Monday, January 16, 2012

Celebrating Diversity!

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. today, let us all think about the value of diversity in this nation. Diversity is much more than skin color, race or sex, even if those factors make up the unique people we are. But it's diversity of thought that is truly important. Each person has their own ideas and beliefs. We each have the ability to make our own decisions and act as we see fit. In the end we each have our own opinion on how to do things the right way.

This diversity of thought can sometimes cause problems - especially when two people don't see eye-to-eye. But that's the beauty of diversity, we all don't have to agree. We only have to agree to disagree. We have to understand that everyone has their own values and opinions and that they should all be respected.

One of the most detrimental habits we have as people is the tendency to "group think" - we don't follow our own beliefs because it doesn't follow that of the greater group. It takes a strong person to stand up and disagree, especially when it's not the "accepted" thing to do. But by voicing your opinion, and doing what you believe, you're celebrating diversity.

Take a minute today to appreciate the true value of diversity. I hope one day everyone across the world will truly believe Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream that, "all men are created equal."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Charismatic Leadership Inspires!

I recently read an interesting article from Psychology Today called, "Charisma: What is it? Do you have it?" In it they define charisma as a, "constellation of complex and sophisticated social and emotional skills. They allow charismatic individuals to influence other as a deep emotional level, to communication effectively with them, and to make stronger interpersonal connections."

As a social person by nature, I'm always inspired when I meet a charismatic leader. They make me feel energized, ready to take on the world. They often times see the glass as half-full and talk about possibilities of the future rather than dwelling on the past. They look for solutions rather than road blocks and their positive attitude is contagious.

The strange thing is that charismatic leaders are sometimes criticized for the same great things that make them stand out from the crowd: their ability to connect with people, their optimism and their sincerity. I know there's always good in finding a balance, especially when you have a strong personality, but I also know that the great leaders in this world have one thing in common - charisma. It's the one trait that will stand the test of time.

What charismatic leaders have inspired you? More than 15 years have passed since I met the most influential person in my life - it was one of my high school English teachers. His name is Bruce Saulpaugh. He was unconventional and thought-provoking. I could listen to him talk for hours about about philosophy and his life experiences. You could feel his charisma every day when you walked into class, and he was my inspiration for becoming a writer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Feeling Guilty for Not Having Mom Guilt

I read a really good blog post the other day from the Culture Mom called “To Work or Not to Work.” She talks about her regret of quitting her full-time job after the birth of her two children. I laughed as I read through her story because it rang true to me. I did the very same thing years ago after my first child was born. I left my wonderful job in corporate communications for a Fortune 500 company to be a full time stay-at-home mom. It was the life that I thought I always wanted. My mom was home when I was little and I guess I always assumed I would want the same thing when I had children. I could imagine the endless days of crafting and playing, enjoying my children and cuddling on the couch. Ha! Ha! Ha! Fast forward three kids later and that dream of a life had turned into a bad reality tv show. I spent all day playing referee to fighting toddlers. I never looked nice, never felt nice. I wore sweat pants and maternity shirts for probably 1000 days in a row. I spent my days changing diapers, making bottles, and getting food thrown at me (or worse – spit up on me!). I found myself unhappy, unhealthy and uncertain of my decision. Not quite what I had in mind.

I eventually went back and much like the Culture Mom, I think I’m happier as a career-mom. Maybe it’s my internal drive to climb the career ladder, or my social personality, or maybe the fact that I was bored silly by being at home, but coming back to work was the best decision for me. I love connecting with people; I love writing; I love being challenged each day. The deadlines and the pressure motivates me and working with high-level career women inspires me.

There’s only one thing I feel guilty about and that’s not having the mom guilt. I don’t sit at work and feel bad for not being there. I don’t yearn for the days of being home with my kids. I don’t even really give it much thought other than when I talk to other career-moms who feel the same way. I kinda feel guilty for not feeling guilty… strange, I know. But there is one thing I know - being a career-mom rocks.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Power of Intrinsic Motivation

What motivates you? What drives you to do your best each day at work and/or home? Is it something internal - a desire to accomplish your personal goals and perform something truly meaningful to you? Or is it something external like a big salary, a nice car or a fancy house?

I read an interesting article the other day on building and motivating teams. It focused on the importance of intrinsic motivation - the motivation that comes from within a person, as opposed to extrinsic motivation, which is tied to external rewards. According to the article, the best way to motivate a team is to fill it with people that truly care about what they do. Not because of the great benefits, but just because they really love it.

After thinking about it more in-depth, I'd have to agree. When I'm at work I'm motivated by working on projects that inspire me, things that I care about and believe in. I'm happier when I work on those types of projects and in the end that makes me want to work harder. One example is diversity. It's a passion of mine, probably because my family is diverse by having a child with special needs.

I've had the opportunity to work on a few projects that focus on diversifying the workforce in our company and I really enjoyed it. Connecting with all types of people, and seeing how their unique talents can come together to make an organization stronger, really inspired me. I wasn't paid any more to do the work (most of it was actually done after-hours on a volunteer basis) but I was motivated.

I think everyone is still motivated by money and job titles (there wouldn't be a corporate ladder if we weren't!) but doing what you love is just as important. If you don't believe in what you do, or what you sell, then no one will believe in you!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Life of a Pretend Structuralist

Almost a month ago our team at work took a test called "Emergenetics" - simply put, it's a brain-based assessment of thinking and behavior. I love this kind of stuff, I think it's so interesting. Not just learning about my personality, but also learning about the rest of my team. It's really a fun way to see what makes people tick and I think it would be great if everyone had it done and then walked around with a little sticker on their shirt showing their profile so that you knew what to expect!... ok, maybe that's going too far. But I think it's extremely helpful, especially when you're working with someone on a project.

So after taking the test online, I tried to guess what my thinking makeup would be. You end up falling into four categories: Social, Conceptual, Structural and Analytical. I figured I'd be two things: social and structural. I love meeting/talking/working with people and I love organization! HA!!! Here were my actual results...

Social - 59%, Conceptual - 25%, Analytical - 11% and Structural - 5%! WHAT?!??! The Queen of Organization has been living a SHAM! I'm not structural at all! I sat there stunned. Now you probably wonder why anyone would actually care, but I did. I've always felt like I'm a pretty well-organized Virgo. I love charts, lists, spreadsheets. timelines... they make me happy. I'm an addict of the label maker, I could color-code organizing bins all day. I'm envious of the perfectly organized closets on tv. But then it dawned on me... I'm NOT structural at all. I'm a MESS! I'm CONCEPTUAL! My brain is all over the place! It never stops - I can go from point A to Z in 2 minutes flat. My house looks like a bomb went off on it at any time. I wake up writing in my head - and unless I jot it down, the ideas will just keep flowing. I can't keep track of my debit card, my keys, or anything that isn't strapped to me. I just use organizing, charting and making lists as a way to "calm down" my conceptual side of my personality! WOW - what an a-ha moment I had.

I then realized something else. I love living in chaos. I love it when things are all over the place, when I have 10 deadlines at once, when I'm working on multiple projects, when things change. Chaos is a motivator to me. It keeps me going fast, it keeps me focused. The minute things get too calm, I get bored and I can't focus. Maybe it's the adrenaline, or maybe it's just because that's how I'm hard-wired, but at least now I know that structure isn't what makes me happy - it's having chaos, something new and exciting, that keeps me going.

I'm all right-brained and proud of it!

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