Spending ten years in my role at Office Dynamics International taught me many things. The following message was originally posted at OfficeDynamics.com.
I woke up this morning with the strange realization that this is my last day with Office Dynamics International. What a very weird feeling.
As I write this I am feeling all the emotions. I’m remembering many of our incredible stories that we’ve collected over the last decade of partnership. Life has been filled with so much joy and with an unbalanced amount of pain. We’ve been through it all, together.
Many have been shocked and even baffled by my decision to leave the incredible opportunity that I have had here with Office Dynamics. Hey, me too. When I said yes to Joan more than ten years ago, I had a great job and I was making progress in my career. I had great friends and family all around me…two young babies and an older son with split custody with his father. My husband had built his own lawn and landscape business and it was thriving. On paper, it was picture-perfect. There was no reason to leave Iowa. But, within me, there was longing to fulfill my potential in a different way. When the opportunity to work with Joan Burge in Las Vegas presented itself, and my husband was on board with the possible move, I went for it. We were both surprised that I got the job!
This has been an unbelievable story. I wish I could chronicle the entire timeline of my ten years. Maybe I’ll write my own book someday? I’d love to share these ten consistent messages that I’ve learned over and over during my time here at Office Dynamics working with the legend that is Joan Burge. Okay, I will throw in a bonus, too.
Say “Yes” to the things that scare you.
My biggest key to success here has been the word “yes.” Joan would give me an assignment like writing a blog or recording a video, or speaking on stage to our sold-out conference of 250 attendees for my first time. Each time, I was absolutely terrified, yet I said “yes.” I didn’t always know what I was doing but as Marie Forleo says, “everything is figureoutable.” My willingness to try new things helped grow my confidence, introduce me to new skills (and people), and ultimately expanded my role from Chief Executive Assistant to Vice President here at Office Dynamics.
Through this journey, I’ve discovered that our seemingly constrictive comfort zones are boundless. They are like a rubber band – when you exercise them they are much more pliable and will expand with ease, yet, when you try to use an old rubber band that hasn’t been used in years – it crumbles instantly. Keep challenging your comfort zone.
Be courageous in your communications.
One thing that forged a strong partnership between Joan and I was our ability to speak truthfully with one another. We shared everything. Sometimes it felt like therapy because there was so much going on with ‘life’ but most of the time we had creative jam sessions about business ideas. Other times, we would challenge each other for the sake of growth and from a place of respect. I found time and again that I was better off speaking up when I had to have a tough conversation with anyone and to not hold onto it or let it fester. If something is bothering you in work or life, speak honestly with care and you’ll find you will feel so much lighter and your relationships will be so much healthier.
Celebrate your successes.
I’m the kind of the person that tends to rush through my wins wanting little hub-bub over any accomplishment. I caution you to not speed through your wins like this but to stop and appreciate them. It is so important to stop and celebrate yourself, your team, your manager, your company – when you hit a big goal or you accomplish something you’ve been working toward for some time. Just this morning Joan and I stopped to high-five one another when we received a PO number we’d been waiting weeks for and we did a little dance and shouted “woo hoo” when we finalized the 2017 Conference Speaker listing yesterday afternoon. Celebrating makes life much more enjoyable and we spend an awful lot of our lifetime at work, so why not enjoy it?
Own your failures.
We’re human. We have wins and we have losses. My lesson learned here is own your mistakes. Your failures. Your catastrophe moments. I’ve had my fair share of these moments too. The only way we’re going to learn from them is to realize and own our part in them. Speak up, own what happened. Assess what you could do differently and don’t beat yourself up about it, just plan to do it differently the next time you get the chance.
It’s okay to change things up. We don’t have to stay married to our ideas. It’s okay to let someone add to your ideas…or to go with someone else’s idea altogether. Innovation and creativity are best when melded with collaboration. Keep an open mind and like Joan says, look at life with a question mark.
Be kind to everyone you meet.
You never know what people are going through. I watched Joan show up, get on stage, give an incredible talk and then head home to take care of her husband who was ill with pancreatic cancer. She didn’t share her journey openly until after he had passed. She didn’t tell everyone of the hard-ship or the trauma that she was in the midst of. She just showed up and did her best. Watching this experience helped me see that no matter what we see on the outside, what someone is projecting on the surface is rarely the entire story. I try to hold that lesson close and live the “be kind to everyone you meet” motto because you really don’t know how much that kindness might mean to them.
Resilience really is a skill set.
We’ve really learned how to practice resilience around here. There is a reason we had a conference about resilience in 2016. It was a crucial skill for all of us. After going through so much with Joan’s husband and his illness it seemed like we were in the clear and then Joan was diagnosed with a really scary brain tumor that took her from the office immediately and we didn’t see her again in the office with us until three months later. There are so many other stories that we could share that demonstrate the importance of this skill but I can tell you that taking care of yourself and working on your own resilience skill set is important. You might not need it for a major life trauma but it can help in so many facets of life. Here is a great article on how you can grow the skill of resilience within yourself.
Self-doubt is a thief.
Sadly, I am certain I have lost years to self-doubt. I missed opportunity because I believed there was someone better or more qualified. I stayed home because I was certain I wasn’t good enough. I was allowing the story of self-doubt to steal my time and steal my life experiences. Don’t let your self-doubt rob you of living your best life.
Fear is a thief, too.
If self-doubt is a thief, Fear is its partner in crime. Fear can show up in several different ways and it’s sneaky! Be on the lookout for fear in your life and be brave enough to stand up and say no to fear. Fear of failure, success, other people’s opinion – no matter what form fear comes in its robbing you of living your life to your fullest potential and it’s robbing others of getting to experience what you have to offer the world. That’s simply not cool.
Be humble, love people and be silly.
I had the chance to speak on the TEDxWomen’s stage and share a special message about a trip I took to Peru with my oldest son. That trip was made possible because Joan sponsored both Troy and I to go when she heard about my desire to take him on a mission trip. She had already been planning to sponsor a family. There were so many other moments where I experienced Joan’s incredible generosity. I didn’t ask for her to sponsor my trip, she just did. Since that trip, I found my heart for Peru, began leading annual missions to the region, and now help to operate Hope for Youth in Peru as the President of their Board. For the lessons learned check out my TEDxTalk here.
Be brave with your life.
I had the opportunity to present at the Executive Secretary Live event in London last April when I shared my personal story. I called my presentation, #OwnIt, How to Own Your Story and Win at Life. I shared my beginning as an insecure, fearful young woman who was filled with self-doubt and found herself pregnant and ashamed at the age of 15 years old. I thought my life was never going to go anywhere. I was certain there was no future for me. But that wasn’t the case. I realized this after a terribly frightening car accident, that I miraculously walked away from, I only have one life and I better LIVE it and I might as well live it bravely.
Sometimes you take a risk and you don’t know where it will lead, but you’ve got to find out.
My wish for you is that you follow your dreams for your life, that you make brave choices and live to your fullest potential.
Own your past…celebrate it, heal and learn from it.
Own your present…step up and accountable. Show up and do your best work. Live to your fullest potential. Make the right choice and keep moving forward.
Own your future…it’s coming for you. Create your future by the choices you make for yourself today and be sure to have some fun along the way.