“Unrush” Me.

Since I was 16 years old, this is the first time I have not worked over the holiday months. In a break between jobs, I decided I was going to use this space to take a good look at my career, what I want to do, where I want to be and how am I going to be a 106better leader. Here are a few of my thoughts.

  1. Be the boss.  I have been working long hours for years. In this time of reflection I realize that my success, stamina, resiliency and attitude are directly correlated to the investment in my own health. My best work has come when I was sleeping enough, working out regularly and eating well. When I let those things slide, it impacts much more than my waist line!
  2. Be present. Our lives get filled up with meetings, projects and to-dos. In the press of it all, we lose connection to this moment. A bleary eyed, worn and stressed professional cannot recognize or enjoy the truly memorable micro-moments of our own lives, let alone that of our teams or customers. Being present takes discipline and practice, but it can help reduce stress, help us connect more meaningfully to one another and can inspire new ways of seeing our business, work and life.
  3. “Unrush” me. We are always pushing for more, newer, faster, better. But, we can’t force innovation and just trying harder doesn’t help. Sometimes we need to be willing to slow down.Whether it’s time off, free space in your calendar, going for a walk or just leaving the project alone for a bit, by “unrushing” we give innovation time to settle in and new ideas to take shape.
  4. Keep learning.  In my busy professional life, I intended to make room for reading, learning, classes or training. I snuck a few opportunities in, but my jam-packed schedule made learning feel self-indulgent and wasteful. I’m reminded how beneficial a few hours a week to read, take an online course or listen to a webinar can be to provide fresh perspective on your work. It’s not selfish, it’s actually very smart and a great way to remain even more effective in your work.

This time of rest and reflection has shown me how I can be a better employee and marketing leader. You don’t have to have weeks off, but maybe over the holidays, you can “unrush” a little and take some time to refresh your mind, spirit and body! Happy Holidays. Cheers to a fabulous and successful 2017!

 

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The Key to a Better Selfie

takecareI am really bad at taking a “selfie”. I usually end up with some haunting version of a nostril or looking like those creepy dog images where their nose or eyes are amplified to distortion. You know the ones.

And in life, it turns out I do the same thing to myself. In my effort to be the best, I end up distorting everything. Let me explain what I mean.

I’m a middle manager, a wife, a mom of young adult children, a daughter of aging parents. I focus on everyone else a lot of the time. And then when I’m ready to focus on me, I get selfish and demanding. I’m tired and a little self-righteous and want to be heard. But the pictures are not flattering. They are distorted by my exhausted self.

These are exactly the times when I have stopped exercising and find it hard to keep a balance in life. I don’t enjoy things, I am just doing.all.the.time.

I know that when I don’t take care of myself, I am really in no position to give meaningfully to others. Then I am on campaigns of giving and pouring out until I am desperate in my soul. I struggle to keep balance and that ultimately hurts everyone that I think I’m helping. My boss, my husband, my kids. And then in this state, I glorify overworking and distort the view of everything.

A friend quoted her grandmother to me the other day. “Don’t forget…take care of the one in front of the guy behind and the behind the guy in front.” It’s not selfish, it’s not wrong. It’s the key to a much, much better “selfie”.

In Sickness and In Health

Today as I deplaned from over ten hours of airport travel at my final destination, I saw something so simple, but so beautiful, it almost made me cry.

A man in his fifties, maybe early sixties, bent down and kissed his wife tenderly on the cheek and then began pushing her in an airport issued wheelchair. The kind smile on his face and gentle touch said he was with the love of his life and proud of it. I imagined my sweet hubby and I in that position. He would be the same caring man that would love me no matter what. He is like that and I am so blessed.

I know that because the last couple of years tested us. I am proud to say we stood and are closer than ever. Hubby’s father became sick and was hospitalized for weeks that turned into months and on the eve of his discharge to rehab, he suffered a fall and passed the next morning. His family came and went through our home before, during, after. For weeks, we were the harbor for his entire family during one of their most painful times. We all grieved the loss. My own mother toyed a little closely with that this year as well. Weeks and weeks of uncertainty about the ones we love is heart wrenching at best; emotionally, physically and relationally taxing.

Add to this mix concerns for our own children, two totaled cars after accidents, stress and cuts and change at both of our jobs and the addition of the unknown for my health….it was nearly more than we could take. In many ways, it forced us to refocus on what was important. To simplify our focus was a survival tactic and it was all we could do to cope.

During the time, I was told that I may have MS. A scan of my brain had many white spots that indicate a degenerative disease and I would need to see a specialist. Problem was….it took nearly six months to see him and in the meantime the nagging thought of being a patient for my hubby to care for ate away at me….at him. It was the unspoken conversation in the glances. The fear hanging in the spaces of our conversations. I was scared and tried to be brave. I acted strong and felt as weak as I ever had. Worry ate at my heart. I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to hold him back.

When we finally saw the specialist he told us I do have a lot of spots on my brain, many more than normal, but no other symptoms of MS. End of story. I wish I could tell you that I don’t think about it, but I would be lying. What am I supposed to look for? Do I come back? I bravely push those thoughts away and avoid them. Until today…they flooded over me again. But this time, a sweet peace settled just behind those thoughts. IF that ever were the case, my hubby would have leaned in to kiss me and treated me with dignity and kindness like this stranger. I am blessed indeed.