Monday, August 30, 2010

Preparation AND Focus

“Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.” ~~Aesop~~

This quote may best sum up the discussion from last week. Focus and knowing your desired outcome may be the most critical components of actually achieving your goals. I guess I’ve come full circle. Preparation is critical to knowing what your desired outcomes are and actually achieving that focus. Preparation may include research, due diligence, having conversations, networking… and it also may include mental training such as mediation, affirmations and other exercises to help you get and stay focused. Zeroing in on the substance is only really possible when you can successfully “weed out” excessive information.

I am reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell right now, and he actually talks about this quite extensively. It‘s in a different context, but it’s gotten me thinking… Gladwell gives several examples when having too much information in fact causes incorrect action. He says, “…truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.” Deliberate thinking comes from preparation. Instinctive thinking comes from focus. Put them together, and you have a winning combination.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


“We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.” ~~Robert Brault~~

It was brought to my attention yesterday that my plea for no whining at a Whine and Dine event was rather ironic. While linguistically this is very true (and very funny!), in the reality of those in transition, it is a real problem. Which brings me to my “goal” post… (hehehe)

When entering into any situation, you need to understand your goals before going in. This is true whether it is joining a live networking event, creating a profile on LinkedIn, engaging followers on Twitter, talking with a coach, going on a sales pitch, or even going to see a doctor. Thinking about your goals, having an idea of what you want to get out of the situation, will help you act accordingly during the situation. If the person in my Whine and Dine example believed that the goal was to network with a potential hiring manager to be considered for that ideal job, then being negative was not the best course of action. If, however, that person’s goal was to vent with like-minded professionals in a judgment-free environment, then they should not have been upset or worse, not have any idea why they were not selected to interview for the opportunity. My point, in case it is not yet clear, is that your actions should reflect your desired outcome. Actually knowing what your goals are in advance will significantly increase your chances of achieving them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Here’s a MUST do for you: if you’re not happy, upbeat and energetic, FAKE IT! When you’re down, angry, frustrated, disturbed, pissed off, etc… IT SHOWS! And that is NOT the face you want the world to see! So, fake it until you make it! Act “as if”! Put on your game face! Whatever you want to label it; “put a smile on your face and a song in your heart” (Thanks PAT!) and you’ll notice the change in how people respond to you!

I run a networking group for HR practitioners (, and I am consistently surprised by the people who come in to the room with their shoulders slumped over, a frown (or worse, a scowl!) on their face and consistently complain about their lot in life (or their job search.) they wonder why they’re still unemployed, or why the didn’t get that great opportunity even though they networked with the hiring manager… Think for a moment if in that same event the hiring manager for the perfect opportunity was out sourcing candidates. Do you think that bummed out, seemingly depressed individual would even be considered? I’ll tell you as a recruiter, the answer is no!

And what about online? If you’re using Twitter, Facebook, or worse, LinkedIn to vent, complain, or otherwise be negative, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. People ARE looking, and they will take note. Be kind. Be helpful. Maintain your positive attitude, and watch the magic happen!

Monday, August 23, 2010


“What we do upon some great occasion will probably depend on what we already are; and what we are will be the result of previous years of self-discipline.” ~~ H.P. Liddon~~

This twist on the preparation theme today stems from a rather inspired conversation I just had. I am thrilled that I found this quote! Here’s what I was reminded:

Everything we experience helps shape us for who we become. Every past experience helps us create the responses to the things that will happen in the future. And those responses will create new experiences which may change the way we respond tomorrow. We’re forever learning, adapting, and growing, which in turn helps us to shape bigger and better responses and reactions. So, even though the negativity sometimes gets the best of us, even when our circumstances aren’t what we want them to be, we’re still able to glean something positive. Our trials help prepare us for who we are to become. It seems then, that *life* is the best preparation of all.

Monday, August 16, 2010


“When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people.” ~~Proverb~~

Training and educating is my intention. I am passionate about teaching you to fish instead of giving you dinner… OK, bad metaphor for me if you know me and know how much I love to cook, but the concept is real! I want to help you plan for your success. I want to help you prepare for your next best opportunity. I’m all about helping you help yourself, so when I saw this quote today I just had to work it in. It isn’t my typical “preparation” post… but hey! I hope it helps nonetheless!

“Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.” ~~Denis Waitley

Friday, August 13, 2010


“The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice that which we are for what we could become.” ~~Charles DuBois~~

Every moment we’re awake can be a learning experience. I was reminded yesterday through a series of events, that even (and maybe “especially”) the most challenging of situations are fantastic opportunities for learning and practicing what we learn. I silently cheered as I noticed that what I DID was not at all what I normally do. I sacrificed a habit. I learned from my past, applied what I learned to my present, and noticed a significant difference in how people responded to me. It was a great experience. It did not at all change the challenging situation. But in changing how I responded, I took responsibility for how I felt about the situation, and THAT made all the difference in the world!

What behaviors or beliefs can you sacrifice to become a better you?

Thursday, August 12, 2010


“Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.” ~~Author Unknown~~
“Goals are dreams with deadlines.” ~~Diana Scharf Hunt~~

Update from yesterday’s post as promised: While I did wake up briefly, I fell back to sleep pretty quickly, with no anxiety! My affirmation last night (and then again when I woke up a bit too early this morning was, “I am in control of my desk. I am focused, efficient and effective in accomplishing my tasks.”

I got out of bed before my alarm, was ready to go much earlier than usual, and my goal is to have a fantastic day!

Proof enough to try some bedtime affirmations? I hope so! I know I’ll keep them up.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Attitude and Affirmations

“Make it so.” ~~Captain Jean-Luc Picard~~

Famous for this phrase, Captain Picard made it all seem so easy aboard the Enterprise. He exuded confidence. He epitomized the power of positive thinking. We can all use a little of his determination now and then.

Recently I’ve started having mini-anxiety attacks in the middle of the night. I wake up for whatever reason, and then I can’t get back to sleep because I start thinking about all the things I have to do. That’s so unlike the “me” of late, so I took a good look in the mirror this morning… Reality Check: I stopped my bedtime affirmations. I know I’ve written about these before, but to serve as a reminder, my bedtime affirmations are simply the things I repeat to myself over and over in my head until I fall asleep. They are typically things like: “I am diligent, focused, and accomplish great things.” Or, “I am happy, healthy, successful and wise.” You know, the things of Saturday Night Live’s Stuart Smalley fame. Poke fun, if you must, but I’m telling you, it’s the only thing that’s changed. So tonight I return to my “habit”. I will sleep through the night. I will wake up well-rested. I will accomplish my goals. I will make it so.

And, I’ll report back tomorrow.

Monday, August 9, 2010


“Success will never be a big step in the future. Success is a small step taken just now.” ~~Jonatan MÃ¥rtensson~~

We may never be really prepared to take that step. But if we wait until we’re ready, we may miss the opportunity. Some things we just have to do. Some things we just have to jump into. And, what we find along the way, even though we weren’t “ready” may be even better than what we were actually waiting for! It’s sort of like a good game of “hide and seek”. We plan, we seek out the best hiding spot, we crouch down and prepare to be as still as possible for the long haul, and then we hear, “ready or not, here I come!” and we hold our breath waiting to see what will happen. But think about it. How would you really feel if all that planning worked, and you missed out on all the fun because you were still hidden? Getting found is half the joy, even though you planned and prepared for the exact opposite.

Now, I’m not suggesting that preparation isn’t necessary; quite the contrary. Preparing for the small steps is critical. Mental preparation, physical preparation, and careful planning will help you know which small steps to take and feel really good about taking them. Just don’t let yourself get so caught up in the planning and preparing that you forget to actually “do.”

Friday, August 6, 2010


“The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs.” ~~Joan Didion~~

Two topics I love rolled into one quote; accepting responsibility and self-respect. I really like this one. I’ve never thought about self-respect as tied to being 100% responsible… but it makes perfect sense. I certainly respect myself more when I take responsibility for my self and my actions. I certainly find it easier to be 100% responsible when my ego is intact. I wanted to explore this further. I even went as far as looking up the “root word” or suffix “resp” to see if there were some deeper meaning, and I found this, the suffix for breathe is: “resp” (respiratory, respirator, respiration)… hmmm… very interesting. So here’s a leap of faith: being 100% responsible for yourself helps you build your self-respect, which in turn helps you breathe (read: live). OK, it really is a leap, but one I’m willing to take.

“They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Don’t give up that power. Be responsible for your own actions. Build your sense of self. Be proud of who you are. Live. Breathe. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.” ~~Les Brown~~

I had a great conversation with a great friend last night, and for whatever reason we started talking about lottery tickets. (Really we were talking about money, but whatever!) I was asked if I ever actually bought them (lottery tickets, that is.) Honestly, occasionally I do, and my reasoning is that you have to keep the dream alive… which gout me to thinking… I keep the dream alive anyway! I set my sights high and do what it takes, and I am a firm believer that there isn’t anything that I “can’t” do. If you’re familiar with the Winnie the Pooh characters, this may ring a bell…

“They're quite a critter, those furry beasts
Why, to himself he's a mystery
He cannot think of one thing he can't do
Be it climbing trees or bouncing games
It doesn't matter, it's all the same
That's what Tiggers do best
Yes, that's what Tiggers do
It doesn't matter how or who
That's what Tiggers do best”

Winnie the Pooh: Take My Hand – “That's What Tiggers Do Best” Lyrics
Singers: The Owls

So, shoot for the moon, my friends! Keep dreaming, keep setting goals, and believe that achieving those goals is exactly what you do best!

Monday, August 2, 2010


“Sometimes it seems your ever-increasing list of things to do can leave you feeling totally undone.” ~Susan Mitchell and Catherine Christie, I'd Kill for a Cookie~

Preparing for the day ahead is sometimes a challenge. It frequently takes too much self control and discipline for me to stop what I am doing right now, and plan for later. Sometimes it’s easier to plan for the week, month, or year ahead, because they seem so much more abstract. I’ve decided that while I know it’s a very good thing for me to have a plan and be as prepared as possible for the immediate tasks at hand, it’s sometimes just as much a good thing for me to have no short term plan at all, and just go with it. My long term plans are solid. The preparation to help me achieve my longer term goals has been ongoing. I know where I want to end up and feel really good about how I am going to get there. So, when I find myself stressing out about the utter lack of planning I have done for tomorrow, I can handle it. I simply remind myself that sometimes the best things happen by accident.

“Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.” ~Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

“Some of the secret joys of living are not found by rushing from point A to point B, but by inventing some imaginary letters along the way.” ~Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I'd Like to Give to You