Ramblings of a Creative Mind

Thoughts on Work and the World from an Executive Mom

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What Your Shopping Cart Says About You

Cart_ResponsibilityI’m convinced that there are two types of people in this world: those who leave shopping carts in the parking lot, and those who put them in the “return your cart here” section.  At least, that’s how I see it now that airports don’t let you past security anymore.  Back then, there were people who met you at the curb, and those who met you at the gate.

I’m all about the cart section/gate people.

Returning the cart is inconvenient.  You have to go out of your way to do it.  You load your car then close your door.  You navigate around the oncoming traffic to push that cart into a tidy line, giving up a few minutes of your time when you probably have somewhere else to go.  But you do it anyway.  Why?  Shared responsibility.  You’re working together as part of a larger community.  It’s being considerate of other people.  Helping protect someone else’s property.  It’s about more than just you.

Same thing goes for the gate people.  You had to park your car, pay a bit out of pocket and walk a ways to bring a smile to someone you loved.  It’s bigger than you.

So many people today don’t return the cart.  They’re caught up in their lives.  They’re so busy!  Many important things to do.  Can’t possibly spare a few minutes to walk 50 feet to help someone else.  So they leave the cart tucked up on a curb, or precariously balanced between two other cars… An accident waiting to happen.

They are not part of a larger community.  They do not share in the responsibility.  It’s just about them.

Returning a cart seems like a small thing, and perhaps it is.  I think it is a symptom of something more though.  We demonstrate who we truly are in the small moments… the little things we do when we think no one is looking.   Are we looking in or looking around?

We inspire our employees when we model that which we ask of others.  Do we ask for urgency and good work, yet provide no feedback or take days to respond instead of hours?  Do they stay late while we leave early?

We teach our children responsibility in our day to day actions.  Do we tell the truth?  Do we follow through?  Do we tell our children to pick up after themselves, and yet leave carts lying around parking lots… too self involved to follow our own advice?  What will our children learn from us in the little moments?  What do we want them to learn?


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Finding Monday Motivation

Have you ever felt like this on Monday morning?

Have you ever felt like this on Monday morning?

When I am in the office, I follow a pretty strict structure in the morning.  I get in early so I can get started while things are still quiet.  I spend the first 15 minutes getting situated, writing out what I want/need to accomplish in my day, then ranking the projects in order of importance.  Who do I need to call back?  What deliverables are due today?  Then, I spend the next 30 minutes or so doing research about the automotive and credit union industries.  After all, my company serves both of those industries and, as its representative, it’s my job to be an expert.  I spend about 30 minutes looking ahead at the next few weeks – what do I need to do to achieve my goals?  Is there any prep work I need to do for my clients? Finally, I decompress for a few minutes, and then launch into the day, full steam ahead.  My days and weeks are very structured for a reason.  Why?  The structure provides the foundation I need to excel on great days and to make it through the tougher ones.

Sometimes, no matter how good your intentions, getting started on a Monday morning can be a rough go.  Perhaps it’s winding down from a busy weekend or winding up from a slow one.  Maybe you have a lot on your plate for that week, and the tasks seem overwhelming.  Today, I feel like I am wading through mud.  My desk is piled high with a million little items that need attention, and although I have gotten a lot done, it still feels like I have struggled today to accomplish anything.  Kind of a contradiction, to be sure.  So what do I have to fall back on when I just can’t get going?  Structure, plus a little inspiration.  I looked back over my notes from the morning, cranked up the deep, funky house (sorry to my teammates), and just started pushing things forward.

My days are not much different from yours.  You take stock of whatever you need to accomplish.  In sales, that’s probably your leads, marketing visits and scheduled presentations or more.  You research your product as you are the expert.  You research your prospects and plan your next few weeks – when can you go out marketing and who do you need to follow up with.  Although you may feel like you’re wading through mud too, you’re actually walking along a straight path to success when you structure your day.  And your phone starts ringing.

Even when life is good (and car sales sure are good right now), there are challenges – from the annoying to the earth-shattering.  Structuring your day provides a foundation for you to move things forward when the going gets a little rough – say for example, you have an unexpected complication at work or you’re feeling under the weather.  It is far too easy to let things derail you, especially if they are new, you are tired, you have a ton of leads or it’s a Monday.  Solid, consistent structure or processes give you something to fall back on, to help you get started.  But you may need more – you need inspiration.
Inspiration comes in many forms.  Perhaps you read motivational books, take a quick walk around the office or crank up the tunes like I do.  It doesn’t matter where you find inspiration; it just matters that you do.  We can’t expect that anyone else will find it for us.  We need to take charge of our day and our life, be accountable and crank up the volume.  This life is far too short to sit and wait for something to come our way.  Yes, some things are out of our control, but a lot of life is in our control.  Grab hold of the reins, go marketing (blast that beat) and get going.  You just might find that Monday Morning Motivation* along the way.
*A special thanks goes out to Seattle’s C89.5 for the techno wake up call today!  Again, sorry to everyone here at the office!