

So as for all of those things I could have, should have, or would have said? As the gang on Seinfeld say, “it’s in the vault.”  I shared a few choice rants with my best friend and scribbled the rest in my notebook to keep my head straight.  

My advice for when you find yourself on the receiving end of an office break-up?  No uppercuts. No F-bombs. Less is more when you’re in an emotionally-charged situation. Think of my mother-in-law and taste your words, not only in the moment of truth but in the hours and days to follow.

When all else fails, feel free to borrow “This really sucks.”