What do cloudy days and rejection have in common other than being dreary?

File photo of the chikccraft books
File photo of the childcraft books (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shortly after my son was born my parents decided to use the excuse of our new addition to rid themselves of some of the clutter around their house. We came back from one visit with a crate full of children’s encyclopedias which sat in my son’s closet for the next several years. I found myself just as unable to throw them out as my parents even though they were definitely out of date.  They had been my encyclopedias after all, from a time before the internet. It just goes against my nature to throw out books.

Then my nephew turned four. He had a dinosaur themed birthday party and all guests including my son were given dinosaur hunter themed goodie bags. My son came home eager to learn more about them. As a child I had wanted to be a paleontologist when I grew up, so I latched on to his enthusiasm. He asked if we had any books on dinosaurs. I remembered the crate and a short time later we were dusting off its contents.

English: Clouds over Carnoustie Bay A towering...
English: Clouds over Carnoustie Bay A towering cloud formation over Carnoustie Bay. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we were going through the collection, we discovered a book wedged between the encyclopedias titled, How to make a cloud. My son was intrigued. He asked us to read it to him. The book turned out to be all about weather and types of clouds. I thought my son would be bored after the first chapter, but he insisted we finish the book.

I have to admit I learned something, or at least I re-learned something I’d forgotten. For example, I learned that clouds don’t just form because rising vapor cools in the atmosphere. That vapor must first come in contact with dust, dirt, or other imperfections in the air.

I recently received a rejection letter. My work was either deemed not a good fit for their present direction, or they believed they had access to a better option. I don’t have huge amounts of spare time to engage in idle inquires. I wouldn’t have sent my inquiry if I didn’t think I offered what they were looking for. But for whatever reason they had seen a flaw and moved on, and my self-esteem took a hit.

If there were no imperfections churning and blowing throughout our atmosphere there would be nothing to catch the rising steam. Nothing to condense it and transform it back into the liquid water so necessary for life to continue. Nothing could grow and nothing could survive.

Rejection hurts. There is no disputing that. But it also serves as a vital component in our growth. I may take a day or two to lick my wounds and soothe my pride, but I can’t dwell on the rejection itself. I also live with my little lord tyrant, my two-year old. Every other word out of his mouth is no. No is an incredibly easy word to say. I hear it everyday. It is his answer to everything whether or not he understands the question. But that doesn’t stop either my husband or I from continuing to try to find a way to sneak vegetables into his meals.

I have to remember that while there is always room for improvement, the reason for my rejection could have nothing at all to do with me. I have to tilt my head back and drink in the rain. I have to focus on how this stumbling block can aid in my personal and professional transformation. I have to keep trying.

I have to remember that I even if I hear a million nos, all it will take is a single yes by the right person.

Growth
Growth (Photo credit: AdamSelwood)

 

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Staying positive is tough, but I’ve always liked a challenge

English: Think positive
English: Think positive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My husband and I visited several parts of Australia for our honeymoon. While there we were entertained to learn that there was an entire news program dedicated to Happy News. The other programs were following the pattern of increasing the scare factor in order to generate ratings, but this program had decided that they were going to focus on the inspirational and feel good pieces.

Watching the program was like eating a scoop of sorbet after a meal, a delicious palette cleanser. I wish I could say we watched more of it so that they might have gained a few ratings, but we were on vacation and I didn’t want to stay in front of a television all day. I do hope the program stayed true to its principles and is still on the air.

Several years ago, I watched Michael Moore’s film, Bowling for Columbine which takes a look at school shooting and explores the factors that may or may not have allowed that terrible event to occur. Whether or not you agree with his politics, he does bring up an interesting comparison between the nightly news in the US and the nightly news in Canada. In his film, the US program made much higher use of flashy graphics and scary headlines, or endangering a reporter without need, as means of compelling a viewer to tune in than its Canadian counterpart.

Breaking News
Breaking News (Photo credit: morner)

When I decided to venture into the world of blogging, I did so with trepidation. I had read the comments section on sites like Yahoo and You Tube. People can be so cruel, especially when they don’t have to use their real name. I truly wish I could say that I was still shocked by what people are willing to put in writing.

I’ve attended leadership and management classes as well as read several books on the subject. Time and time again, I have been told about the importance of addressing negative behavior immediately before it has a chance to fester within the team. Because unchecked, that’s exactly what it will do. The casual cruel comment tends to make a person defensive, tempting them to lash out in retaliation or worse, against an innocent bystander.

As leaders, we have to confront these issues head on. Nip it in the bud. We cannot afford to be afraid of confrontation. Courage, professionalism, and respectability can be equally contagious.

It takes one positive thought to change your l...
It takes one positive thought to change your life, just one positive thought. So why spend your time thinking negatively? (Photo credit: deeplifequotes)

When I began blogging, I decided early on that I wanted to maintain a professional and mostly positive tone.  The best way to inspire others is to lead by example. I found a free site called social-searcher.com which analyzes everything I post on my blog, on Twitter, or Facebook and assigns it into a category such as positive, negative, or neutral.

Occasionally I get a red square next to one of my posts. I do enjoy satire and dry humor. My attempts to be funny typically get flagged as negative, but overall I am proud to say that I have been in the green more often than not.

 

 

 

I encourage you to check out your own stats some time using this tool, then click on the analytics tab. Next ask yourself are you happy with your results?

 

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Willing myself marathon strong

2009-08-30-signs
2009-08-30-signs (Photo credit: Dawn – Pink Chick)

“Don’t you give up on me 583! You are not a quitter 583!”

While I am not, nor probably will ever be, a qualified racer for the Boston Marathon, I deeply admire those who participate, and I also admire the fans. It is the fans, the friends, family, and volunteers who transform marathons or other races from terribly long runs into events.

Marathons take a while to complete. Marathons hosted in cities other than Boston can take even longer as the racers aren’t nearly as fast.

As a spectator, there is very, very little you can do while you wait for your runner of choice to cross the finish line. Unless your runner is equipped with a personal fitness tracking device (thank you Endomodo friend maps) you can only guess your runner’s time based on past performance.

Boston marathon mile 25 citgo sign 050418
Boston marathon mile 25 citgo sign 050418 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rather than wandering off to a coffee shop or taking an early morning nap propped up against the barricade rails, the majority of spectators spend this time shouting encouragements to random runners. While the spectators don’t know whether a runner’s name is Sue or Bob, their shouts are specific. “Bring it home 423! That’s it 741, show that pavement who’s boss!”

The spectators read the bib numbers off the racers and make sure that racer knows the spectator is calling directly to them. Often this little bit of extra attention is all that is needed for a racer to keep up their grueling pace, because they know someone is watching. The practice makes everyone faster.

If you think about it, these spectators are actually encouraging other racers to beat the person they were originally pulling for. In any other sporting event the fans would be booing the competition, not cheering for them. With marathons, the thing that matters most is that their runner beat his or her personal best, not how they compared to others.

Many of us want to be successful at what we’ve chosen to do. We’ve struggled. We’ve burnt the midnight oil. We dedicated ourselves to learning our craft, business, or other chosen skill. Then we get discouraged or feel threatened when we look at how we supposedly rank against the competition.

Scoreboard FB
Scoreboard FB (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a writer, my only competition is someone who has created an identical story to my own in length, characterization, plot, and design. In short, someone who is violating all US copyright laws.

My competition is not other struggling writers. I enjoy reading other’s works and occasionally comment on other blogs with my real thoughts and feelings based on what they have written, not just as a means to plug my own work. The little gesture of recognition might just give them that needed boost towards their own finish line.

Unless your business deals with professional athletics, we need to change our definition of winning. It shouldn’t be about how badly you can beat the competition. It should be about how well you exceeded your personal and professional goals. We need to force ourselves to become marathon strong and shout encouragement along the way.

Marathon_Medals
Marathon_Medals (Photo credit: zhurnaly)

 

 

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You have to dance like nobody’s watching

Dance like nobody's watching
Dance like nobody’s watching (Photo credit: fmgbain)

Have you had the pleasure of watching the Lego Movie, or heard the What Does The Fox Say song yet? No? Well if you ever found yourself near my house on a Friday night you would hear song, Everything is Awesome and the aforementioned song blasting on our speakers over and over again as my boys engaged in what has become our “beginning of the weekend dance party!”

Dance Floor
Dance Floor (Photo credit: enric archivell)

My eldest son’s dancing consists of jumping, running in a circle, spinning on the floor, and imitating a robot. My youngest is still mastering walking and mostly performs a series of squats and sways while pointing his fingers in the air. I am not even going to attempt to describe the series of movements my husband and I consider our own dancing style, but needless to say we likely won’t be contestants on dancing with the stars anytime soon.

We may be somewhat rhythmically impaired, but it doesn’t stop us from letting loose every weekend. I am going to miss these moments when my boys age into the tween years and are too embarrassed to be seen walking with either my husband or I, let alone be seen dancing with us. The party is going to be over way too soon.

 

Susanna Clark and Robert Leigh penned the following lyrics for their song, “Come from the Heart”

You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money,
You’ve got to love like you’ll never get hurt,
You’ve got to dance like there’s nobody watching,
You’ve got to come from the heart if you want it to work.

These words are proven true over and over again.

Nicolas Cage was recently interviewed about his Oscar-winning performance for Leaving Las Vegas. He said, and I paraphrase, that he was so sure that the film would never been seen that he didn’t worry about what the critics or academy would say, he just committed himself to the role. By not worrying about being watched, he was freed to do something remarkable.

I struggled severely with my first several attempts at writing, not for lack of imagination, but because I was too concerned about forcing my words be best-seller caliber, or at least be quote-worthy. Then I saw a rebroadcasted interview with the late Elmore Leonard, author of dozens of novels.  He repeated his longstanding advice, “If it sounds like writing. Rewrite it.” I realized I just had to start typing, and stop worrying about who was reading. As long as I gave it my all, it would work out in the end like it was supposed to.

If you are reading this, then the process worked, and if you aren’t, well… I’ll still be dancing on Friday.

 

Rhythm, a sequence in time repeated, featured ...
Rhythm, a sequence in time repeated, featured in dance: an early moving picture demonstrates the waltz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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How Twitter is helping to teach geography in my home

Zen
Zen (Photo credit: Josefe aka Hipnosapo)

My husband subscribes to a minimalist blog that provides tips for how the author has been able to eschew the material and achieve a Zen like state in the internet age.  For the full list of how he conducts his business (successfully I might add), feel free to visit Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog. I can get behind most of the other tips such as not cluttering my blog with affiliate advertising, however I am not able to completely ignore my blog stats.

And why should I? In the same article, Leo writes about providing content that his readers want, but unless he pays attention to what they are reading, how can he determine what exactly it is that they searching for. Perhaps he is just one of those lucky intuitive types. Steve Jobs of Apple supposedly never listened to focus groups preferring just to follow his gut.

During my most recent performance review, my boss and I debated whether or not the word intuitive applied to me. I told him that no, I didn’t necessarily consider myself that way. Opinionated – YES, but not necessarily intuitive. I like to see facts backing up my gut read on a situation. So yes, I do watch those stats. I find them fascinating. But the stat I enjoy seeing the most is the origin of my reader’s nationality.

Up until recently I had resisted signing up with Twitter. To me, the entire concept seemed to be counter to writing. When writing a novel, you are supposed to write tens of thousands of words, and yet to market it, you have to somehow rein yourself in to only 140 characters. It made my head hurt.

After I read the fiftieth article telling me I had to create a Twitter account, I finally succumbed to peer pressure. I’d rather you follow my blog than my Twitter handle, as I still haven’t exactly embraced the Tweet, however since then I have noticed that I’ve gotten a significant increase in the number of international visitors to my site. As a result I am forced to admit that Twitter is more than just another time waster for me.

United Nations
United Nations (Photo credit: Ashitakka)

If you are visiting today from somewhere other than the United States – Hello! I am still amazed you found me. I promise to do my best to avoid the sports themed metaphors whenever possible.

Up until now, my attempts at introducing my son to geography had consistent of bringing home cookies from another country whenever international visitors came to my office. We would enjoy our cookies and then we would locate the country on our big wall map, but thanks to you I now have another option! Even better (at least for me) the option is sugar-free!

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