What Really Matters

images change picture



The pressure is on.  Everyday, I hear moms and dads talking about their kids and the stressors that they’re continuously facing in today’s competitive world. They need to excel in school, on the athletic field, and in every arena possible to be able to someday compete in the workplace. There’s no room for B’s on a report card—there’s no room for 2nd place. There’s no room for anything but spectacular, or else they won’t get into the college that they want.


While parents are focused on supporting their kids to accomplish these goals, it’s very possible that they’re missing the point.  There are some pretty important skills that young men and women need to be happy, healthy and successful in life that don’t get much attention.  But let’s be realistic for a moment— eventually you will graduate from college and need to live a life.  You need the skills that will help you navigate the world effectively.  This is where I feel a lot of today’s parents could use a refresher course.


So, whether you want to hear it or not, here are a few skills that I find valuable beyond a college degree from the right school.


Knowing how to write a good thank-you card.

My son relayed to me that he had received a Starbucks gift card from his aunt while at school.  He told his roommates how he needed to write a thank-you note for his gift and they were confused.  Not one of the five had ever written a thank-you for receiving a gift from someone. He found this shocking. I found it shocking that all my yelling over the years had really sunk in.  Knowing how to be gracious, considerate and have a grasp on proper etiquette in your professional and personal life is a skill that makes you stand out.


Being able to say you’re sorry when you’re not really responsible.

I still remember when my son came home, upset from his summer job. His boss had yelled at him, right in front of customers. He tried to calmly explain to him the real situation and how he wasn’t responsible, but the boss wouldn’t listen.  It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t his fault. I agreed with him it wasn’t fair, but this was real life.  Sometimes, in a job and in life, you’re not responsible but you have to take responsibility anyway. You have to say you’re sorry, when in fact, you don’t feel that you’ve done anything wrong.  It’s called “doing what you have to do to keep a job”.  Frankly, it’s also an important skill for your personal relationships.


Being willing to make mistakes and survive the experience.

It’s not easy to watch someone you love make mistakes. However, think back to your own life. When did you learn the most? It’s probably when you messed up in some way.  It’s when you got into trouble, made a poor decision and disappointed your parents and self.  Your life was severely impacted.  You felt pain for the mistake yet you experienced how you could rise above it and life could still be OK. Young men and women need this experience to learn, to become better people and to know how to survive bad experiences. Don’t take this away from them by trying to make it all “right”.


Being able to advocate for “you” in an appropriate manner

I’m referring to the ability to defend, advocate and speak up for yourself in your personal and professional life.  This skill is imperative to your future success and happiness. There will be numerous times in your career where you need to be able to sell and market your abilities. There will be numerous times in your career where you’ll need to defend your actions and speak your mind.  Your ability to handle these situations diplomatically, yet firmly, will impact your future positively.


These foundational skills just might make the difference in a highly competitive marketplace.

Dealing with Disappointment

My son was home from college for two weeks during the holidays.  I had talked to him before the break and had secured his “employment” in sound production. I wanted to make an audiobook of “31 Days to Finding Your Inner Sass”.  We had discussed the process and he reassured me he knew exactly what needed to be done.


You see, my son is a Music Production major and regularly records his own work.  He knows everything about recording and sound. He’s also a perfectionist- which can be a good thing or a bad thing, dependent on the situation.  Frankly, I usually like this quality in my employees.


I’m not quite sure why, but I had assumed this whole process would be simple. All you have to do is read into a microphone right?  How hard could it be? I didn’t realize the number of times that I stumble or slur my words when I speak.  My son pointed it out to me.  Day one in the studio, I also learned that you should never drink carbonated drinks while recording. Even the smallest gurgle sounds huge when you’re mic’ed so close.


This process was truly a learning experience for me. For example, I learned that the more you let me know I’m saying a word incorrectly, the more I continue to have difficulty saying the word.  It was not unusual to have me repeat a sentence four times until I got it right. As you can imagine, this was a time consuming process.


On day two, I got in big trouble. I was reading Chapter 7 when my son dramatically stopped the recording, tore off his headphones, and pointed at my mouth. “Are you chewing gum?”  I said nothing. He continued, “Mom, are you chewing gum?”.  Finally, with my head down, I said yes. Then, with all his professionalism, he said loudly, “You do not bring gum into a studio!!” I was busted and embarrassed.


My point in sharing all of these details is to let you know that I was NOT having fun. This was intense work that took hours and hours. I hadn’t comprehended what a time commitment this was going to be until I was in the thick of it. We continued to trudge through more chapters, and my little perfectionist continued to stop me every couple sentences.


On day three, we had plans to start recording at 2:00 pm.  At 1:30 pm I received a call from him. “Mom”, he said very calmly, “I don’t want you to panic, but my computer crashed last night”. I inquired into what that actually meant- did he lose everything we had completed?  He shared how he was on his way to the Apple store to see if it could be fixed. I asked him to keep me posted. To make a long story short, he found out that everything on his computer was forever gone.


As we went out to dinner that night, my husband turned to my son and I and asked why we weren’t more upset.  He couldn’t fathom how I had gone through this whole day without having an outburst of some kind.  “There’s nothing we can do about it”. We had calmly problem-solved but to no avail. The facts were the facts: we had to start again, whether we liked it or not.


Things are going to happen to you in life. Some of them will be more than frustrating and you might feel like “throwing in the towel”. You can get involved in your emotions and how life is so unfair to you. You can go on for days, obsessing and getting yourself more aggravated. This will lead to a big expenditure of energy and a real waste of your time.


I don’t know about yours, but I decided my time, energy and happiness is way too valuable.



Three Tips for Better Balance

Right this minute, I’m lying on the chaise lounge in the backyard.  The fact that I’m lying down and not moving is a good step forward.  Today, I planned my dinner menus and went grocery shopping, biked 42 miles, went to a photo shoot, walked the dog, made homemade soup for dinner, created a new program idea and did paperwork. It’s hard to believe it’s Sunday.


Have you ever had that feeling in the back of your throat when you know you’re getting sick? You have that tickle in the back of your throat, need to cough and every bone in your body aches?  That’s how I feel right now, and I could just kick myself. I have a crazy busy week culminating with my largest presentation yet and I’m getting sick.  How could this have happened?


Well, it’s not really that hard to figure out— if I’m honest with myself! Let’s see, the last week started with a full day of activities and an evening appointment. I didn’t get home until 9:00 pm. Tuesday was even busier for me. I drove to Dayton and got caught in the rain while walking all over downtown. I had an appointment, then a networking event, then drove home to walk the dog before leaving for another networking event.  Again, I didn’t get home till 9:00 pm and, as usual, didn’t have dinner.  Wednesday and Thursday I attended events and didn’t eat dinner. Friday, I got up early and ran from appointment to appointment.


Frankly, it was not smart of me to continue to push full steam ahead when my fuel gauge was obviously running on fumes.  I should know better than to not take good care of myself! But like many women, I pride myself on accomplishments and being able to “do it all.” In lieu of my recent realizations, here are a couple reminders.


You can’t do everything and be everywhere— prioritize!

You don’t have to attend every single event— it’s virtually impossible. Evaluate your commitments and prioritize their importance. How does it affect your career and how does it affect your personal obligations?  Can you compromise? One of the biggest issues women deal with is their insistence on seeing these commitments in black or white options.  The truth is that there’s a vast range of choices open to you.


Be attuned to your bodies needs and respond accordingly.

You need to be attentive to your bodies needs; when you’re hungry, be sure to take the time to eat.  That doesn’t mean you sneak some food standing at the refrigerator.  It means you take the time to sit down and slowly eat a good, relaxing meal. When your body is telling you that it’s exhausted and can’t push anymore, listen.  Stop working and take some time out.  There is a point you hit where you’re truly not effective anymore.


Take some “me-time” every single day.

Even when you’re busy, find a way to take at least 20-30 minutes of “me-time” It doesn’t involve work and it doesn’t involve commitments of any kind.  It’s just something pleasurable. Everyone needs this to recharge daily.


I try to practice what I preach. However, I am acknowledging that in the last couple weeks, I really got off track.  All of us do now and then. The important thing is to recognize this and make a firm commitment to YOU to get back in a healthy routine. I will if you will.