Haters Gonna Hate

Today’s blog title is brought to you courtesy of the Taylor Swift concert that I attended with my daughter last night.  

Last week, I received the first negative comment on my blog.  A woman – we’ll call her Sally – left me a lovely little note saying that I am a narcissist and out of touch.  Ouch!  I see now that it was perhaps a little naive to have not foreseen that I would receive nasty comments.  I am, after all, putting my writing on the Internet for anyone to read.  But it still came as a bit of a shock.

I erased Sally’s comment. I’m pretty sure this is a no-no in the social media world.  But as she was effectively being a bully and name-calling, I made a judgement call to rid myself of this negative energy.

Let me say that I absolutely invite anyone to comment on my posts, whether they agree or disagree with me.  I am happy to engage in a constructive debate.  And maybe I will come out of it with a new piece of information that causes me to reassess my views.  But if you choose to be negative for the sake of being negative, then forget it!

I am a big proponent of the power of positive energy.  I firmly believe that what we put out to the universe is what we attract back.  I am sure all of you have that one person in your life who always finds something to gripe about.  And – surprise! – the well never runs dry.  These people have a constant supply of negative events, interactions and relationships to focus on.

Please don’t misunderstand me… I know that horrible things happen to good people.  And I am not for one single second suggesting that they in some way deserved it or brought it upon themselves.  But here is what I have found with these people:  they choose to see the positive, even in the darkest of times.  These people and their stories take my breath away.

Given the time of year, my kids have been learning about Terry Fox.  This is a man who, with one leg having been amputated, embarked on a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research.  He once told a Toronto radio station that he found life more “rewarding and challenging” since he had lost his leg.  Talk about trying to see the positive in a negative situation!

So let me finish by saying “thank you” to Sally.  You went to the trouble of reading my blog.  You may have hurt me with your words, but you’ve made me a little bit tougher.   And you have also reminded me to be kinder, gentler and more compassionate to others.  I choose to see the positive in all of this!

“People throw rocks at things that shine”
“It’s gonna be alright”
       – Taylor Swift

Begin with the End in Mind

My day-to-day life looks vastly different than it did a few short months ago.  Business meetings, work deadlines and reports have been replaced with school pick-ups and drop-offs, classroom volunteering and blog writing.  Don’t even get me started on my wardrobe – gone are the business suits, dresses and heels (oh, how I miss my heels!  I recently learned that a bunch of the moms at my son’s school used to refer to me as “the one with the heels”).  Instead, I find myself in jeans (and – shriek! – sometimes yoga pants), sweaters and “comfortable shoes”.  But all of this aside, I am still me.  And so, I have been thinking a lot about the lessons I learned while working in the corporate world and how I might apply them to my current situation.

Most recently, I worked for an executive search firm.  I spent several years helping to fill roles for retail clients across Canada and the US.  I regularly interviewed senior executives – individuals who were seemingly at the top of their game.  I loved this part of my job.  Every day, I got to meet with successful people and gain insight into the paths they had taken.  It was my job to understand their career decisions, their accomplishments and their failures so that I might predict how they would perform in a future role.  One thing that consistently held true with these high-performers was that they could clearly articulate their career goals and aspirations and had made decisions along the way in support of those goals.

I realize that, on the surface, this might seem trivial.  But take a minute to think about it…  The most successful people are able to visualize their future and take concrete actions to make it a reality.  Said another way, these people are able to say “no” when faced with opportunities (as attractive and/or lucrative as they may be) that don’t fit with their ultimate goal.  They aren’t distracted by shiny objects along the way.

This is not to say that goals don’t change over time.  My recruiting work taught me that even the most successful people find themselves at inflection points throughout their careers and can embark on drastically new paths.  But they do so in a purposeful, deliberate manner.  They don’t say “yes” because it was the easy answer, but rather because they have envisioned the end-game.

This week, I was presented with an opportunity to do some contract work for my former company.  My immediate reaction was to say yes.  I like the work and it is familiar to me.  But after talking it over with family members and friends, I was forced to think about my end-game.  What is it that I want to accomplish in this next chapter?  I don’t have all the answers just yet, but I know enough to know that I need a plan.  It is still early days for me, and I want to make sure that I begin with the end in mind.