Fueling New Goals With Dead Ones

Admitting that your goal is dead is pretty tough. Actually, it fucking sucks. I should know because I am experiencing this very situation as I type. For the past three years, I have only had one main goal in my mind. It is one goal that many of us have in our working lives. To advance ahead. To move into a leadership position.

I seriously worked my ass off to prove I could make an awesome leader. I was passionate and determined to meet that goal. I would look at myself in the mirror every day and tell myself that I would be a leader on my team. Despite my passion for what I do and my skill set, things just did not go according to plan.

Something has changed for me, though. The drive, the motivation, the hunger, that all left. Maybe I am tired fighting for scraps at the table? Maybe I am just emotionally drained? I can feel the goal that I had been so passionate about has expired. It’s time for me to throw out this expired goal so I don’t stink up the kitchen.

If you think that this blog post is negative, it’s not. In fact, so much positivity has been born from this goal failure! This entire situation has inspired me to re-think my passion and what I am doing with my life. At my core, I love to teach. I love to help someone change a behavior and give them a skill they were unable to do before. I also really love traveling and completely dislike corporate politics.

Several years ago, I had researched becoming certified as an ESL teacher and traveling abroad in Europe. I didn’t make much money at the time so I couldn’t afford the tuition or taking time off of work. I started looking into it again recently and found that not only could I afford it now, but it was all online so I could just get certified on my own time. So I signed up!

Once I registered for the course, I lit up with excitement and am still stoked! I begin my training on April 11! This feels right. This feels like the thing I am supposed to be doing. No one knows how happy I am at the prospect of living in Europe for who knows how long and teaching English! I want to go to Kosovo, Czech Republic, and Germany.

Don’t get me wrong, I am scared as fuck about this. I have my family, especially my mother, in the US. I also own a home and a car. I definitely have some logistics to figure out. Luckily I have a while before I do anything. My main focus is just getting certified and getting my teaching hours in right now.

I do not believe that things happen for a reason. I do believe, however, that we all have choices to make when we are faced with a situation. I think I found the positivity in this whole thing and may have just catapulted myself to a different type of success more suited to my personality.

Look for more blog posts about my experience getting TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certified and whatever future steps I take with that.

This song is getting me through this so I don’t lose my nerve:

Surviving Toxic Leadership

Almost twenty years in the work force has taught me a great deal about life and the working world. A class in Organizational Psychology also helped. My biggest takeaways have been about teamwork and leadership. Specifically, what management is versus leadership and the effect that both can have on a person. You might be asking yourself, what is the difference?

Let’s first answer the question and differentiate the two meanings. There have been numerous studies, quotes, speeches, videos, articles, and even memes on what leadership is versus management. I am going to break it down from my perspective and personal experience.

Manager: This is a person who solely focuses on the deadlines and processes of the business. These people are dialed into quotas and the bottom-line as their main focus. They are the ones you punish you when you make a mistake. Generally, this person lacks the emotional/relationship aspect side of their position. Empowerment is almost none because these managers are control freaks. Management is a “one size fits all” box where everyone who reports to them has to conform to them. If orders are being barked from an office chair, it’s coming from this person. These types are seen as unapproachable and are frightened of change, creativity, and/or innovation. They run on fear to keep control. Micro-management excessively.

Leader: This is a person whose sole focus is you. They only focus on your growth and development. They want to make sure that you have the tools that you need to be your best. This person believes that there is strength in difference and conforms to each team member and finds a way to speak each persons’ language. Empowerment and failing forward are highly encouraged from leaders. Instead of punishing a past mistake, they look forward to develop a behavior change. These people work with their people to find new, better, and innovative ways of doing things. These are people who are completely approachable because they have cultivated an environment of trust and respect. A leader will dive into work/issues with you and work with you. Will not micro-manage but will check in.

So, how does each one affect us? If you have been fortunate enough to work under someone who is a true leader, you are lucky. I have had that awesome experience and it was just amazing. I grew leaps and bounds and learned so much about myself and the leader that I am and the leader that have the potential to be. This was all because someone took the time to get to know me and how I tick. Being given the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them made a huge impact in who I am today. I was always so scared of punishment. This freedom was amazing and addicting. It’s hard to come back from that.

It’s that manager that is the problem.  I am sure at some point we have all dealt with that manager described above. This person doesn’t care who you are or how you tick, they just want to make sure you are meeting quotas and bottom-line. You feel confused and lost but don’t feel comfortable asking them questions. You never really interact with them unless you are in trouble. Work becomes unbearable and uncomfortable. They don’t do anything to grow you, so you start to hit a wall pretty quickly.

Managers are the virus that kills creativity and morale. They are the reason that companies lose amazing talent. That is only if you let them though. I am going discuss with you a couple of amazing ideas that I got from The Question Behind The Question (QBQ) book I read a while ago and some valuable things I learned as a trainer to survive toxic leadership known as management.

First and foremost, this is very important, you have to remember the following to be successful:

You cannot change or motivate other people.

We often find ourselves completely frustrated because we want these managers to understand us and change their ways. We can give them the tools they need to motivate or change themselves, but ultimately they have to make the decision to change. They may not want to change. I can give you all the tools you need to learn how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. However, if you do not want to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, then there is nothing I can do to make you.

So what do we do then? Easy. According to QBQ:

Focus on changing the things you can-like yourself.

That’s right, instead of driving yourself crazy with trying to change your boss or wishing for them to change, focus on you. You can change yourself. Think about the challenges you are facing with your boss. Ask yourself “What can I do so that I am not in this situation again?” or “How can I do this better?”

Do you see the difference there? Asking questions like “Why does she treat me like this?” focuses outwardly on the manager, or the person you cannot change. In QBQ, that is called an incorrect question. Focusing our energy on the thing we cannot change will only drive you bonkers and have you beating your head against the wall.

The What and How questions direct back to yourself, the person you can change. These would be the correct questions to ask yourself. When you ask How or What can I do, then the focus stays on you and you will always the power to make a change in yourself. Honestly, that is a lot tougher than it sounds. You will have retrain yourself on how you think and react. I promise you that the payoff is worth it.

The next one is my favorite and also from QBQ:

Be better than the referee.

Think about sports. There is always a referee to manage the game/fight and make sure that everyone is following the rules. Aren’t our managers the same thing? They are there to swiftly punish us when we are out of bounds or use our hands (soccer reference).

This means you have to be better than your managerBe such an amazing employee that the manager just can’t touch you. How can they give you a red card (soccer) if you are doing everything you are supposed to like a rock star?

I can personally attest that these helpful tips really do work. I’ve had my own challenges and this change of thought process has been a huge help for me. I am still not perfect at it and consider myself a work in progress. I feel so much better about myself now though. I no longer am consumed by frustration because I cannot change the person who needs changing. Instead, I dial it back and ask myself the proper questions to focus on myself instead. It’s been working so far!

Remember, you always have the power to change yourself. The redirection of energy from that brick wall you’ve been beating your head against the wall to yourself is going start the change that will make your life better.

Check out this awesome Ted Talk about leadership:


My Experience At McDonald’s

I could post about how livid I am that my car went to shit and how I had to get a tow truck to get my car home. But instead, I am going to tell you about something extraordinary that happened during my car situation.

Since my car stopped working while I was driving it, I pulled over to McDonald’s to call AAA and get a tow truck. I had some time to kill and feelings to stuff, so I went into McDonald’s and got some food. I sat inside to eat it so I could keep an eye out for my tow truck.

While I was sitting there seething over the situation, this young black man, probably still in high school, came over and asked if he could sit with me. While still annoyed and apprehensive (it’s hard to trust people when your identity was just stolen), I said sure. He asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a trainer. He then asked me what I trained, so I told him in a very gump way what I train. He asked me if I like it, and I told him I love it.

He then asked me if I went to school for that. I said no. For me, I learned through experience. He then asked me for advice on getting a job without any experience. I immediately went into trainer/leader mode. I told him how I started working in Servicing 7 years ago in an entry level position where I didn’t know anything. I told him find those type of positions in something he is interested in. From there he can grow and gain experience. My tow truck then showed up so I went outside to get that situated.

While outside, I couldn’t help but think of how awesome that young man was. Then I thought of some more advice to give him so I went back inside to talk to him. I told him in anything that he does, ask questions. Learn. Seek new knowledge. Make yourself the obvious choice. Leaders look for the team members who ask questions and are growing. That is what will lead him to success. He was so excited and couldn’t stop thanking me.

The media does a shitty job of representing our black brothers and sisters, so I wanted to share this great story with everyone. He really touched me and he was the one looking for knowledge.

I’ve Gotta Be Me!

I am experiencing what can only be described as a personal revelation. Something inside me is changing..growing. I feel like the cocoon that I have been encased in is finally breaking away.

My confidence in myself has shifted. It’s like a butterfly spreading its wings for the first time. I would say that I’ve been a person of average confidence. I didn’t hate or love myself more or less than the average person. I have what I considered my weaknesses as well as my strengths.

I am spirited, animated, opinionated and challenging. I love the creative side of everything. I don’t care for the organizational side of the world too much. I am a free spirit. I fly by the seat of my pants and live in the moment. I am loud and swear a lot.

Recently, I have been made to feel that some of those personality traits and who I am have some opportunity for growth. I was really starting to believe that. I felt like I was just doing everything wrong. Just a short while ago I was passed for a promotion that I thought I would for sure get some day. I was pretty disappointed in that whole situation, but I was most disappointed in me. I began to pick through all of things that are wrong with me and why I wasn’t chosen or even considered. I was pretty upset with myself for a short while. But once that passed, I felt a shift in thought. The whole paradigm of who I am started falling into place.

It then struck me…there is nothing wrong with me. The person that I am has plenty of strengths. Even what I considered “weaknesses” are actually strengths. How so you ask? One word: Perspective. The realization that just because someone else does not see the strengths in my personality does not mean they are weaknesses. They are just strengths that are not being utilized by the right people at the right time. I need to stop trying to jam my who I am into someone else’s box or idea of how I “should” be.

Watching this new show on Netflix called Sense8 has helped solidify where I am right now. Sense8 is a dense, character driven tale about connection, spirituality, love, sense-of-self and a host of other dynamics.The show is about 8 people who are telepathically connected and have to rely on each other’s strengths to survive. I am so obsessed with this and I think it is partly because it helped me realize that what I have to offer may not currently be needed, but it will be one day. Maybe a stranger on the street will need my “just do it” personality to save them from a situation, or another opportunity at work will come my way that suits who I am?

There is something liberating about this feeling! My confidence in myself is steadily rising. I had heard that at some point in your life, this confidence comes. You stop giving a shit about what anyone thinks and you stop trying to fit yourself into someone else’s mold. I think that I am having that moment at 33. I am now grateful that the situation that caused all this growth happened.

There is always room for growth and bettering yourself, yes. I agree with that 100%. But growing yourself and changing who you are are two different things. You grow yourself because you want to. You change yourself because someone else wants you to. Focus on you, and be the you that you were meant to be.