My “Mistake” Was Letting You Convince Me I Make “Mistakes”

mistake

I’m feeling a bit caddy tonight.  Maybe a tad facetious.  May even a little irritable.  But it’s all good, because I write my best posts in this state of mind!!! (doesn’t give me much hope for my career…)

So you may be wondering about the title.  It’s all good, I don’t think I’m perfect.  I realize I have moments where unuseful words leave my mouth, or I make a poor decision, or slip up on a project.  It happens quite a lot actually, hehe.

I used to hate myself for this.  I used to beat the crap out of myself for my awkward social moments or for letting someone down or for choosing something that caused me to take two steps back instead of two steps forward.  And you know what?  I’m done with that.  Those days are over.  I gained nothing from dragging myself down like that as a result of my own criticism or the criticism of someone else.  And one of the reasons I’ve been able to get past it and leave it all behind is because I’ve let go of this one simple word: mistake.

I’M OVER IT.

This word does us a disservice.  I’ve been trying to figure out why and I’ve come to the conclusion that words like “mistake” (to include “screw up”, “sin”, “blunder”, and many more) do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING except express a judgement about the situation.  They don’t tell you what happened, they don’t explain the problem, and they definitely don’t provide any solution.  In fact, you might even say that they imply that there is NO solution.  How is that helpful??

I recall many a time in my younger years, finding myself caught in stereotypical “screw-up” at work or with a loved one.  Inevitably, my boss or friends or whatever would say “What were you thinking??  What happened??  How is this possible?”.  (by the way, these questions serve no purpose either – in and of themselves they are very useful questions, but the implication is typically to pass intense judgement on the idiocy of the sinner rather than seek for practical understanding).  My go-to response after years of failed attempts to actually answer those questions honestly (which clearly failed for the above reasons) became “I don’t know, I just, I screwed up.  I don’t know, I just made a mistake, I’m a total idiot.”  And then hoped that throwing myself before their proverbial altar would grant me forgiveness, or at the very least a break from the yelling.

Which of course, would come eventually.  And we’d move on having learned nothing and having accomplished nothing.  Actually, that’s not entirely true: my judger would have accomplished a feeling of satisfaction having appropriately “punished” the do-badder, and I would have walked away with an increased feeling of insufficiency and addiction to perfectionism.

Wait, how is that helpful??

It’s not.  It’s just.  Not.  I’m not writing this to criticize the people who overreact about mistakes – we’re all human, and impatience and ego come just SO naturally to every single one of us.  But I think this kind of situation is where “mistake” and “sin” got their bad rap.  So, focusing on the screw-upper in this scenario, let’s do what my lovely sister calls “reframing the situation”.

First, let’s get rid of those pesky, nasty, useless words.  Go on, throw them out the window!  Use your crime of choice – murder, arson, abandonment… I like to imagine boxing the words into a pile of broken pieces, throwing them in the back of a trash compactor, then bagging them with a block of cement and dropping into the depths of the ocean with a nuclear bomb tied to the side.  But that’s just me.

And now, since words are kind of helpful for understanding, we’ll have to pick some new words to describe what has happened in these difficult situations.  Yay, shopping!!  I’ve found it very helpful to focus on the boutique that sells the “mis”‘s.  Misunderstanding.  Miscommunication.  Misapprehension.  Misstatement.  See how much nicer those are?  It’s a bit ironic because technically “mistake” is a “mis”.  But it’s taken on a life of it’s own in our language and no longer means strictly to “misinterpret” or “mis-take” as in the scene of a movie.  So we exiled it to a remote island.  But not a cool one.  A lonely, rocky, burning one with weird bugs.

So, anyways, let’s try these new words in a sentence.  Here’s the scenario: I just finished a project for my boss and it turns out she wanted it in a different format.  How do I respond?  Pulling my sentence from earlier:

“I don’t know, I just, I misunderstood.”

Oh my goodness!!!  Do you hear that?!?!  That’s the sound of pure, unadulterated self-non-judgementalness and – get this – understanding!  You misunderstood.  It explains what happened – it’s OK to misunderstand.  It happens all the time to normal, strong, well-adjusted adults.

Now what happens next on the part of the other person could go many different directions, and you may have to spend sometime reiterating your new words to yourself to remind yourself that you don’t deserve their judgement, but that’s ok.  Because you’ve now communicated to yourself that what happened has an explanation, and that no judgement towards yourself is needed.  If the person you are working with is in a reasonable state of mind you can now begin to improve your relationship – how did the misunderstanding happen?  What words were used that do not have similar meanings for both of you?  What was assumed in the communication by either party?

Of course, obviously, old habits die hard so getting used to viewing yourself in such an accepting manner will take time – I am still working on this big-time – but you’ve made the first step!

Word of caution – be careful about finding ways to use these words in a way that unnecessarily inflicts the blame all on yourself.  For example, the word “miscommunicate” is best used as “we miscommunicated” rather than “I miscommunicated”.  A miscommunication requires two people – just because you are the subordinate worker or the newbie doesn’t mean you should carry the full load of the problem.  Even in a situation where you “misunderstood”, there is the element of the other person having not explained the concept in terms you understand.  There are always things both people can do to improve the situation to alleviate future issues.

So go on now, make use of your new words in your daily life!  Because since we’re all humans, we all have another “mis” coming up right around the corner.  So we should get good at this really quick, right??

Funny, I don’t feel so cynical anymore.  You Real Girls are good for my psyche.

To receive the RealGirls Inspirational Monthly Meme, please sign up below:

Advertisements

What It Means to be a Woman

It bothers me that this post even needs writing.  But I recall all too well those years of high school on into young adulthood when my identity seemed so skewed and so hard to grasp.  Most teenagers of any gender probably deal with this, and there are certainly social expectations for both girls AND boys, but I believe it’s particularly difficult for you young women because of all the mixed messages that are received from social experiences, pop culture, religion, parental teachings, school, etc:

Girls are told by the media that because their bodies are beautiful they deserve to be ogled at, and they are there to fulfill the desires of men.  They are told that sexy is ideal, prude is bad, they must be pretty, they must be happy because that’s how they will gain male admiration.

Girls are told in the religious sphere that their bodies ought to be covered up as a means to preserve the sanctity of male thoughts.  They are told that sexy is bad, prude is good, they must be pure, they must be calm because that’s how they will attract the right kind of men.

Girls are told in social situations that being bold and assertive is overbearing, and that being smart is being a know-it-all.  They are told that sexy is trashy, prude is boring, they should be understanding but not a doormat, they should be independent but not “wear the pants”, they should achieve but not become too powerful.

It feels a little bit like this

Attractive Woman with Her Books

How is a girl to find herself when she is constantly surrounded by people and institutions not only attempting to tell her who she “should” be, but giving her impossible standards to live up to?  And how is a young woman to begin to understand how to value herself as an independent being when all the messages she is receiving are centered around securing a relationship?

This is the big chore for young women and those who support young women.  And I want to attempt to break down some of the confusion by helping you girls understand what the requirements are to be considered fully and completely a ‘woman’.

First, let’s look at the definition of ‘woman’ by dictionary.com:

Woman: “the female human being.”

…….

Um….that’s it.

Seriously.

Don’t get me wrong – that’s not “all” – there is so much more to being a woman.  That’s simply the end of the restrictions, requirements, and limitations to being a woman.  You simply have to be female.

You get to decide the rest.

YOU get to decide what characteristics you develop, what personality you have, what road you take, what kind of person you want to be, what career you pursue.  And all of the options can make you an incredible woman.

So, girls, let’s change the conversation.  Let’s forget the conversation everyone else is trying to have with us and start a new conversation.  A better conversation.  Instead of discussing all the qualities and attributes that women should have, or that are common to women, or that make women appealing, let’s discuss the myriad of amazing, unique, inspiring, and either orthodox or unorthodox ways there are to BE A WOMAN!

The sky is truly the limit!  There is no “right” way to be a woman, there is no special formula to follow.

You can be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company and be 100% woman

You can be a truck driver and be 100% woman

You can be a sexy cowgirl and be 100% woman

You can be a robe-donning religious leader and be 100% woman

You can be a stay-at-home mom with 10 kids and be 100% woman

You can live in a shack in Harlem and tutor inner-city kids and be 100% woman

You can be a police officer and be 100% woman

You can be a wife, mother, and entreprenuer and be 100% woman

You can be a hermit, lesbian, doctor, sailor, Christian, Atheist, Jew, American, Greek, or Russian and be 100% woman

You can be an Alaskan underwater basket weaver who enjoys Croquet and playing the kazoo and be 100% woman

Do you see the the great power you have?

Ever changing teenager

I’ve done a fair amount of world travel in my lifetime (actually, by today’s standards it may not be considered “a lot”, but it was for my generation!), and I have met amazing women from all walks of life that were kind, endearing, bold, courageous, assertive, practical, sweet, skillful, artful, giving, demanding, merciful, just…. And any other adjective you can think of!  All of these qualities are good and all of these qualities are accessible to you.  Simply find the ones that come most naturally and build on them.

You’re allowed to do that.  You’re allowed to be the person your heart tells you to be.  You’re allowed to follow your own path.  You’re allowed decide to be a person that others don’t like, or agree with, or support, or that others love, cherish, admire, and envy.  Because if you simply work to become more YOU every day – the REAL YOU – you will always feel connected to the world around you, and you will always feel fulfilled in the path you choose to take.

Others will tell you who they think you are supposed to be.  Believe you me, people love to control the world around them and construct organized containers to fit people into because it helps them feel more in control of their lives.  You don’t need to function within that paradigm.  The world isn’t meant to be controlled or even fully understood.  Have faith in yourself and take the steps forward that feel right, moral, and most beneficial to you, and you will end up on the right road.

You wonderful girls are so loved.  You are so appreciated.  You are so NECESSARY.  We need you.  The real you.  We know you are strong.  We know you are wise.  You will find your way.

To receive the RealGirls Inspirational Monthly Meme, please sign up below:

You Are A Greater Leader Than You Think

Image

Let me tell you ladies something about leadership: it is intensely skewed these days. From what I’ve viewed and experienced in my life, the MOST CAPABLE leaders in the world are often highly unaware of it, and highly underutilized. Leadership has, in recent years, taken a very unfortunate form. I’m aware of this because I have experienced it in almost every job I’ve had leading up to the current position I’m in (which, thankfully, has excellent leaders and a fantastic work environment).

Leadership today is largely defined by bad behavior. The people that yell, belittle, patronize, complain, and place impossible expectations on others are the ones that make up a large portion of management in the workforce these days.

If you are a Real Girl, and you believe in who you are, this can be rather discouraging. Because true leadership has nothing to do with these qualities. Being assertive is not the same as being overbearing. Being confident is not the same as being cocky. Being a delegator is not the same as being a dictator.

The latter of each example seems to be the norm these days, and it leads to very difficult work environments where it’s extremely hard for the TRUE leaders to stand out and make progress to the position that fits them best. And it’s especially difficult for you girls. Because both men and women exhibit these poor behaviors, but for women in particular, oftentimes being assertive is perceived as being overbearing. Sometimes when a woman is appropriately confident, she is said to be cocky. When she is effectively delegating, others call her a dictator.

Please understand that you have no less capability than anyone else in this world to find that line between being a dictator and a pushover. In fact, you likely have far MORE capability to be a great leader than most people in your life have ever credited to you. This is why it’s so important OWN and BELIEVE in who you are. Because once you reach that point, the interpretations of others don’t matter anymore, and you can begin to grow, interact confidently as your true self with others, and show them why they are wrong. The opinions of others may never change, but knowing who you are can give you the ability to make strides beyond the limitations presented to you by others.

Image

So focus your mind and your energy on positive leadership qualities. The ones likely already brewing naturally inside you, and which will simply take some attention and nurturing to reach their full potential.

One of my favorite bloggers in the ENTIRE WORLD is Erica Andersen who writes for Forbes.com. She is a brilliant leader and currently runs a consulting business where she works with other business executives to help them see how many of their more self-focused and bottom-line-focused behaviors are actually stunting the growth of their organizations. I find her perspective and insight to be a breath of fresh air.

In her recent post, “3 Qualities That Define The Natural Leader – Do You Have Them?”, she gives a short laundry-list of the top qualities of fantastic leaders:

Far-sighted
Passionate
Courageous
Wise
Generous
Trustworthy

Amazing, wonderful girls. There are those in the world that would have you believe that you cannot develop these qualities. That they are not natural to women, or to people at your level in the workplace, or to people with your income, or people your age, with your upbringing, with your level of education, blah, blah, blah…

IGNORE THEM

It is important to acknowledge to yourself when one of these people is attempting to limit you by one of these factors. Then tell them either vocally or to yourself that they are WRONG and remind yourself of all the reasons why you have the incredible ability to emulate every single one of these attributes. Then do it. Practice it. BE the person you dream of being.

And make some mistakes along the way. Every trustworthy person was once untrustworthy. Every wise person was once naive. Every far-sighted person was once impulsive.

Image

Begin your journey today. If you feel you are destined for leadership, or for mentorship, or for changing the world, embrace that courage and hold it strong inside you. No one else can take it away; they will only lose the opportunity to gain greater perspective, love, and confidence by underestimating a person willing to achieve their unlimited potential.

Be You. Be an Amazing Leader. Lead with boldness, courage, and passion. And don’t let anyone convince you that you are anything less than limitless in your endeavors.

To receive the RealGirls Inspirational Monthly Meme, please sign up below:

Really, ANOTHER Miley Cyrus blog post???

Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you what I think about the Miley Cyrus debacle.  In fact, I’m not really going to even go into it.  I’m only going to tell you this: it happened.  And, as a young adult, or a parent of a young adult who has access to computers, smart phones, or just everyday gossip, you and your young adult have at least heard about it, if not seen it.  So what now?

So many young adults (and adults too!) like yourself are running to their parents, their religion, their friends, the blogosphere (which I believe are all very good places to seek advice and council) to get answers on how they’re supposed to feel about this.

My thoughts? It’s too easy these days to look to others for answers to questions when we should looking to others for guidance on how to find our own answers.

Instead of asking your positive influences what their conclusions are, why not start by asking them how to effectively evaluate such a situation?  How did they come to the conclusions they came to?  What is their reasoning process?  This is the time in your life to start getting an understanding of how to understand, evaluate, and reason things which sometimes (read: quite often) have no clear or consistent conclusion.  Once you’ve got a sense of the reasoning behind others’ conclusions, start asking yourself some questions:

What does this mean, if anything?  Does it send any messages about women, sexuality, or Miley as a person?  Why or why not?  If you think it does send any messages, what are they?  There are few things in life that are all good or all bad, so what good could potentially come from this event?  What bad?  Does one outweigh the other?  What do you think could have been the source of motivation for what you saw?  Is it something that you would like to emulate in your own life?  Why or why not?

Have a nice long discussion or think-sesh over a bowl of Pho.

Then DROP IT (the subject, not the Pho!).  Because Miley is only one person among millions who wakes up with bedhead and gets constipated every now and then just like you do.  And you’ve got your own life to worry about.

To receive the RealGirls Inspirational Monthly Meme, please sign up below: