Crafting your Story

Answering your calling

2 Notebooks, 7 revisions, countless hours, 40,000 words – that’s what it took to bring my calling to life.
Is there something you feel deep inside you know you need to do? Is there something every time you think about it makes you a little bit nervous and a lot excited? I know there is. We all have one. It’s your calling.
I think I’ve always known I wanted to write. I remember sitting on the floor during my middle school years, with my friend Dawn, writing a story while she drew illustrations. There are oodles of notebooks and pieces of paper in my home office with starts of stories and phrases imagined. I’ve had so many journals it’s not even funny. I’ve written poetry, short stories, and started novels. I’ve been a journalist and a corporate storyteller. I’ve written a family story book. But this year, it got real and I got serious. I answered that calling deep inside me. 
You may have noticed from my last few posts, I’ve got a book that will be published in a few weeks. I’m beyond excited. Yes, I may have danced around my living room when I got the call I was in. The support and encouragement from family and friends has been amazing. But the really great part is that it feels like all the parts are finally coming together. There’s such a joy knowing the hard work, multiple revisions and ideas are going to be out there and that a small piece of me will continue on after I’m long gone. 
David, one of my coaches along this journey put it into perspective for me. He said everyone has been given something by God to do with your life. There’s a quote I’m reminded of—“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God.”
Your calling comes with an expectation if you believe like I do. The talents and gifts God gave you weren’t merely a suggestion but rather a command – not something you were to just “get around to doing.” They create a fire inside and a desire to accomplish them that never really goes away.
I believe we all have something unique to each of us; something that is near to each of our hearts. That doesn’t mean those dreams will be easy to achieve. Some of them can be difficult so we back off. You don’t just roll out of bed into success.
When it gets difficult, we stop focusing on our calling and begin focusing on the things that make us comfortable. We switch from staying in the battle to settling for something that makes us feel good—like spending time with friends, binge watching tv shows and movies, going shopping, filling our time with hobbies or sports. None of these things are bad but they become our excuse not to reach our goal.
When you limit what you demand of yourself, you shrink as a person. We lose our determination which adds to more failure, more lack of results, more disappointments. Instead of moving forward, we end up going backwards. We only reach the destination by charging straight ahead. 
One of the things David said that really stuck with me was if we fail to work towards our calling, or achieving our goals, we become a resource to achieving someone else’s goal. Instead of focusing on answering that calling God put deep inside of you, you begin going through the motions and settle for less. 
My book touches on a lot of this. In When In Doubt, Delete it!, I share 36 life edits, or lessons, I’ve learned along my journey that have added to the joy and clarity I feel, as well as helped me reach a level of success along the way.
Since I’m a writer, I used the 5 main proofreader marks (delete, insert, begin, move, and stet) as a backdrop for these lessons. I’ve learned there are things in each of our lives we need to delete, things we can insert and begin, and directions we can move to improve our outcomes. The opposite is true too. We have pieces of us we know without a doubt that we need to hold on too and remain true too. That authenticity is what makes each of us unique. It’s realizing those traits that make us the individuals we are destined to become. 
I’m excited to share this journey with you. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing the process of completing my book and getting it published. I hope you’ll follow along. There will be a contest where you can help me pick a cover, a book launch and much more. 
But before I end this post, I want to share a few ideas to get you thinking about answering the calling you have inside you:
  1. Quit setting uninspiring goals. If your goals don’t set you on fire or inspire you, you don’t have a strong enough goal. When they do, you’ll find that desire gives you the actions you need to accomplish your goals. Write down goals that inspire you. Keep them in front of you. Post them on your refrigerator. Write them on your mirror. Read them every day. When you fixate on a goal, you’ll find ways to achieve it.
  2. Stop underestimating the effort required. Just because it’s your calling doesn’t mean it will be easy. You’ve got to take a deep look and understand the level of action, resources, efforts really needed to move your forward.
  3. Don’t underestimate adversity. There will be challenges as you pursue your dream. There’s never a time in your life you won’t experience some problems. Problems are a sign we are alive. The only time you stop having them is when you are 6 feet under the ground. You have to view problems like a spark from a campfire. If you don’t fan the spark, it dies. Don’t breath life into it and make it bigger than it is.
  4. Adopt an attitude that success is your duty. Someone out there needs what you have whether that’s your help and wisdom or some product you create. You need to live your calling because it is the life you were destined for. Don’t shoot for average, you’ll end up below it. God gave you the talents and will provide a way, but you have to work for it. It won’t fall out of the sky and land in your lap.
What are you waiting for? Get started today.

Alone we can do so little….

Helen Keller said…

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

Never has that been more evident than over the last couple of weeks. I’ve had the privilege to work alongside a group of dedicated men and women who have been working tirelessly to restore power in an area hard hit by Hurricane Michael. This electric system was left without a single meter turning and over 2,000 poles broken after the storm left a path of destruction in this South Georgia town. Many of the people working tirelessly to restore power to their friends and neighbors have not stopped to deal with their own personal tragedies. Some have lost homes. Many have suffered damage to their own property.

I’ve seen real life heroes wearing white hats arrive to help speed the process; miles of bucket trucks and numerous lineman who have left their families to come lend a helping hand.

Henry Ford said:

Coming together is the beginning.

Keeping together is progress.

Working together is success.

#coopstrong #HurricaneMichael #ThankALineman

Think like a man — or not!

Woman at board table with men

I recently attended a women’s leadership conference called The Wisdom of Women. Throughout the day, we had the opportunity to hear from many women who have excelled in their fields and moved up the leadership ranks.

Each of them had a different philosophy about what worked for them. Some I wholeheartedly agreed with, other, not so much. But that’s the great thing about programs like this, you take from it what speaks to you and fits you.

One thing everyone agreed upon was that leaders need to learn to manage stress. The best way to do that is finding ways to integrate time during the day to rest your mind.

Latha Ravi, owner of the Flying Locksmiths and a Certified Yoga Instructor, said “Time is the biggest challenge for everyone. But if you can just find a minute here or there you’ll build up an emergency reserve so you can handle what ever comes up.”

I think everyone agreed being your authentic self is vital. You really can’t give a hoot if everyone likes you or thinks like you. Let go of the stereotypes and believe in yourself. It’s up to you not to let someone else’s opinion of you impact you and what you achieve. That’s why we should all take the opportunity to build each other up.

Our day included a panel discussion featuring women who were “Breaking Traditions.” Here we heard from women who were in professions normally associated with our male counterparts. Their jobs ranged from automotive to IT to HVAC. I can relate after working over 20 years in the utility industry.

While there are still barriers and misconceptions in the workforce, I feel blessed to live in a time where women are only limited by their personal desire to excel. It’s true there are still times we need to push the barrier and make sure our voices are heard, it’s how you do that, that seems to be the question.

One panelist suggested women needed to be tough about things and not present their female side at work. I personally disagree. I think women offer a different approach to a lot of problems and opportunities. We think differently than men do in some situations, especially when it comes to teams and people. There are a lot of ways to make yourself stand out that don’t involve you becoming “one of the boys.”

I do think, as women, we need to make sure we control our emotions in the workplace. If we practice a “respond not react” approach, you can maintain your feminine side without looking like an emotional basket case. When you think ahead and plan how you will handle situations, you can present a clear plan of action when the time comes. You look in control and capable of handling whatever is thrown your way.

Everyone agreed it was important to learn the most you can learn about the industry you are in. That’s how you prove to people you belong. If you know the product and the business, it doesn’t matter if you show up in a skirt or trousers.

One panelist suggested you needed to find out how do you get on the golf course so you could listen to what the men say and learn what’s really going on. Her thought was you have to go where the boys are or else the information isn’t being shared otherwise. While I feel there’s some truth in that concept, if you don’t enjoy the activity, don’t go. That will come across and people will pick up on it. It won’t seem authentic.

If it’s not the golf course, you do need to find times where you can have those relevant conversations. Maybe schedule lunches or just pop into an office and have a conversation. Be willing to listen and learn. You do that enough, you’ll become someone people share information with.

It’s important you realize you are there because you like what you do and you are good at it. Don’t let someone set the expectation for you. It’s up to you to show them what you can do for them and that you can fix their problems. If you can go in with an understanding of what they need and show them you can get it done, everyone will respect the results.

The one thought which generated a lot of conversation at our table was the thought that women had to work 10x’s harder than their male counterparts. While I won’t argue with the person who said this because each persons situation is different, our table was of the mindset that women who reach these points in their career are really hard workers anyway. Most of us have a strong work ethic which has been instilled in us from a very young age. We take pride in a job well done and generally don’t half ass our way through something. So maybe it appears to an outsider we are working harder – and I hope smarter – than others in our industries.

What we don’t do is talk about our part in accomplishments. Men claim their wins. Women tend to sit back and hope someone notices. Then when they do, they dismiss their work as “it was nothing.” I think we do ourselves a disservice with this practice. It doesn’t have to be done in a boastful way, but if someone recognizes your efforts, don’t downplay your part in the success.

No matter which side you fall out on the ideas and advice in this article, I think everyone would agree there’s still a long way to go for women in the workplace. There’s still disparity in pay. There’s still misconceptions which need to be removed. It’s about both sides respecting the contributions of each.

So what are the best takeaways?

1. Do your homework.

2. Be educated about your industry.

3. Show up and be a problem solver.

4. When you get the seat at the table, don’t be afraid to speak.

5. Remain authentic to yourself and ideas.