Ask for Feedback Whenever You Can Get It

Ask for Feedback Whenever You Can Get It

When I had my son, someone told me that the most courageous thing you can do is ask for help. I couldn’t agree with this statement more.

Throughout your career, there will be multiple people that play a major role in who you become. I recommend finding a handful of people that can help you become the best you.

  • Someone who can coach you on your specific position or role within the company. Someone who has been in a role like yours. They get the ins and outs of what you are working on and can help you find answers.
  • Someone with a similar family/life structure. If you are a young mom, it’s good to have other young moms (and older moms) to talk to. You can talk through how to prioritize your time and if opportunities are right for you to pursue. If you’re a dad that travels a lot for work and has four kids at home, it’s good to have another dad to talk to. Traveling with a family back home can be hard and it’s good to have someone who gets it. Don’t want to get married and have kids. Find someone with a similar mindset so you can share experiences. Regardless of your lifestyle, it’s good to have someone that lives on common ground.
  • Someone that thinks the complete opposite way you do. They should challenge the way you think and push you outside of your comfort zone.
  • Someone, it’s safe to vent to. You will have people you don’t work well with and you will have bad days. Find someone you trust that you can talk to, so you don’t spill your guts to everyone in the office.
  • Someone that believes that you are the best person that ever walked this earth. They empower you and give you the courage to be your best self.
  • Someone who will call you out on your shit. They know when you are feeding them a line of bull and will put you in your place.

Set up a structured, scheduled check-in with each of these people and ask them for feedback. Ask them questions. Allow them to help you gain a better understanding of yourself. Yes, it can be a little scary to ask people how they perceive you and it’s even harder to hear their feedback, but if you do it on an ongoing basis, you will grow. It’s important to allow yourself to truly understand who you are and why you do the things that you do (sometimes the things you don’t even realize you were doing).

Share your personal and professional goals with them and ask them to hold you accountable and provide feedback based on how you are aligning with each goal.

I have a lot of respect for people that WANT to know how they are doing and improve. It means they are self-aware and that is a hard quality to find.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Growth is not comfortable. It never has been.

Since the moment you were born and your itty-bitty tiny baby bones decided to rapidly expand you have been experiencing growing pains.

Without pain, you remain small.

When you work out (run, lift weights, do cardio, jazzercise, yoga…whatever) you feel the burn. You feel your body getting stronger.

Without pain, you remain weak.

When it comes to your career, the pain can be more of an emotional wall that you have to break through. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

It’s makes so much sense that so many people that are wildly successful also incorporate working out into their daily routine. They are used to pushing themselves physically and emotionally. They train for it. They know that on the other side of uncomfortable is an incredible place to be.

I personally, have found that I use my to-do list and daily tasks as a cop out. I love going running. I love to be out in the fresh air.  But I find myself getting to the end of my street where my comfort zone ends and I say to myself “good run, now get home and knock out some of to-dos”.  No. Keep going. There will always be new to-dos. If you really want to run a half marathon someday, you can’t just run a mile or two. You can’t just wake up one day and throw on your Nike’s and run a half marathon. I mean someone probably could, but I would die. My weak little legs would give out. I would probably barf. I would be so uncomfortable and I wouldn’t make it to the finish line. Unless, however I trained ahead of time.

I decided that I needed to challenge myself. I told myself that I was going to walk as far as I could before I couldn’t walk any further and only then I would turn around. I wasn’t going to turn around because I needed to get the house clean or send out emails for work. I packed my tiny sidekick in his stroller, a diaper and wipes, loaded up on snacks, a few toys and juice boxes and water and off we went. I wasn’t going to give myself any excuses.

I used the Kimmy Schmidt method and decided that I could handle any kind of physical paid for ten second increments, then I would just start counting to ten again.  I had already birthed a tiny human so running couldn’t be that bad. About two hours later my feet started to hurt and I decided that it was time to turn around.

What I didn’t realize is that I had pushed myself so far out of my comfort zone that my aching feet now had to get us all the way back home. Hahaha, jokes on you sucker. So that was real fun (and my pride got the best of me so I refused to call anyone for a ride which was even more fun).

I had blisters, my feet and legs ached, I was ready for a nap BUT I was so impressed with how far I had gone. I didn’t stop. I kept going.

I heard a runner say once that “the first mile sucks for everyone” and that couldn’t be truer. Once you push yourself past that first mile or milestone, the rest feels a lot easier because it’s exciting.  Your muscles are warmed up, and your already in motion so stopping doesn’t seem like the only option. When you push yourself, you give yourself the opportunity to see how far you can go and each time you try you will go a little further and get a little stronger.

Remember that next time your working something hard. This would suck for anyone, not just you. THEY CALL IT A COMFORT ZONE FOR A REASON. It’s comfortable. Anything beyond that zone is not.

Sometimes leaving your comfort zone can be exhilarating and easy, sometimes it can be terrifying and one of the most challenging things you have ever done. The thing is, you won’t know how you are going to feel until you try it. If you want to grow you have to try new things. You must walk a little further to get there even if it means you must walk a little further to get back. If you don’t like where you end up, go back.

What a pity it would be to live your whole life wondering what’s beyond your comfort zone. How it makes you feel. What that version of your life, of your looks like. You might be uncomfortable for a while but DAMNNNN if you don’t love that new life.

My challenge to you is to spend a little bit of time every morning deciding what you can do to get out of your comfort zone. If every day you step out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just a little bit, a baby step, you can go to sleep at night knowing that you are a better person than when you went to bed.

Please make me (scratch that) make yourself a promise that every day you will take a tiny step out of your comfort zone.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable EVERY. DAMN. DAY.

Make Time to Learn

Make Time to Learn

Continuous learning is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your career. When you stop learning, you stop growing. If you don’t make time for it then it won’t happen. I would recommend that you try to include one to two hours of self-growth activities a week.

So many companies these days find continuous learning to be a key to success and incredibly important and have begun to provide funding and scholarships for those that are interested. If there is something that you want to learn more about and think it would be valuable to your career growth, reach out to your HR department and ask if it’s something they would be willing to pay for. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no.

If you don’t have time to get a degree, there are so many resources out there. Even if you have a job that you plan to stay at for years to come it’s a good idea to learn new things. If your position is pretty turn key and there isn’t much room to grow then learn about something else that interests you. You can never learn too much. Knowing a little bit about a lot of things makes you interesting, it makes it easier to hold a conversation. Knowing a lot about one thing makes you an expert. Either way, it makes you better.

There are so many ways to grow without having to pay an arm and a leg:

  • Read everything you can get your hands on. Ask your co-workers for recommendations on books they loved. At one of my jobs, we created a learning library, and everyone would try to read a book a quarter and bring them in and add them to the collection. We also tried to share out things that we learned from our books with our colleagues. If you have a long commute, I recommend audiobooks. I felt really strange listening to them at first and now I am hooked. I get so bored with the morning radio talk shows and love knowing that I’m using my drive time to my advantage.
  • Reach out to people that are working in the same field as you and shadow them. You should also try to shadow someone in the position you want to be in, not just the same position as you. Always try to learn from the people who have done your job before and been successful. Set up a time to meet with them every quarter. Buy them a cup of coffee and a donut and ask them questions.
  • Set up a “learning phone date” with a mentor. Everyone gets busy but having someone to talk through your thoughts and problems with that gets what you do in your career that can provide sound advice can help you make the best decisions possible and not feel alone.
  • Watch webinars. Find out if your company has partnerships with any trade organizations. Most of the time they can get you into conferences for free or a reduced price.
  • Go to trade shows. Some companies will pay for you to attend these events as they usually have a lecture component built right in.
  • Google it. You have all kinds of knowledge at your finger tips (just make sure you are looking for educated sources).
  • If you work for a company tap into any and all resources. Reach out to your training department, boss, or HR, and see what opportunities are available.

Go back to school. I often hear people say that they don’t have time to get their master’s or Doctorate. That’s fine. Who said you must get a degree if you go back to school? What is every time you felt like you weren’t educated enough about a topic you took a class? Just one. Once class on something you might like to know more about. Something that would make you feel more empowered if you understood it a little better. Something that would help you make better decisions if you knew more about it. Normally, a collegiate level course is a few hundred bucks and you most community colleges have classes that cover all kinds of topics. You might want to reach out to local colleges and universities and see if you can just audit the class – meaning sitting in to learn but not taking tests or getting any credit.

There are so many ways to keep learning, you just have to pick which one you want to start with and go for it.

Come Back From A Failure with a Vengence to Prove Them Wrong

Come Back From A Failure with a Vengence to Prove Them Wrong

I got let go.

Those are the hardest words I have ever had to say, and I had to say them over and over again to every contact I reached out to and every interview I went on. It still feels like nails on a chalkboard. I have always been one of the hardest working people I know. I get up early and work late. I took calls regarding random questions on maternity leave. I did everything I could to salvage accounts that were already sinking when they were handed to me. I’m one of the most organized people I know. I’m efficient. I care so much and I’m so damn nice to everyone I work with and yet… I got let go.

When I was told that I was getting let go I had to take a few minutes to really wrap my head around what that meant. I shook my head and nodded and said “I totally get it”, “no hard feelings”. I apologized that it was hard on them to have to let me go.

The executive team got together and consciously made decisions about who they wanted to keep on their team and who they didn’t. They wrote my name on a whiteboard and then they erased it. Of all the people within the company, they decided that they didn’t want me on their team. My skill set was replaceable. I was just a number in their business model.

Then “nice Amanda” slowly faded into the distance. While I was upset, I was very pissed. My blood was boiling.

If I had been a few years younger I might have gone on Glassdoor and written a shitty review. But I was older, and I knew better.

I needed to prove to the company and to myself that I could land a killer gig. I reached out to every single person I had ever met that might have a lead or just be willing to talk to me about ideas and opportunities. I made calls, texts, and emails. I reached out to recruiters and friends and former clients from years past.

I’m not sharing this because I want any pity for losing my job, I’m sharing this because it happens all the time. You must understand that you are working for a company that has a financial goal. Keeping your job is not guaranteed. In the business world, nothing is guaranteed.

Failure doesn’t mean an end. It means a new beginning. An opportunity to re-evaluate your situation. To try something new. To go bigger. To be more.

It also means you get a chance to prove that they should have kept you on their team.

As I write this, I am crossing the 10,000-word mark in my first book. Without getting let go, I wouldn’t even have started writing. I have also landed a killer gig at a major CPG company doing something that I absolutely love and have a team of people that value my skills and come to me for ideas and advice.

I got let go from a job that wasn’t right for me and I’m proud of that.

Remember that You Are Human

Remember that You Are Human

I’m about to tell you something that I wish someone had told me a long time ago. YOU ARE HUMAN. In life, you don’t know what you don’t know until you realize you don’t know it. That’s when mistakes happen. Guess what? You are going to make mistakes. You will fix them, and life will go on.

High school and college don’t set you up for success. They create a mythical “real world” that you think you are going to be stepping into that is so very different from reality. You learn about a subject, you take notes, then maybe a practice exam, study a little more and then perhaps you take a test or give a presentation and get assigned a grade based on how well you did. You learn the material over extended periods of time and have a teacher dedicated to ensuring you understand the material. Real-life rarely works like that. I take that back; real life never works like that. I don’t remember the last time I had six months to figure out how to put together a good presentation and my boss doesn’t have time to meet with me for an hour a day to take me through a tutorial.

Coming out of college, I felt like a Rockstar. I thought I was the bee’s knees. College and High School had really hyped me up. I had been in honors courses since third grade, National Honors Society, always got good grades, was in multiple leadership positions all while doing sports and holding a part time job. If this wasn’t hard then I don’t know what could be. WRONG. SO GOD DAMN WRONG.

I wanted to go into my first job and kill it. I wanted to prove to everybody that I was smart, educated, and valuable, but I didn’t understand the intricacies of the business and company I was working for or the way the “real world” actually works.

I walked into my first job like I was the Queen of England. I was untouchable. I was smart. I was knowledgeable. I was so god damn wrong.

For the first few years that I was working, every time that I did something wrong, I fell apart. I didn’t show it but I beat myself up if I made a mistake or didn’t know an answer. I would lay in bed at night analyzing how I could have avoided saying the wrong thing or what questions I could have asked. I would replay the whole situation repeatedly. Over and over and over and over. What I didn’t realize is that I had to get to the point where I didn’t know there was another question that needed to be asked in order to grow. If you’re not asking questions, you’re not growing. It’s supposed to be uncomfortable.

Screw up. Fall Down. Get Back Up. Learn. Repeat.

I heard a statistic one time that every time you switch roles or jobs it takes an average of a year for you to start to feel comfortable in your role and truly understand the ins and outs of what you are working on. Learning is an endless process. Your lucky if there are notes. Your lucky if you can find a good teacher/mentor. Your lucky if you have time to figure it out.

When you’re walking up a mountain all you see is what’s in front of you. You don’t know if there are mountains or a beach on the other side. You can use some context clues to make a good guess. But you don’t know what the view looks like until you get to the top and there is nowhere left to go. That’s when the magic happens when you can see the big picture.  If you’ve never hiked a mountain (or a very steep hill with a good view) you should try it. There is this moment when you get to the top of the mountain where you naturally pause and take in the whole view. That’s what learning should feel like. That’s growth.

You are a tiny human trying to get to the top of a very giant mountain. It’s okay if you have to take breaks, if you trip and fall, if it feels so much bigger than you thought. Just keep going. The view at the top of the mountain is incredible once you get there.