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As the new year begins, I can’t help but reflect back on 2016 and see where I can do better in 2017. Truth be told, however, I’ve never been one to make new year’s resolutions. They seem too fleeting and too easy to break when, for example, we’re not held accountable or when unexpected things come up in life that derail us. Instead of the typical stuff like diet, exercise, productivity, etc., I try to focus on expressing gratitude throughout the year. img_3806Having an “attitude of gratitude” helps me keep things in perspective, as well as clarify what’s important and what brings me joy.

There are some easy ways to express gratitude. My husband and I keep a gratitude jar, where we write down things we’re grateful for and drop them into the jar. On December 31, we go through the jar and read what’s in there. This is a fun and meaningful way to take stock of what’s important in life and what to focus on in the coming year!

Here are some other fun and creative ways to express gratitude. Best wishes for a healthy, happy and grateful 2017!

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This is just a made-up term I use when my delivery of a presentation doesn’t go well, and I wish there was a “delete” or a “redo” button I could hit to pretend it never happened. The ultimate outcome of today’s presentation was positive, but my delivery of it took me back to when I was in school, and early-career, experiencing shortness of breath, shaky voice, and an overwhelming urge to run out of the room to try to center myself. I thought I had overcome this particular challenge in light of more recent successes in giving presentations, leading workshops, and delivering speeches. This today was a presentation given for our organization’s Executive Director, who I have never had any particular trouble speaking to in the past, one-on-one, and in less formal situations. Not sure what it was, but maybe the combination of standing in front of the room (containing a 30-foot conference table) holding a clicker and going through PowerPoint slides had something to do with it.

nervous-public-speaking-clipart-1Embarrassing yes, but even more so, interesting. Interesting in a few ways: 1. How I got through the first couple of slides with no problem, and then something kicked in on the 3rd slide, the slide with a ton of text on it that I would have to go through in detail -as I’m writing this, I’m thinking that may have also contributed to my “deer-in-headlights” moment. 2. How the fact that there was very little time to prepare/rehearse goes against how anyone, but especially introverts such as myself like to go into a presentation. 3. How making small adjustments can make a significant difference, like sitting back down towards the end of the presentation helped create a more relaxed atmosphere, helped me speak more confidently, and hopefully reclaim the moment.

The other attendees tried to reassure me that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I perceived it to be. But my familiar pattern is to beat myself up over things like this. After a sufficient self-flogging, I can usually move on and focus on whatever a new day brings. What’s more, the ultimate result was positive in that the Executive Director reacted favorably to our ideas put forth, with good likelihood of them being implemented. So in light of that, and the fact that this can serve as a teachable moment, would I really want to “undeliver” the presentation? Great question. I guess the answer is yes….and no.

In closing, here are some tips to conquering presentation anxiety. Also, keeping our sense of humor can go a long way in this or any trying situation. Check out How To Add Fun to Your Business Presentations to help maintain a healthy perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

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As introverts, we tend to prefer staying out of the spotlight. But in the workplace, the reality is that it’s often necessary that we find ways to get noticed. And it can be especially challenging to get noticed since organizations generally favor extroversion and team activities vs. introversion and independent work. But there are ways to shine just as brightly as our extroverted colleagues. Here are just a few:

1. Self-promote through writing (the preferred means of communication), but also make time for “face-time” with your manager. This includes having an open and honest conversation with your manager about your work style, and if necessary, educating him or her on the unique needs of introverts. Reduce the chance for misperceptions and misunderstandings about the value your bring. 

Getting-Noticed_alexsl_226x1502. Take credit for your work. Resist the urge to always credit the “team” for accomplishments. Be sure to also highlight your individual contributions.

3. Prepare for the times when you have to step out of your comfort zone. Doing your research and being well-prepared can help you feel more focused and confident for that big meeting or presentation you might be dreading. 

Read more about introverts being more visible in the workplace. And see if you can incorporate one or more of the above approaches in 2016. Happy new year!

 

 

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I don’t know what it is, maybe I’m just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I’ve been observing some pretty bad behavior from adults lately. A couple of weeks ago at the US Open in New York, Raphael Nadal was drawing big crowds for not only his matches, but also for his practice sessions. My husband and I were waiting in line to see one of those practice sessions, when a woman with her 2 kids suddenly appeared. She was trying to pull that old routine of nonchalantly hanging around the front of the line in hopes of cutting in (as if no one would realize what she was trying to do). I told her there’s a long line and then pointed behind me to show her where it ended. She started arguing with me that she had been there the whole time. Seriously?

lead-by-example1Anyway, we went back and forth – with others now chiming in – before I finally said to her, “Nice example you’re setting for your kids.” She definitely heard me, but pretended not to. After a couple more minutes, I decided to physically plant my body in front of her, and then I heard her say to her kids, “Just let them go first.” How generous of her. I’m generally a very non-confrontational person, but in situations like this I have absolutely no problem confronting.

This is actually the 4th or 5th time I’ve come across the same, or a similar situation in the last couple of years. I really hope it’s more the exception than the rule, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this type of behavior is more typical than I realize. Kids especially can be very impressionable, so it’s critical for not only parents, but also teachers, managers, or anyone else in a leadership role to lead by example!

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AmyJoeRoycefield

Roycefield Swim Club 1975

Today brings a lot of reflection for me. I’m remembering my sister, Amy who would have been 57 years old today. She was always there to offer insight, perspective, encouragement, and honesty. She was in my corner, both personally and professionally…and in a way still is.

Never underestimate the power of your support system. No matter what’s going on in your life, having a trusted friend or family member in your corner to give you that all-important nudge, boost or whatever you want to call it, is priceless!

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Early on in my career, I placed a cold call to a company where I was interested in working. For me, this was especially unconventional since it was so far out of my comfort zone to do so. I really didn’t know who I was calling, or even if there were any job openings since none were listed on their website. I found a contact number on the site, assuming it was a general number to the HR department. I got their voicemail and left a message, very briefly introducing myself and summarizing my background and what I was looking for in my next job. I received a call back later that day with an invitation for an in-person interview. What I was to find out later was that I had called the Vice President of the company, who forwarded my message to the HR Manager. I had unwittingly bypassed HR and directly contacted a senior-level employee, which led me to my next job.

non-conformist-duckNowadays, we have LinkedIn to help facilitate making those higher-level contacts and gaining an edge with job/company targets. Unfortunately, many job seekers still rely mainly, or exclusively on online job boards and other similar conventional methods. Incorporating some unconventional, creative and cutting-edge approaches will help set us apart from the competition. Joining and participating in relevant associations is another great, but underutilized, way to make connections and increase knowledge (and hence our marketability) in a given field. Good news for current college students: many associations offer discounted student membership rates! Check out the ASAE association search tool for additional information.

Whatever course we take and whatever our goals, innovation, creativity and a certain degree of uncertainty are good things. As M. Scott Peck, the author of The Road Less Traveled, said, “If we know exactly where we’re going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we’ll see along the way, we won’t learn anything.”

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To quote Jerry Seinfeld, “sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.” This I’m sure is true at times. But in my recent experience with a shoulder injury, this was definitely not the case. Let me explain. I contracted something called adhesive capsulitis (a.k.a. frozen shoulder) about 9 months ago, which by the way is typically contracted by diabetic women in their 50’s. So in my case, it was super random that I got it. In a nutshell, there’s a good deal of pain and restricted mobility associated with it. After much online research (as I often do), it seemed like physical therapy was the way to go to resolve the problem. So off I went to PT, twice a week and a daily home regimen of stretching and strength exercises. My shoulder seemed to be oh so gradually improving, but I wanted to see what other options there were, something maybe I could do along with PT.

04 Jun 2001 --- Swimming against the tide --- Image by (C) K.TiedgeI found an increasing number of articles online about the effectiveness of acupuncture in addressing frozen shoulder. Now, needles have to be my least favorite thing in the world, by far. So it was with great trepidation and anxiety that I went for a consultation. The acupuncturist talked with me at great length that first visit, and we found a way to minimize my anxiety. After a couple more visits, I was noticing a significant improvement, both in terms of pain and mobility. When I told others about going the acupuncture route, it was met with both positive and negative reactions. Some people just don’t believe in anything that’s not mainstream or traditional. It seemed pretty clear to me, however, that doing PT alongside acupuncture was accelerating my recovery.

Fast forward to today. My shoulder is back to about 90-95%, and even more exciting is the fact that I can swing a tennis racquet with no problem! Going forward, I won’t be doing PT for this condition, but will continue my daily exercises, as well as acupuncture on a monthly basis (did I mention how relaxing it is?!)

Being a nonconformist and taking the road less traveled can pay dividends in many aspects of our lives, not just in regards to health and wellness. Part 2 of this blog post will explore how this can apply to our careers too.

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