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You Must Learn Through You. I was raised Catholic but admittedly never understood religion or spirituality when I was younger. Why was I thrust into this world, dipped in water and then given a Christian name? All I remember is sitting in an uncomfortable seat and listening to stories I couldn’t understand from old men who I couldn’t relate to. I remember thinking, if this is religion, I want no part of it. So for the first 25 years of my life I ignored traditional religion and spirituality.
Even today, on the verge of 29, I have kept a distance from organized religion. But, I have realized as I’ve moved through this challenging decade of my life that I’ve become spiritually curious. In fact, much of what I talk about on this blog has undertones of Buddhism and other eastern religions. As I reflect back, I realize that while these spiritual lessons were always available to me, I was not ready for them. It was not until I went through my own struggles that any of the teachings started to resonate with me. And even then, it was my own experiences that I was able to learn from and grow through. The same is true for you. You cannot learn from a priest who tells a tale on the alter or a blogger who writes stories on the internet, you must learn and grow through your own unique experiences. That is the only path.
Change = Opportunity. “You will have five different careers in your lifetime.” That was the statement keynote speaker, Nadya Zhexembayeva, made at Hartwick College’s graduation ceremony this past weekend. The workplace landscape has changed rapidly in two generations and the days of staying at one company for your whole career, like your grandparents did, are long gone. The lifecycle for companies and jobs alike have shortened tremendously creating constant change and unease for people in the job market.
But Nadya, who has worked at countless companies as their Chief Reinvention Officer, says we should not fear this perpetual change, but rather use each new moment of change as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. Use each disruption in your career as an opportunity to look deeper within you to see if you’re heading down the right path. You are not stuck no matter how long you’ve been in a single job, company or industry. Reinvention is possible and may lead you to greater heights.
Over-preparation Can be Fatal. The first time I had to give a ten-minute standup presentation at work I was petrified. Ten whole minutes? Just me and some Powerpoint slides in front of a room full of people? I tackled this challenge the only way I knew how: tireless preparation. A month before I gave the presentation I started crafting my presentation word for word. The week leading up to it I locked myself in a conference room and recited each line until my throat went soar and mind spun in circles. But you know how I felt the day of the presentation? Terrified. I was petrified that I would forget a line and the whole presentation would be shot. So despite all of this preparation I went into the room in a bad mental place and stammered through my ten minutes.
As I’ve become more seasoned at presenting I’ve noticed a pattern emerge regarding my good presentations and my bad ones. While preparation is important, there is a tipping point. In fact, my worst presentations have been delivered due to over-preparation. On the other hand, my best presentations occur when I prepare a bit less but instead go into the meeting in a positive mental state. Getting into a positive state, for me, means getting rest the night before, meditating the morning of, and then taking a minute to envision a successful meeting. I challenge you to find your own way to get into a positive mental state before a big meeting or presentation. See the difference it makes.
Don’t Sit Still. What is one thing our teacher always told us to do in elementary school? “Sit still.” As children we are told that sitting still is good behavior and we’re rewarded for it. While this might make sense in a classroom full of five year olds, this concept of “sitting still” clings onto many of us through adulthood and conditions us to sit still in our cube and in our career. But, by sitting still, we are stunting our own growth and ending our ability to dream for something more. In truth, sitting still will only cripple us as an adult. It will cause us to fall behind and eventually become immobile. But, we don’t have to wait for someone to tap us on the shoulder for a promotion. We don’t have to wait for someone’s permission to switch industries. We don’t have to sit still.
So, know that you have the power to get up and move in the direction of your choosing. No one is going to stop you. It is only you who is stopping yourself.
Quote of the Week:
“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.” – Chinese Proverb