February 12, 2009

Changing My View – from empty to full

Posted in Life at 9:47 pm by Katelyn

Glass Half Empty or Half FullI know and have known that I tend to be a pessimistic person. I have trouble being bubbly and happy all the time and I’m not good at faking something when I don’t feel it. But up until last night, I always assumed that I was just predisposed to this way of thinking and that I should blame the genes I was given. I want to put a disclaimer on that – I don’t know that I truly believed I was hard-wired this way, but rather that I accepted it as who I am rather than thinking about change. But after a couple weeks, months of not being excited about much at all, and those feelings just feeding the thoughts about my so-called boring life, I have decided to take a stand and make a change.

This is not going to be easy. I am changing the way my mind has been trained to think for years. So, where to start?

First of all, I’m making my commitment public, which is what I’m doing now. I’ve also let those who are closest to me know about my new goal and I’ve asked them to make me aware of when I am not being positive. I definitely won’t be able to catch all of the slip-ups on my own!

Second, I am going to return to my lost habit of journaling. I used to journal almost everyday as a way to calm my over-active mind, but this has gotten pushed to the side as other things fill my day. So I will write every day, or every other day and include 1-2 positive things that happened or that I accomplished that day.

Third, I am going to pick up some reading materials at the library. My mom actually suggested “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” which is a book I have often thought of reading. Anyone have any other suggestions?

Bear with me on this! I’ll keep you updated as to how it’s going.

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February 3, 2009

Finding What You’ve Lost

Posted in Life, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:07 pm by Katelyn

It’s obvious that as we grow and mature we change and with the changes we often lose bits and pieces of ourselves. Of course we gain so much with change, but I’m going to talk about finding something I had forgotten I lost.

When I was in college and then recently graduated, I considered myself a somewhat trendy dresser. I enjoyed the adventure of putting together an outfit and

Carrie Bradshaw pushing the envelope

Carrie Bradshaw pushing the envelope

pushing the envelope if it was appropriate. But all that seemed to slowly disappear when I started working full time and a year ago took a job in marketing on a Fortune 500 account. In came the black slacks, dress shirts, and jackets, but not because that was the customer’s standard dress code, but because I had this preconceived notion of how a full-time working adult dressed.

Then a few weeks ago I ran across a local blogger documenting her everyday attire. When I saw the way she put pieces together and took chances, it triggered my memory and had me thinking of myself a couple years ago. I realized that I had lost something that I enjoyed, something that made me feel good about myself. And it was not a necessary loss, because despite the corporate clients, the atmosphere is still a creative one and open to some pizazz.

I know to some, fashion, trends, and accessories are trivial things, and I say, that’s true – they are. But the point is that while growth causes the shedding of the old for the new, sometimes we shed something we didn’t need to and finding it (no matter how small or trivial) can be just what we need.

September 22, 2008

My City – Los Angeles

Posted in Life tagged at 9:20 pm by Lindsay

To most people, L.A. is a joke.  An overly-tanned, smog-filled, traffic-jammed superficial joke.  For me, it’s been the most exciting adventure of my life. 

When I enthusiastically respond to the question “how are you liking L.A.?” I get the feeling that most of the time, people think I’m exaggerating.  That I’m justifying my choice to move here.  That I have to keep convincing myself that I made the right decision.  Really, who loves L.A.? 

I do. 

I’ve had experiences here I couldn’t have had anywhere else.  I got to work as an artist escort on the Grammy red carpet where I literally ran into the biggest names in music (sorry, Tony Bennett).  I listened to Kirk Douglas reminisce about his experiences making the epic Spartacus.  I worked on a studio lot where everyday, I walked by movies and television shows in production.  I’ve watched friends play a show at the Roxy on Sunset.  I’ve gone to tapings of “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and “Deal or No Deal” on a whim.  I watched Kid Rock open a bottle of beer in his mouth backstage at a Kenny Chesney concert.  I’ve listened to the producer of Roman Holiday tell stories about Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, and the Golden Age of Hollywood.  For someone working in the entertainment industry, Los Angeles is it.  

In L.A. I feel like I’m on vacation 11 months out of the year.  It’s not unusual to make a trip to the beach in January.  I can’t remember the last time I wore real shoes instead of flip-flops.  When I wear a scarf, it’s because the air conditioning in my office is too cold.   

I’ve noticed that L.A. gets a bad rap for lack of culture.  What signifies culture? Museums?  Visit the J. Paul Getty Museum and see for yourself the brushstrokes of Van Gogh’s “Irises” and various works by Monet, Manet, and Renoir – for FREE.  Educational institutions?  ULCA and USC (among others) infiltrate the city with their academic pursuits.  History?  The abundance of historic missions give insight into California’s development.  Or go a little farther into the past by perusing Ice Age fossils at the La Brea Tar Pits.   Architecture?  Go admire the many buildings designed by Frank Gehry or Frank Lloyd Wright.   Artistic communities?  North Hollywood is a creative conglomerate of Bohemian locals pursuing acting, art, and writing.  For the performing arts, catch the L.A. Philharmonic at the world-renown Walt Disney Concert Hall, or be part of an act’s live album recording at the Greek Amphitheater in Griffith Park – one of the largest urban parks in the country.     

One of the best things about Los Angeles is that living in the city is about as urban as you can get, but at the same time you don’t have to go far to get away from it all.  There are numerous canyons to hike, state parks to camp in, and trails to bike.  Take a short drive north on the Pacific Coast Highway and suddenly it’s just you and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.   

As glamorous and surreal as some of my experiences have been, I’m also aware of the realities of living in Los Angeles.  It is expensive.  I pay three times in rent what I would at home in Seattle or at school in Nashville.  Gas is consistently 25 to 50 cents more per gallon than most parts of the country.  Traffic is bad, but it’s predictable.

Is L.A. superficial?  If you hang out in Beverly Hills or spend weekend nights in line outside the club du jour then sure, you’ll find people who buy into the L.A. “image”.  But I can honestly say that 95 percent of the people I’ve met here are intelligent, down-to-earth, interesting, and genuinely kind.

I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and the South and have great affection for the other cities I’ve spent time in.  But if you’re looking for adventure, nothing comes close to L.A.

June 16, 2008

Verbal Fluency

Posted in Life, On the Job tagged , at 8:33 pm by Katelyn

Read With The Lobsters! – Every weekend, Katelyn and Lindsay discuss the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi in an effort to sharpen networking skills.

Chapter 17, The Art of Small Talk, is great because it’s one of those chapters that allows you to walk away feeling confident that you have the tools to improve one small skill within the massive toolbox for networking. The reason it should be easy to master? It is simply about being honest and listening. Ferrazzi states, and I agree, that having the skill of easy conversation is not something you are born with, it is something you learn. And there should be motivation to learn, because the most common characteristic of successful people is verbal fluency. So let’s aim to master it.

It is easy to spot those who are uncomfortable, or who have yet to master the skills of small talk – they are the ones who can’t stop commenting on the rain we are supposed to get this afternoon or how hot it is outside. Sure those conversation starters are fine for a quick brush with a colleague when you really don’t want to have a conversation that lasts longer than 15 seconds, but when you want to connect with someone you have to be more memorable than the weather.

One of my favorite passages from this chapter reads, “I’ve always told people I believe that every conversation you have is an invitation to risk revealing the real you. What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t respond in kind. So what. They probably weren’t worth knowing in the first place. But if the risk pays off, well, now you’ve just turned a potentially dull exchange into something interesting or even perhaps personally insightful — and more times than not, a real relationship is formed” (p. 147).

I completely relate to that. I would have said that up until maybe even a few months ago, I would have tailored my conversation topics to match my co-workers or whoever I was with, because the real me didn’t “appear” to fit in with them. But if I would have applied Ferrazzi’s words, I could have risked revealing the real me, and even if a great relationship didn’t come of it, maybe we would have had some interesting conversation between two “different” people. I also agree with being up front about your vulnerabilities. I have formed some of the best working relationships in my current job by being up front and saying that I’m not sure of what I’m doing. The majority of the time, the other person didn’t know either and then we could commiserate together and it resulted in us having a stronger bond.

The other half of learning the art of small talk, is learning the art of listening. People feel important when you make them the center of your attention and play off of what they are saying. Ask questions based on their last statement or tag team their thought to lead into yours. Always pay attention to names and say it again at the end of the conversation – “let’s get coffee sometime Lindsay. I’d love to hear more about that show you’re working on.”

So be observant at work or school or when you’re out in public. Listen to other people’s conversational styles and pick out what you like and use it as your own. Be all honesty and all ears and you will be on your way to mastering verbal fluency!

June 8, 2008

Effortless Consequence

Posted in Life tagged , at 2:34 pm by Katelyn

Read With The Lobsters! – Every weekend, Katelyn and Lindsay discuss the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi in an effort to sharpen networking skills.

“When your day is fueled by passion, filled with interesting people to share it with, reaching out will seem less like a challenge or a chore and more like an effortless consequence of the way you work” (p. 104).

This is the final paragraph of chapter 12 – Share Your Passions – and I took away more from these few lines than I took away from the other 5 pages in this chapter.

Go ahead, read that closing paragraph again…

Ferrazzi is calling us to a life where networking isn’t really networking, it’s simply being excited enough about your passions that you want/need to share that with others.  Then it’s continuing to FILL your life with interesting people, whether they be fully interested in your passions or passions of their own.   So to me, this isn’t really about networking at all, but about finding the passion in your life and then seeing it as your responsibility to  spread it.

It’s true when you think about it – people who are in love with something, whether it’s their business, music, politics, a community organization, etc. you get wrapped up in it and you feel a connection to that person.  You feel vested in their passions because you see the way it makes them feel.  That can be one strong network.

So what about those of us who are still in search of that passion that can’t be contained and has to be shared?  I think that we start our networks based on those who share our interests.  We can easily form connections with people who enjoy running as much as we do, or who enjoy the same band that we love.  So we start from there as we continue to soul search and experience as much as possible in our search for our passions.  When we’ve found that fire, whenever it may be, that is when we will be able to form connections with all types of people who will be drawn in by the excitement we have for what we believe in.  Our network will be an effortless consequence of the way we live.

June 2, 2008

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

Posted in Life tagged , , at 9:34 pm by Katelyn

I recently had to make yet another big decision in my life.  And by big decision I mean anything that will affect my daily life for a possible extended amount of time.  In the week and a half of torture that I went through in weighing my options and finally putting myself behind my decision, I learned something about myself that I am writing down so I remember it and future decisions will feel less like purgatory…

My initial reaction/feeling when first posed with my alternate option or decision is really my gut instinct speaking to me and that is ultimately what will make me happiest.

I have many friends, family members, and mentors whose opinions and insight I value very much.  Because of this, when a decision is placed in front of me I feel that I cannot make a choice until I have heard the thoughts of these people.  While they always stretch my mind and get me to consider different perspectives, I am influenced by them and sometimes in directions that are not in line with my heart.

That initial reaction that we have to something, anything, is what we think before we think and before we are affected by external factors like opinions, money, status, etc.   I know that decisions are hardly ever that black and white, but I think that listening to our heart and going with our gut is what we should strive for in the majority of our decisions.

In the end a decision must be made and we will never know whether we made the right one, but at least we made one and we stayed true to ourselves in doing so.

May 15, 2008

Lessons From Kindergarten

Posted in Life tagged , at 9:25 pm by Lindsay

In the play “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten”, based off the book by Robert Fulghum, there’s a scene where a teacher is asking a group of kids a series of questions.  When the teacher asks, “Who here can draw well?” the entire class emphatically raises their hands shouting “I can!” and “I’m a great artist!”  The children give the same response when the teacher asks “Who is good at sports?” and “Who here can sing really well?”  Then the kids disappear and are replaced with a classroom full of college kids.  When asked the same set of questions, only one or two raise their hands.  The others respond with statements like “That’s not my major” and “I’ve never taken lessons or anything”. 

 

For me, this scene illustrates a really interesting point about a difference in attitudes at different ages.  Obviously, as we grow older we develop a keener sense of our own talents when compared to others.  No, not everyone in the world can sing “well” or draw “well”.  But why should that stop our enthusiasm?

 

I’ve overheard people being recruited for the church choir say that they’re not a good enough singer to join the choir while expressing an enjoyment of singing.  Who cares if you’re not Renee Fleming??  If you have fun singing, sing!  Same thing with friends wanting to join the intramural leagues in college.  Gee, I really like to play basketball, but I’m not good enough to join a team, they say.  Who cares if you can’t make a three-pointer??  If you have fun playing basketball, play basketball!!

 

I think it’s tragic that when we age, we let our perception of standards inhibit us from enjoying things that we’re not especially talented at.  Think of all the fun we’re missing out on.  Think of all the experiences we’re missing out on.  Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that life isn’t always about being good or being the best, sometimes it’s just about enjoying ourselves.     

May 5, 2008

Making a Life Not a Living

Posted in Life tagged , , at 9:25 pm by Katelyn

If you’ve ever had a job that was not quite your ideal job, you know the feeling that comes with the common question, “what is it that you do?”  That slight drop in your stomach, the eyes that break contact, and the tendency to speak at a much lower frequency in hopes that the questioner will not catch your entire response.  It’s not that we don’t do our jobs well or that we despise them, it’s more that we would rather be responding with the job we have always seen ourselves doing.

It’s moments like these when I wish our society would value people’s lives rather than their positions.  I wish we could respond with what we do when the clock hits 5:00p.m. and our own lives begin.  Aren’t those post-5p.m. activities where we find the most in common with others?  Sure we can make professional contacts by professing our job title, but the true connections are made by finding a similar activity enjoyed outside of work.  Besides, my time outside of work is far more interesting because that is the time when I do my best thinking.  I brainstorm ways to learn and I think long and hard about what job would be my dream job (not all of us know!).

Instead of a project manager, I would respond with, “I am a reader, a singer, a philosopher, a blogger, a runner, an artist…”  These titles tell more of the story of my life than my job title.

As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life.'”

April 20, 2008

A New Approach

Posted in Careers, Life tagged , , at 8:33 pm by Lindsay

Read With The Lobsters! – Every weekend, Katelyn and Lindsay discuss the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi in an effort to sharpen networking skills.

Networking is no longer a dirty word. 

Until now, I’ve always felt that networking was just a nice way of saying “using people” and I’m sure to some people, that’s all it is.  But Ferrazzi explains that in reality, networking is all about helping people.  He says,

“The more people you help, the more help you’ll have and the more help you’ll have helping others.  It’s like the Internet.  The more people who have access, and use it, the more valuable the Internet becomes.” Page 16

When you think of networking in this light, it becomes easier and more fun.  View networking as a way of contributing value to the whole group, and know that you are not the only beneficient.  The more people you help, the greater your network of connections become.  No matter what level of your career you’re at, there are always people you can help.  Keep your eyes open for situations where you can be of service to a friend or colleague. 

Ferrazzi says that another way to make networking more positive is to involve your passions in the process.  He suggests ideas like bringing someone along to participate in a shared hobby or a mid-day coffee break at a cafe – something other than a standing meeting in an office.  I think this is a great way to shift the focus onto making a friend, instead of just making a business connection.  It’ll make the relationship more personal and more beneficial for all involved. 

What are your views about networking?  What are the best ways you’ve found to connect with people?

April 17, 2008

Following Your Bliss

Posted in Careers, Life tagged , , at 11:03 pm by Lindsay

Read With The Lobsters! – Every weekend, Katelyn and Lindsay discuss the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi in an effort to sharpen networking skills.

Okay, so I’m a little late with this post, but that’s what I get for waiting until the last minute to do my taxes.

The concept that jumped out at me the most was Ferrazzi’s idea of the “blue flame”.  He says,

“We all have our own loves, insecurities, strengths, weaknesses, and unique capabilities.  And we have to take those into account in figuring where our talents and desires intersect.  That intersection is what I call your ‘blue flame’ – where passion and ability come together.  When that blue flame is ignited within a person, it is a powerful force in getting you where you want to go.” Page 26

 So often the question of what we’re meant to do in life or what career will make us happiest is overwhelming.  This “blue flame” idea is a great way to go about answering those questions.  You make a list of your greatest joys and another list of your greatest strengths, and wherever those criss-cross can lead you to a career you’ll be passionate about.  This can also be a great red flag as to your fufillment in your current job.  If you make a list of the things you’re passionate about and your current career isn’t related to any of those passions, chances are you’re not as fulfilled from work as you could be. 

The hardest part for me is not discovering what I’m passionate about, but discovering what I’m most passionate about.  I’m the type of person that when I like things, I like them a lot.  (Any Journey fans out there??)  So when I think about my passions, I end up with a longer list than I know what to do with.  I suppose this is a good problem to have, but I really can never decide what my ultimate passion is.  In a previous post called “Question My Sanity“, Katelyn and others made lists of daring career and life choices that could replace their current plans.  I believe I would be truly happy doing any of those things I listed.  I also am quite happy in my current field.  Which one of these is my truest passion?  How do I decide? 

Maybe I don’t have to.  It would be no use to me to put pressure on myself to decide which path I should pursue if that means not taking the time to enjoy the one I’m on.  It’d kind of be like worrying about how to be happy instead of just being happy.  I like my field.  It’s exciting and interesting and I have a steady income.  So for now, I’ll just enjoy it.  If there ever comes a time when I’m not as thrilled, I have those other fields to try my hand at.  In the meantime, I’ll work in those other passions as extra-curriculars.   

How about you guys?  Is anyone else torn between more than one passion?  Do you wonder whether there’s a career that you would like more or be more suited to?

 

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