Advice From Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In

I just finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.  It’s a fantastic read that forces you to stop and examine your own life and behaviors to assess where you too might be demonstrating those gender biases and unintentionally adhering to traditional gender norms.

There is so much really great advice Sandberg gives in the book, and I would highly recommend you all read it or at least flip through it.  As I write this post, I wish I could put more effort into this blog post for today and go into more detail about the book.  But as I write this post, I am so tired that it’s the tired where your eyes are like five year olds who are not getting the nap they need.  My bed and the pillows are calling to me like sirens.  To cap it all off, tomorrow my day will consist of waking up early to substitute teach, spending all day with fourth graders where every class will be a chorus of, “Ms. R, can you help me?”  When the school bell rings my work does not end, however, as I work on this blog along with the two others I created and maintain plus finishing up the sequel to one of the e-books.  Because I will be with students tomorrow who will need me, I will not have the down time to write drafts of tomorrow’s blog posts.  Yeah, it’s going to be a long day just as today was a long day.

That said, there is something Sandberg discusses which I think is not only relevant to my current situation, but to virtually every situation you will ever have.  In the book, Sandberg talks about how there are signs at Facebook which say, “Done is better than perfect.”  That quote is now officially my new favorite saying because at the end of the day, there will always be things we wish we had done better.  The important thing is that those things are done.  Imagine all the things that we wouldn’t have accomplished if, in the pursuit of perfection, we didn’t finish them.  All the papers, projects, assignments, manuscripts, etc. that never came to be because we were too focused on perfecting them rather than finishing them.

In that spirit, I am concluding this blog post for tonight.  It’s not perfect, but it’s done.  And done is indeed better than perfect.      

 

Confessions Of A Writer #16

In “Confessions Of A Writer #15” I talked about the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive people.  Adding to that, Confessions Of A Writer #16 is this:

Surround yourself with honest people.

To do this, you first have to be honest with yourself.  How open are you to criticism?  Feedback?  If someone critiques your work or tells you something you do not particularly like, how will you respond?  Are you willing to accept their response and see it as constructive?  Or does the thought of someone critiquing you or your work make you want to hide under the covers and nail the covers to the bed?

Don’t take honesty as an insult.  It takes a lot of courage for a person to be honest with you.  Rather than dismiss their honesty, appreciate that they were brave enough to be open with you.  Acknowledge what they are saying.  As much is it might sting, what they are saying is not meant to hurt you; instead, the person is trying to help you.  Because at its core, honesty is constructive.

You want to surround yourself with supportive people.  In addition to being supportive, the people should also be honest.  You don’t want a bunch of people who constantly say “yes” to you and agree with you, do you?  Where will that get you?  Not very far.

And just as you should have honest people in your life, you too should be honest with the people in your life.  Because if you can not be honest with the people in your life, how do you expect them to be honest with you?

“BULLY” film by Kendall F. Person

There is this amazing blogger named Kendall F. Person whose blog is thepublicblogger.com.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 29, 2013, at 5:00 Pacific Daylight Time he will air his new film “BULLY.”  The link to the article with the trailer for the film is here: http://thepublicblogger.com/2013/05/23/kendall-f-persons-bully-trailer/

I think “BULLY” is a must watch for everyone.  I was bullied from kindergarten until I entered high school for my appearance.  It reached the point where in high school I would not wear perfume, paint my nails, want to participate in class – anything that would bring attention to me.  To me, attention was the equivalent of directing a giant, critical spotlight on me where people were constantly staring at my flaws, readying their salt to rub into the metaphorical wounds.

During my first semester of college I took an Art History course, Introduction to Art.  The professor of the course was one of the most awesome professors I ever had by the name of Stephen Smalley.  Professor Smalley’s focus was on Pop Art and Modern Art.  I remember the first day of class flipping through one of the books and shocked at what was considered Art.  I’ve always maintained that Art is Beauty, and the more I studied Art, the more I realized that there is no true beauty ideal in terms of appearance and the human body.  Beauty by one’s standards is completely different than beauty by another’s standards.

This idea had me thinking.  If there are so many varied perceptions of Art, then there are just as many varied perceptions of Beauty.  So why then should I be concerned about not fitting other people’s beauty ideals?  I am beautiful and always have been.  Growing up, the people who bullied me did not appreciate my beauty and therefore should not be given thought.

Now, I paint my nails, wear perfume, and always have a genuine smile on my face.  Without going into a Christina Aguilera song, I am beautiful.  Always have been and always will be.

 

Confessions Of A Writer #15

I originally posted this on The Consultant (www.theconsultantblog.com), one of my other blogs.  I’ll post it here too, though, because as I was writing it, I realized it is a Confessions Of A Writer post as much as it is a Consultant post.

 

Surround Yourself With Supportive People

Everyone needs support in their life.  And while the title of this post might seem obvious, the sometime reality for many of us is that the people we think are supportive, are there for us, turn out not be as supportive as we initially thought.

To achieve success as well as our maximum potential, we need to surround ourselves with truly supportive people.  People who bring constant positivity to the relationship rather than negativity.  Does that mean those people have to always be happy and smiling?  Of course not, but their conversations should not include criticizing you and not encouraging you.

Again, you might be thinking you know all this already.  But stop for a minute and think about the people in your life and really assess how supportive they are.  When you mention that you are taking on a new endeavor, doing something different or atypical of you, do they respond with encouragement or raised eyebrows and change the subject?

You do not want to lead a toxic life.  Toxic people lead to a toxic life.

I have talked about the importance of building connections with people and continually putting value into those connections.  You must give yourself permission to shut down connections with toxic people.  While it might seem going against the advice on connections, being connected to a toxic person will only impede your path to success.

Sometimes it’s hard because you’ve known the person for many years and remember that they weren’t always a toxic personality.  You refer to your history with the person to justify keeping the connection.  Yet history is the past and we live in the present with our relationships.  Yes, the person was not always a toxic person; hopefully that is an indication that they need to work out whatever is causing their present personality and change something within their life.  As long as the person maintains their toxic personality, you ought to avoid them.  You are not their therapist, or psychiatrist, or doctor; you are someone who supports them, but expects them to support you as well.  If they are in a negative state, they become a drain as you are supporting them but they are not supporting you in return.

Allow yourself to remove the negative in your life.  You deserve to be happy with the people in your life.

Break Time

This past weekend was Memorial Day weekend.  Although it is considered a holiday weekend, I told myself I was not going to let that be an excuse to give myself a break from writing and blogging.  I told myself that just because it was a holiday weekend that did not mean I could give myself a break.  I told myself that I am trying to build something here, and that means not taking time off.

I had good intentions which sadly did not come to pass.

Saturday, I had to help out with a family situation.  Sunday and Monday were spent doing errands that needed to get done, especially considering that this week is the last week in May.  By the time I checked my emails on Monday night, I realized that I had essentially spent the entire weekend offline.

A part of me feels guilty and is tempted to berate myself.  I can’t give into excuses!  I need to stay focused!  Then another part of me reminds me that breaks can be good in moderation.  They help put things in perspective and reenergize you.  And they allow you to think about those ideas you shoved in a box and put in the back of your mind; breaks allow you to take those ideas out of that box and realize there may be something worth pursuing with those ideas.

Given Option A and Option B, I like to take Option B.  Option A is just too much negative thinking.

Confessions Of A Writer #14

A writing career is not instant oatmeal.

Having a writing career takes time.  It requires thinking of others and building connections with people.  Most importantly, it takes patience.

In our world, we are used to “instant” things such as instant oatmeal.  Just add water, microwave, stir, and enjoy.  When it comes to writing and building a writing career, many of us tend to think of it as “instant” as well.  You write a book, maybe you publish it or are trying to get it published, and you promote it.  Now you wait for the success and the career to appear like a train on a schedule.

But a writing career is not instantaneous.  It requires patience and a constant building of success.  It’s a lot of work.

John C. Maxwell writes about patience in his book Leadership Gold: Lesson I’ve Learned from a Lifetime of Leading.  He writes,

“Leaders need to remember that the point of leading is not to cross the finish line first.  It’s to take people across         the finish line with you.  For that reason, leaders must deliberately slow their pace, stay connected to their people, enlist others to help fulfill the vision, and keep people going.”  (15)

Although Maxwell is talking about leadership, you can certainly apply his advice to writing.  After all, aren’t writers leaders as well?

Oklahoma Tragedy

I keep watching the news about the tragedy that occurred in Oklahoma when an EF-4 tornado swept through and caused devastating destruction and death.  The more I watch about this tragedy, the more my heart breaks for Oklahoma.

As saddening as this tragedy is, listening to the accounts of people who helped save lives restores any wavering faith I had in humanity and the goodness of people.  People who used their bodies as shields to save others, and people who rushed in to help uncover and search for others in the debris.  People who are just willing to help.

I think if we all, in our day to day lives, maintained the mindset of actively wanting to help others and connect with others and acted on that mindset, then when these disasters strike we wouldn’t have to reach out to ask people to help because people would help without being asked.

I hope that you all will help those affected by the Oklahoma tragedy.  They are not going to be done healing for a while.