Intro & Confessions
I tend to be a lone wolf, so reaching out to others for advice is often hard. Translation: my ego doesn’t like it when I ask for help. Thankfully, I have received unsolicited and solicited advice that has given good direction to my life and the decisions I make. The last time I took the Strengths Finder quiz, my resulting archetype was “Advisor”. So, I like to give advice and guidance, and I am learning to actively seek it.
As a business owner, the decisions I make can affect the revenue of my business and any businesses I hold contracts with. Outside of business, decisions I make can affect my family and friends. Just like anyone reading this post, we all hold many roles in our lives like friend, sibling, aunt/uncle, parent, neighbor, coworker, consultant, boss, etc. Our role models and general approach to life shape how we live day to day in these many roles.
Everyone Has Their Own Agenda
This is a big one! It took a long time for me to understand this simple statement, but it has made a big difference in how I approach relationships and conflicts, especially in the professional world. When a teamwork process or conversation takes a negative turn, I used to think the solution would always be talking through the problem with the hope of improved performance from everyone involved. What I now know is that everyone involved in every team, network, friend, or family has their own individual agenda. This is not a bad thing at all, and it has been valuable for me to internalize this concept. It prevents me from taking the actions of others personally or thinking I have full responsibility to change their behavior to fit my expectations.
Everyone’s agendas are influenced by countless factors and influences including society, community, past experiences, family, supervisors. You name it. Even you and I could not list the infinite number of experiences and people that have shaped the way we currently make decisions and approach our lives. Some people make decisions based on what is best for their children or maybe they consider children they hope to have in the future when making decisions. Others live to work and structure their lives around their work schedule and aspirations. Many of us lead lives with hybrid agendas that serve our professional and personal relationships as well as the relationships we have with ourselves. It doesn’t always seem like that balance is perfect, in my opinion, and it varies day to day.
Another major point following this piece of advice is that we will never fully know the agendas and influences of others’ agendas, just like we may never fully understand our own. We humans are complex, and it is not worth anyone’s energy to try to figure out why so-and-so in the coffee shop never says hi back to you. That was a silly example, but the main point is that other’s actions are largely out of our control.
Efforts in relationship building and repairing as well as team building are valuable and can prevent conflict. Getting to know the people in our lives on a deeper, more personal level can help us connect and have a glimpse into someone’s priorities and major influences in their lives. It can also be very healing to speak on deeper topics and the things that are most important to us. So many of our interactions, especially those online, are brief and don’t offer us opportunities for connection. Those valuable conversations with others can increase our feeling of connectedness and willingness to work for the betterment of the teams or networks we all belong to.
Ask for Help When You Need It
My ego doesn’t like this one. I like to always appear put together and all-knowing, and I rue the day when I don’t meet my own high expectations. I recently realized that when I have been disappointed for not meeting high expectations, they were expectations I had set for myself. No one had set them for me. What the heck, right?
It has been helpful for me to write down expectations I have of myself and expectations others have set for me. That way I can evaluate if I am on the right track at any given time. I often have a vague feeling of not being successful enough, and I am reminded by friends and mentors of the things I have accomplished. This is exacerbated by social media, and I can get sucked into the comparison game of my current situation vs. the seemingly perfect Instagram world of others.
When I find myself feeling low or uncertain, I try to make it a habit to seek help and a new perspective. I look to mentors, friends, and family to guide me depending on the situation. Additionally, I sometimes don’t take time to celebrate my successes. I tend to downplay them and start work on the next milestone achievement. I am always glad when a team member or loved one reminds me to stop, take time, and appreciate a major accomplishment.
No One Can Ruin Your Day Unless You Let Them
I will never forget the day when my mom gave me this advice. It was Mothers’ Day weekend over 10 years ago, and I had planned a dinner and celebration for my mom at home one evening. Wouldn’t you know it, but my brothers chose that day to pick on me in a way that only brothers can do. They used all their tricks to get under my skin and generally be annoying and bothersome. I had had enough, and I was telling my mom how upset I was. I just wanted to focus on celebrating with her. I was close to tears, and she told me, they can’t ruin your day unless you let them.
Dang, Mom. That’s what I needed to hear. I realized that I could choose to go on with my plans and work to control my emotions, with or without my brothers behaving themselves. Focusing on the plan and the purpose (celebrating my mom) allowed me to move on and enjoy myself. Since then, I have had people try to ruin my day when much more was at stake than one dinner. I have had to combine both pieces of advice covered so far to handle those situations and move on with my life.
Take Up Space
This phrase alone reminds me to pull my shoulders back and focus on what really matters. It shrinks my insecurities and makes me feel powerful. I wish every young person, especially young women, were reminded to take up space as they grow up. Taking up space is something I was never explicitly told that I was allowed or encouraged to do. I like the concept, because it gives one freedom to simultaneously be powerful, make mistakes, speak up, and be proud of who you are. The phrase does not come with any prerequisites like, be perfect, or be a certain size, shape, or color. It just allows you to take up space in places where you usually feel like shrinking or downplaying yourself, your ideas, or your actions. Take up space in your home life, work like, and in your own mind.
I have always admired Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx. She is a poster child for taking up space. She created opportunities for herself and found ways to take up space literally and figuratively in the retail world as she marketed a product that no one had heard of before. Because of her tenacity and boldness, Spanx is now a household name. She has gone on to inspire countless business leaders and women around the world. Keep taking up space, Sara.
You Cannot Plan the Future
I’ll keep this one brief, because I think everyone knows it to an extent. I am a planner, and I love when my life fits neatly into a calendar or spreadsheet. I like to think I can set expectations and plans for the future, but, to date, I haven’t planned any of my major life events. I am grateful for the unexpected and larger than life blessings I have received and not once planned for. If you asked me how my life would play out, I could tell you what I think. There is almost no possibility that any of it will go according to my plans, and I am totally ok with that.
Thinking back about the advice I have received over the years brought back some good memories and good thoughts of people who have my best interest in mind. I generally don’t enjoy asking for help, but doing so has served me everytime in big and small ways. My ego gets in the way sometimes, but hearing outside perspectives has opened my mind and given me better decision making power time and time again.
What is some advice you’ve received and fall back on? Maybe consider thinking of a good piece of advice you have used and reaching out to who gave it to you. You could thank them and let them know how you have used their advice to make a decision or change your mindset during a hard time. They will probably really appreciate you reaching out.
What advice do you wish someone had given you in the past? Can you give that piece of advice to someone who is in a similar situation? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to reach out using the Contact page!