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My name is Holly, and I am a Hot Hot Mess

SweepUnderRugThe thing about the messiness of life is that it just gets swept under the rug.

We don’t post the real stuff of life on FaceBook.

No photos of tears and bed-head on Instagram.

Won’t find discussions about the inability to find a job on LinkedIn.

Sweep…Sweep…Sweep 

I am a driving, strong work ethic, devoted, perfectionist who doesn’t fail, known for my ability to get things done with high quality and on time … kind of person.  It’s in my jeans, my DNA, a familial trait, likely both nature and nurture involved.  Do you recognize this person?  In a loved one or colleague?  In the mirror?

We are reliable and successful, and likely exhausted, too.  We hold things together, so seemingly effortlessly, when life gets crazy.  And life DOES get crazy.  We have kids who get sick, and dogs who pee on the rug, and sometimes don’t shower ALL day because we are up at the crack of dawn DOing all these things. Doing, doing, doing, going, going, going… living up to the standard we’ve accepted, adopted, and created for ourselves.

SuperWoman

I’d like to introduce you to a part of me.  Her name is “Hot Hot Mess”.  She showed up at a  LifeisMessytraining class I attended shortly after my 60 year old mother-in-law was suddenly diagnosed with a stage 4 glioblastoma brain tumor.  It was the worst of the worst case scenario.  Not only mom and Nana to us, but confidant, comforter, best friend, chef, encourager, and neighbor; someone we do life with!  Now THIS was MESSY!

 

The intimacy of that training class was the perfect environment to allow Hot Hot Mess (we’ll use HHM) to emerge.  She is the ultimate definition of vulnerable.  She has emotions and she shares them.  Her house isn’t always clean.  She feels what is happening in life right now, she sits in it and with it.  She is raw and open and authentic.  She is the opposite of just gulping it down, continuing the doing and going, wearing a glossy smile, and pretending like all is OK.  SHE is real. Sometimes I forget her and I have to remind myself, and invite her to be present once again.

BlessThisHotMessWe are literally designed to feel and express and to BE.  Life IS messy and full of the unexpected.  This is the human condition.  It is these experiences that chisel and sand and polish us into being our true and evolved self.  By gulping it down and sweep…sweep…sweeping it under, we miss opportunity to fully benefit from the evolutionary possibility of these experiences. Seeing and embracing our inner HHM is a gift to ourselves – permission to fully embrace the development opportunity in each messy experience.

The worst part, though, is the seeming standard we lay out there for others to see.  A bar so high it’s un-achievable.  An expectation that it’s not OK to be real and messy.  The gift in sharing your personal HHM is permission-granting to others.  It’s freedom to be real.  It opens us to real and meaningful connection and we are meant to live life within community, an essential ingredient to thriving in this life.

Be real, my friends.  Say hello to your HHM.  Embrace what’s possible when you fully feel and are present in this life.  Pay it forward by sharing it with others and reap the harvest of meaningful connection.

THIS is where I’ll meet you…

Greeted with a warm hug, a heart full of joy, tears to share, 

and a wide kind smile.

 

Start Your Career Transition: Step 3 – Word Research

October 17, 2011 1 comment

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In this step, you get to do job REsearch, without job searching.  Job research for the sake of finding words and work activities that sound interesting to you.  This step will help you focus future job search (or job creation) activities on the type of work that most interests you, leverages how you are uniquely wired, and provides engaging challenges.

Online Job Research

  1. Go online, at least two or three times, and look at job postings that look interesting.
  2. IGNORE job qualifications at this stage (remember, this activity is NOT an actual job search).
  3. Capture critical information along the way:
  • search terms that produce interesting job results,
  • job titles that seem exciting and just sound “cool” to you, and
  • job responsibilities that you find within job descriptions that seem exceptionally interesting.

Read more…

Start Your Career Transition: Step 2 – Engage Others

October 10, 2011 2 comments

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Step 2 – Engage Others

Now that you have a clear picture of yourself (see Step 1 post), take some time to engage others who know you, such as:  friends, family, co-workers, peers, clients, professional colleagues, fellow volunteers, etc.  Think of ~15-25 people who you can invite to participate in your journey – more is better.  Tell them you are seeking some feedback from people who know you or who you’ve worked with as you do some career and life planning.  Ask for 15 minutes of their time (or take the opportunity for a longer coffee meet-up or lunch, or …).

Questions

  1. How would you describe me and my work?  As if you were recommending me for a job or someone asked you as a reference.  Please be honest with things you think are good or might seem bad.
  2. How does it FEEL to work with me?  They may struggle with this one a little, but allow them time to think and process.  You may need to offer one word that another person used in response to this question to help get them started.

What You Are Doing During the Conversation

Read more…

Start Your Career Transition, Step 1- First Know Thyself

October 3, 2011 2 comments

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I was privileged again recently to speak with someone interested in making a career transition.  She wanted to make sure she didn’t just transition without being thoughtful in how she proceeded.  Frustration and longing for something different can actually get in the way of thinking about how to tactically move forward.  This series offers several steps to help you get moving forward in a purposeful way.

Step 1 – First Know Thyself

Use several different sources to get a crisp picture of who you are – to take a long, slow, inquisitive look into a looking-glass to discover and learn about how you are uniquely designed:

  • What you are great at doing
  • What you love to do
  • What you are passionate about / what gets you jazzed-up and excited
  • What you want in life
  • In what way / environment you do your best work
  • How you communicate and relate with others
  • What is most important to you

Do some assessments and use other resources to better understand yourself.  If you have access to these types of tools at work, say YES!  If not, there are some great reasonably priced resources (several provided below).  Read more…

A Written Reflection

September 30, 2011 3 comments

As a strong “ideator” who uses “connectedness” in all things and is an extreme extrovert, so much of how I process my thinking and move it forward happens in conversations with people.   It has been a very effective method for incubating, creating, and drawing important connections and meaning – all through the privilege of getting to know people better, engaging with them and further developing these relationships.

Like so many other great things in our lives, I’ve found a down-side to these activities.  As the type of person who likes to chase “the shiny new thing” I often find myself fragmented and frenzied.   My head starts swirling in thoughts and I’m physically jazzed-up from the interaction; often waking up with thoughts in the middle of the night.  I found myself just disappearing from these activities by escaping into my work and not moving any ideas forward as a way to refresh from the hype.  I was stuck in this cycle of rapid frenzied movement followed by stagnation and it felt unhealthy, unbalanced, and even ineffective.

I lacked balance.  Focus was missing  Solitary reflection should replace the stagnation in order to quiet the mind, process and understand, draw meaning, and be able to keep moving forward.

I was privileged to participate in a writing / journaling conference hosted by The People House and The Center for Journal Therapy recently.  I learned that journaling and solitary reflection would accomplish both things:  quiet the mind AND continue to move ideas and thinking forward.  I’ve been diligently applying these techniques and feel more balanced, have more insight, and am moving ideas and thinking forward more rapidly and with a calm that I haven’t had before.

The tagline for the conference was:  I write to know what my heart thinks.  It is so true!  I’m great at asking questions, but have lacked the discipline to pursue finding answers, including listening for those answers.  If you have never written as a technique to move your ideas forward, try it!

Reflective Writing Steps:

  1. Set aside 10-15 uninterrupted and quiet minutes to allow the free-flow of your thoughts.
  2. Pick a question (of yourself, of someone or something else, of God, or whomever).  See following examples.
  3. Read more…

A Moment of Clarity – The Power of Self-Knowledge

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

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Have you ever had the gift of witnessing one of those “ah ha!” moments when a child / teen / youth / young person / youngun’ realizes something about themselves?  The kind of clarity that maybe you wish you found earlier in your life?  The sort of self-knowledge that can have a huge impact on how you work and interact with others in all kinds of useful circumstance?

I witnessed this with my daughter when I shared some “style” information.  She was able to say “that’s exactly what I do!”  The best part of this experience, however, was to see her put this knowledge to use.  To recognize when she was using her back-up style (aka verbal attack, but we call it “going to the dark side”) and stop it in its tracks.  She redirected her energy and melt-down was avoided. 

Momma, so proud!

The first step is awareness, and then you have the foundation to do something, to put this knowledge to good use.

I challenge you to:

  1. know more about your nature tendencies or style,
  2. define how it affects interactions with the people in your live and your work, and
  3. pick the element that seems to get in the way the most and choose one simple method to get around it in the future.  You might find the following STOP Interview (from Marcus Buckingham) to be a helpful way to think through this step:
    • Can you just Stop doing that behavior?
    • Can you Team up with someone, Transfer the activity to someone else, or Transition to something different?
    • Can you Offer up one of your strengths as an alternative way to deal with the current situation?
    • Can you simply Perceive this behavior from the perspective of your strengths?

Know, and be Free!

Focus on Learning: 5 Tactics to Fuel Your Mind

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As a grad school graduate, I’ve done a great deal of thinking about how to satiate my renewed appetite for learning and how to keep it alive going forward.  It was surprising how easily I had forgotten my own love for learning and never want to be in that position again.

Recent brain science reveals useful information about how we fuel creativity, innovation, and make go-forward changes in our lives by changing the way we think as well as the health benefits of keeping our minds active.  All are tied to fueling the mind and learning.  So the question to ask yourself is…

What are you doing today to fuel your mind and keep learning?

Following are five tactics to consider:

1. Read Different Things

Not just the usual books or reading material that you have always enjoyed, but stretch yourself to read unexpected topics and resources.  Subscribing to various blogs can be a great way to expand exposure to different fields and perspectives.  One thing I do is to always have a couple of different books going.  For example, I am currently reading about Abraham Lincoln’s rise to the presidency and how he built his unique cabinet (history, politics, leadership and team-building), A Passage to India (a classic historical fiction novel), a couple of books on complexity science, a book on how to be a successful “free agent” in the emerging world of work, a fun teen oriented fiction novel from a series that my daughter is also reading, and I just finished a book about the history of philosophy.

Read more…