2010 Lessons Learned

Another year has passed and I am left wondering where the time went. I need a new clock with 30 hours a day instead of 24, because 24 isn’t cutting it. Even with the measly 24 hours per day, a lot happened in 365 days. Today I reflected on how many things changed in my life this past year and what I learned as a result. Some changes I consciously focused on throughout the year, while other opportunities randomly presented themselves. Here are my takeaways for the year…

Friendship:
Over the year I developed some new friendships and ended some old ones. Such is the circle of life I suppose. The idea of friends coming and going made me think about relationships in general. Whether with your spouse, your friend or just a new acquaintance, if you cannot communicate and respect each other, then you cannot connect. Connections are very important in our daily life. What is wrong with wishing the cashier at the market a happy holiday? The concept of connecting with people seems obvious, until you realize that some people can’t or won’t always tell you their true feelings (duh, they are not communicating!). Also, what you see on the surface may not be the reality. We all have problems and challenges in our lives, so why can’t we share them? Isn’t that what friendship is for? This year I realized more connecting and sharing (even the worst part of our lives or ourselves) felt a lot better than hiding behind conversations about the weather.

Respect:
Respect seems to be something you earn by placing boundaries around yourself. Not the unhealthy kind of boundaries made of steel bars or moats with alligators, but the kind where people are forced to treat you like a person, not a doormat. I learned this year that pushing back definitely worked. When you demonstrate to others that you respect yourself first, then they can respect you next. I didn’t let family, friends, or customers at work push me around this year and I was a lot happier as result. I highly recommend it.

Communication:
I spent a lot of time communicating this year and I am not sure the message or the end result always turned out the way I wanted. Sometimes I had to tell people things they didn’t want to hear OR listen to things I didn’t want to hear. “What?”, you say, you didn’t know that LISTENING was part of communication? No one wants to hear they lost a job or be ‘unfriended’, however, I experienced new doors of opportunity that opened when old ones closed. Accepting the situation and dealing with next steps was lot more fun that sitting around wondering ‘why me’?

Hope:
People talk about hopes and wishes, but that is total crap. If you really want something, you decide what you want and then go out and make it happen. I want to be the person making things happen, not sitting around waiting for it. I recall a friend from years ago who wanted to get married and have a family, yet she sat around her apartment waiting for Prince Charming ( or some guy named Steve) to show up at her door. You cannot depend on others to fulfill your dreams. We are responsible for our own destiny. Instead of hope, you need action.

Community:
So many people this year talked about the sense of community (or lack of it.) What happened to the small town feeling where everyone knew you and your kids? What about lending your neighbor a cup of sugar? Unfortunately whether living in big cities or suburbs, people are divided instead of brought together. Letting the neighbor kids come by for a visit so another mom can get a much-needed break seems an obvious thing to do in a community, but who am I to say anything with cinder block 6′ high walls around my house? I may have the physical walls, but I am trying to remove the mental walls, at least for myself. Hopefully others will find the removal of the mental walls liberating too.

The more I learn in life, the more I realized how little I know. I can only hope that 2011 brings as many opportunities to learn, just different ones than 2010 – because honestly, I don’t want to relive the year. Hello 2011!

Where is our sense of Community?

Yesterday as part of my job hunt I attended a local nonprofit group event called Southwest Job Network that was held at Temple Chai (yes there are Jewish people in Arizona). There were a number of people there for the new member orientation (those who were newly unemployed or just new to events with this organization.) Right away I felt negative vibes. I was sensing anger and frustration from many of the people. Maybe I am weird because I am so upbeat about everything so it was hard for me to see myself in that place, that place called “negativity-land”. I wondered if this is where I would end up if it took me 9 months or a year to find a new job despite additional education, training, resume rewrites, and interview coaching. I was trying to stay positive in place that at that particular moment seemed overwhelmingly negative, which to be honest is expected when people lose their livelihood and often their identity.

The feeling changed as soon as the guest speaker came in. The speaker at the event, Bill True discussed “Shame-less Self-Promotion”. I really loved his presentation. Anyone who gets the opportunity to see him speak should take the opportunity. I walked away with the idea that people like to ‘volunteer’ versus being told what to do and hiring managers like to hire people who are also selfless. It made complete sense and really goes against so many things being taught to job seekers. Managers are people and they want to hire people. Real people not robots!

From a personal perspective I recognize that I would want to hire the person who would do whatever it takes to make a project successful and not just a person who met all the qualifications. I want the person who would volunteer to clean the bathroom or take out the trash (if those were actual job duties) because the team has to work toward the needs of the greater good . No, not just the company greater good, the team! Team is the family you call co-workers, or something called community. (Hey, as the leader I will also take out the trash!)

I found it strange that I had to lose my job to see the loss in community all around me. I like to believe that every one of us has something to give or something to share. A kind word, assistance with a resume, a job lead, or even helping a person cross the street. Where has chivalry gone? (This isn’t just directed at men, it applies to women too.) The random acts of kindness are rare but cherished. What are you going to do to help someone today?