Bring Your Best

A couple days ago, I had an appointment scheduled at a local coffee shop. As I walked up to order my tea, a young woman greeted me with a huge smile on her face. She motioned to me to come over to where she was busy ringing up customers. I commented to her about the new renovation that had just been completed in the coffee shop. She excitedly waved her hands around the room and shared how much she loved the way it looked. When I inquired about the different drinks, she patiently explained each one and went to great pains to ensure that I would order something that I would enjoy. We continued to talk for the next few minutes as I finished up my order.


I walked away from the counter with a big smile on my face.


I watched her for a while after I sat down. I was curious if that interaction was just an outlier or this was her normal workplace behavior. I realized that she truly was that incredible with every person she encountered. She made each person that walked up to the counter feel like they were the most important person that she had come across that day.


I know for a fact that young woman working in the coffee shop is not a manager. She is just a regular old customer service worker that I doubt makes more than 10 dollars an hour. I am pretty certain that she would have given me that exceptional service no matter what she was paid. She took great pride in her work and was committed to giving her best to everyone that she encountered.


In the book, Linchpin, Seth Godin says that “the world no longer compensates people who are cogs in a giant machine.” In the past, industry desperately needed employees that could learn the rules and processes and not think outside the box. Today’s world needs Linchpins. Godin says that “linchpins are the essential building blocks of tomorrow’s high value organizations.”


You know those people that really stand out? They’re the ones that go the extra mile and see beyond their job description They’re creative, energetic and do more than just follow the rules. They bring their strengths and talents to their job every day. They are willing to see possibilities and take scary risks. Yes, they are willing to deviate from the regimented rules and risk failure.


Now, maybe you’re thinking that, you, too, could be a Linchpin in the right job. You’re just stuck right now in a position that doesn’t let you be “you”. Well, you could be half right.


But let’s go back to my friend in the coffee shop. I have a feeling that working for 10 dollars an hour is not her long-term goal for a career. There’s a lot about her present position that is monotonous, stressful and mundane. However, she has found a way to bring her best self to her job every single day.


She stands out.


The question for you is, what do you aspire to be? It’s possible that you are in a position right now that stinks and you’re bored, frustrated or even miserable. However, you have a choice. You can make it a point to be a linchpin. You can be that very different person that daily brings your strengths and talents to your work. You can stand out.



Find Your Strengths

When I was in college and working on my undergraduate degree, each day was like swimming upstream. I had a lot of anxiety surrounding my studying and test taking. This anxiety came with good reason— I wasn’t very good at it.  The information went in my brain and then quickly left.  When I finally did take a test, I often felt that the questions on the test looked foreign compared to the information I had pored over for hours.


If a good portion of it was essay, I would be relieved and my anxiety would decrease considerably.  I knew that I could somehow articulate to the professor my level of knowledge on the subject. I didn’t realize until later why this was so much easier for me. One of my strengths was communication (Imagine that). For many years, I viewed these weaknesses in my learning as deficits in my intellect.  I actually bought into the myth that I simply wasn’t as smart as other people. I also bought into the idea that if only I tried hard enough, I could turn my weaknesses into strengths.


This idea that I could improve drastically in my area of weakness was ingrained in me from an early age. There is this notion that if you work hard enough and care enough, you too can become a superstar in any arena. Think about it, when you were going through school, did your parents pay more attention to your A’s, or was the focus on your one C? Did you believe that you weren’t trying hard enough and with the right amount of investment, your C could easily be an A?


Chances are, the course where you received a C for your efforts was not in an area where your natural talent lied.  The truth is that you have the ability to grow the most in the areas of your strengths. When you take your talent and couple that with practiced skills and knowledge, you have the recipe for off the chart success. Therefore, it makes more sense to invest your energy into areas where you can show the most growth, rather than focusing hours and hours on your areas of weakness. On a side note, there are some weak areas where you still need to be somewhat proficient in life. For example, not being strong in math doesn’t mean you can totally ignore your personal finances. You still need basic skills to get by in the world.


Since I have a little bit more knowledge and wisdom than I did when I was 20, I no longer waste my time attempting to become proficient in certain areas that I know aren’t my strengths.  I’m never going to be an excellent painter and you won’t find me scrapbooking anytime soon.  In fact, if you ever saw my artwork, you would chuckle. My skills are low level and I’m fairly certain that my abilities wouldn’t progress too far beyond average.  I’ve made peace with this, and I don’t spend much time thinking about it.


However, I have noticed that my writing gets better and better the more I write.  I continue to perfect my skills in coaching women the more I work with clients. I’ve realized that presenting to groups gets easier and my skills only keep getting better the more I practice.  These are all areas where my abilities soar since I have the natural talent.  These are the areas that make sense for me to invest my time and energy.


So how about you? Do you know your strengths and utilize them on a daily basis?  Do you spend too much time in your professional and personal life focusing on your weak areas instead of the areas where you can truly excel? If so, then you need to rethink your approach to life.  All you have to gain is success and happiness.

Cultivating Creativity

I’ve worked with women in the past that are quite insistent that they don’t have a creative bone in their body. When I hear this nonsense, it becomes my mission in the coaching process to help them uncover their creativity.  The truth is that every woman is creative-she just hasn’t uncovered her creative gifts yet.  Often, these women have a very narrow definition of  “being creative”.  They view creativity as being expressed through art, when actually your creative sense can be expressed in numerous ways.


Even highly creative individuals hit a dry spell now and then. Just ask me. Lately, the process of writing my weekly blog had become tougher and tougher. Developing new ideas and being able to focus on my work became extremely difficult.  I would literally sit at my computer waiting for an epiphany— the more I wanted this to happen, the less inspired I became. After much thought, I realized that there were changes that I needed to make to get my “creative juices flowing” again.  So here are a few tips to either uncover your creative genius or get your creative “mojo” back!


Give yourself permission to slow down.  Is focusing on one thing at a time a foreign concept to you?  Is your schedule packed and do you run from one place to the next? Repeat after me: creativity is never going to thrive in a frenzied lifestyle. You need to slow down and give yourself some space to relax.  Do you know what mindfulness is? It’s the ability to be completely in touch with the present.  It’s the skill of accepting the thoughts that pass through your brain in a nonjudgmental way. Don’t analyze, don’t evaluate, just let the thoughts stream through your consciousness. When you can slow down and focus your attention on your thoughts, feelings and emotions, you are more inclined to have a creative sense.


Find what environment is conducive to your creativity.  We all have places that work better than others for our creativity.  Some women like to be with talking with their girlfriends.  Others feel creative when they are relaxed and having a cup of coffee in Starbucks.  I have found that some of my best ideas have arrived when I’m surrounded by nature.  I wrote 50% of my book, 31 Days to Finding Your Inner Sass”, sitting outside on my chaise lounge.  There is something about being outside, feeling the light breeze, and hearing the bird’s chatter that stimulates my creativity.  I know this works for me so it’s my “go to place” when I’m feeling stuck.  Try out different venues and see which ones spark your creativity.


Get your body moving to find your creativity. Now, you’re probably thinking this is just crazy. How is that supposed to help? But here’s the deal— when you’re exercising, your brain is busy wandering from thought to thought.  This is exactly when the best ideas happen. Also, exercising helps control your stress and anxiety, which are toxic to any creative thinking. On top of that, exercise improves your brain activity, which can only help your creativity. I can honestly say I’ve developed many ideas for blogs and projects on the elliptical in the gym. It certainly works for me.


Get outside your comfort zone.  Routine and monotony breed unimaginative thinking.  How to break out of your rut?  Change up the routines in your life and do something out of the ordinary, even if it’s something simple like going a different way to work. Try a new class, take up a new sport or go on an adventure.  Just be sure to do something that challenges you and puts you outside your comfort zone.


If the creativity has been missing from your life lately, give thought to some of the tips I have mentioned. I firmly believe that you are truly capable of being a highly creative genius.