Ramblings of a Creative Mind

Thoughts on Work and the World from an Executive Mom

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All Ships Rise

Ship_Rough_SeasI recently had the opportunity to hear Kim Malek, one of the founders of Salt & Straw, speak at a conference.  If you have not heard of Salt & Straw, it’s a gourmet “farm to cone” ice cream company from the Pacific Northwest.  If you have not tasted their ice cream, put it on the Bucket List now.  It’s worth it.

And while the ice cream is fantastic, her story is even better.  Kim followed a dream – one that she had held for well over a decade before it came true.  As she shared her journey of making a dream become a reality, she also spoke of the tough things that got in her way, of taking great risks and how hard it was for her to keep moving forward in the tough times.  Her motto, when the days were at their darkest, was “all ships rise.”

Lately, a lot of friends have had extremely tough times financially, professionally and personally.  Friends have lost fathers and children.  People have lost their homes or jobs, and others soon will too.  I’m not sure why right now.  I just know that it is.

We all have our struggles, some more than others.  Being on the outside of it, you try to help when asked, and you hurt silently along with them too.  Walking through those woods, it is difficult to see a path through it.  You can become discouraged, depressed and destructive.  But just as the tides change and ships eventually rise, yours will too. How quickly will it rise?  That’s up to you.  It starts with your frame of mind.

One of my friends has had more than enough heartache; in fact, I think she’s dealt with more in her 30-some years than most people will in their lifetime.  She has had health issues, family issues, relationship issues, money issues, lost parents, lived without power and running water while working full time and caring for kids… you name it.  But if you met her, you would never know it.  In fact, I have never seen her without a smile on her face.  She is one of the most uplifting people I’ve been honored to know.  She never complains, but instead keeps marching onward – living her life for others.  She is the first to lend a hand or a heart.  I’ve often referred to her as a living angel, and I think she is.  I aspire to have the spirit, the generosity, the wisdom that she has.

During a particularly bad time for her years ago – when I was also walking along a dark road emotionally – I asked her what her secret was.  She told me that she had faith that things would get better and believed it would, that she was grateful for what she was going through as she would be stronger for it, and that “all ships rise.”

What an odd circle.  I heard this many years ago and again last week.

Seasons keep changing, but the tide always rises.  It was a good reminder to believe, to dream and to persevere – no matter what challenge you may be facing today.
Your ship will rise too.

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Staring Down Dragons

Reggio_calabria_museo_nazionale_mosaico_da_kaulonTomorrow is a big day for work.  We are sponsoring a large event, and I am representing my Company there.  It’s a newer territory for me, and there will be a lot of people I don’t know at the event.  Normally, I’m not one to stress in new situations.  In fact, I often speak publicly for work.  Yet, as I packed my bags tonight, I found myself worrying over things that I really never worry about: what dress should I wear?  Will the competitor onsite talk negatively about my Company or me?  What will I say?  Even now, over an hour after I have finished packing, my stomach is in knots, and I don’t want to get on the plane in the morning.

So what am I going to do?  Get on that darn plane, of course.  Wear my red “look at me” dress – secretly, it’s like armor to a knight – and go out there and face my fear.

Sooner or later, we all find ourselves in situations that make us uncomfortable – or downright freaked out, insecure and scared – at work or in life.  We feel “out of our league, out of our element” or maybe just “out to pasture.”  We tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough.  The competition is too fierce, knows more than we do or just may eat us alive.  Our skills “aren’t enough.”  We feel like a fraud.  Stewing alone in our insecurity, we imagine all the bad things that are going to happen and ultimately cause them to become so.  Our fear is a dragon, bellowing the fire of failure.

No one ever promised that things would be easy.  Many of the most successful people in work and life have faced significant hurdles to get where they are today.  It doesn’t matter what your dragon is: financial, the competition, doubt or inexperience.

What matters is how hard you are going to fight to defeat it.  The only way to advance in your career is to know what you are fighting for and how badly you want it.  Facing those fears is going to be hard – that’s a given.  It may even feel like it’s going to kill you.

It’s easy to be brave in the good times.  To measure who you really are, see how brave you can be in the bad times.  See how willing you are to fight for a good cause and for the people who are depending on you.

For the record, my stomach is still a wreck, and though I can’t figure out what I’m really afraid of, I just know that I am.  I also know that, tomorrow night, I am going to rock that red dress, represent my Company and my Team well, and slay whatever dragon is plaguing me tonight.  Once I do, I will know more about myself and be a better leader and mentor for the people that I am honored to serve each and every day.