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Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
Speaking Information at (727) 467-0202 or e-mail info@fawngermer.com

Archive for the Hard Won Wisdom Category

You Can Do Better

“You can do better than this.”

I can still hear my mother’s voice.

I was in the tenth grade and I had brought home a report card that boasted a few As, a couple of Bs, a C and the only  D I’d ever gotten – in geometry. I didn’t see anything wrong with that report card because it wasn’t much different from what my friends brought home, except for that little episode with geometry, for which I still don’t apologize.

But, Mom did see something wrong with that report card.

“You are not average,” she said, “So you can’t bring home a report card like this. If you were average, it would be all right. If I knew this was the best you could do, it would be all right. But, it isn’t the best you can do and you know it. You can do better.”

I hadn’t really thought about it before, whether I was smart or talented or anything else. I was just a kid who wanted desperately to fit in despite being hindered by a major case of nerdiness. I wanted to be average because then I would blend in with the others. Teenage life would be so much easier blending in with the crowd. No one would expect me to do anything more than the minimum. Hanging there with mediocrity seemed like a pretty safe way to get through high school.

If you think about it, I was right. And it applies to our work situations today. Mediocrity is a very safe place to hang. You don’t have to deal with the risk of being extreme – either too excellent or too poor. You aren’t a problem child that needs to be put on probation or dealt with. You aren’t a model of excellence who is a target for people who are jealous or threatened. You’re just in the crowd.

My mother’s tone of voice made it very clear that I would be making a few changes with regard to my academic approach.

It’s amazing how quickly I turned things around after that lecture. All As, and a B in geometry. I just had to make the decision.

I’ve had to make that decision again and again throughout my career. It is a conscious decision to ratchet things up another notch, to produce more, to concentrate harder, to work longer, to deliver. It is a decision to leave the pack and be excellent.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books, including an Oprah pick. She speaks to corporations and organizations on courageous and creative leadership strategies taken from her interviews with the best-known leaders of our times.

Your Big Plan: The Greatest Piece of Fiction You Will Ever Write

I often joke about the initial plan I had for my life as an author. I would write the book in three months, then sell it for the high six figures, maybe seven. The book would then come out six months later, debuting on top of the New York Times ultracet no prescrition best-seller list. Oprah would see the book on the shelves while out shopping at the Chicago Barnes and Noble, then buy it. She would love it so much that she would call me up, have me whisked off to Chicago, then have me on the show as she told the world to buy my book. She would so fall in love with me that she’d invite me home for dinner with her and Steadman. attacks effexor with treating xr panic

Quite a plan, right?

Your “life plan” is the biggest piece of fiction you will ever write. You can try to organize and structure your plan, but you can’t make it fit perfectly in a world of so much unexpected drama. I certainly never counted on my book being rejected the first time by every major publisher, or it being released right around 9/11.

If you must have a plan, have a plan. But, plan to change it, because life will demand you change it. The seemingly clear path you devise to turn your vision into reality will twist and turn and run into dead ends. It will lead you into brick walls and open fields. Things you expect to be hard might be very, very easy. Things you expect to come easy might never come at all.

The plan helps you refine your vision and gives you direction so you won’t stall out. But, success does not happen according to plan. It happens, but you have to help it happen by being flexible, shrewd, quick-thinking and resolute about what you want. You can lament the twists and turns, or you can learn to expect them, and enjoy them for the extra challenges they present.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courages and creative leadership strategies.

Fear Our Own Power

For the most part, I think we fear our own power because acknowledging it requires us to take action. Taking action requires energy, stamina and presents us with the possibility of failing. It’s much easier to blend in with everybody else, all the fearful people who don’t venture into their zones of discomfort.

I look back on the great cynics I have known in my life, and I have to admit they provided a great deal of entertainment for me with their smart-aleck remarks as we watched one of our peers dare to chase some cockamamie dream that none of us thought could possibly work. Years later, the cynics had done nothing new with their lives. But, look at what the visionaries did:

There was the night city editor who quit to open a restaurant. It wound up being Ryan’s — an extremely successful chain and franchise. At the height of his success, the late Eddie Ervin owned 25 of the restaurants himself.

There was the television assignment editor who left to go to medical school and now is a great doctor with a huge practice.

There was the very lame reporter who left for law school and became quite well-known for civil rights work.

And when those dreams worked, we’d make some snide remark about it — and you know that came entirely from jealousy.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books, including an Oprah pick. She speaks to corporations and organizations on courageous and creative leadership strategies taken from her interviews with the best-known leaders of our times.

Just Start

One of the most consistent sources of inertia in our lives is our fear of tackling daunting projects. We don’t take time to realize that there are few tasks that can’t be broken down into manageable parts. We see all of the things that need fixing in our lives and we don’t fix any of them because we think we must fix them all – and that prospect is frightening, intimidating and exhausting. So, we just wait and wait, and nothing happens. We need to just start!

I recently consulted with a man who has toiling in a job that pays him well every Friday, but does nothing for his psyche. He is miserable, and has been for a decade. He wants out, but thinks he isn’t mobile because he is middle aged. He is so stuck, and it is all his choice. He just doesn’t see that he has colluded with the negative forces that have made him miserable.

“I can’t get anything that will pay me better than this,” he said.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“I’m a middle aged white man and…”

“How do you know you can’t get anything better?”

“There are people more qualified and…”

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“How do you know you can’t get anything better if you haven’t done the first thing to try?”

Finally, he admitted what was giving him so much trouble: “I don’t even know where to start.”

“Do your resume,” I said.

Oh, that look. It is the same look I get every time I tell someone to do their resume. It is the look of dread and fear and doubt. You’d think it was absolute torture to do it. And, why? Seriously, why is it such a bad thing. They even have software programs to make it easy.

The lack of an updated resume is probably the most universal reason people are stuck in unhappy and unchallenging career situations. Doing that resume is the fundamental and essential first step that leads to all other opportunities, but thinking about doing it puts such a bad taste in our mouths.

Well, how long does it take?

Really, if you just spend one night doing your resume and give it three good hours of concentration, you’ll be done and good to go. It isn’t fun, but it certainly doesn’t justify the near total paralysis that it provokes in so many people who need to change their lives. So figure out what kind of job you are targeting and give your resume three hours. Then write a good cover letter. Then mail the stuff out.

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The only thing stopping you from changing your life is your unwillingness to do whatever it takes to get moving. So, quit whining and start moving.

In a Rut

Years ago, the argument for my inertia  was strong: I had a secure job, decent pay, good health insurance, five weeks of vacation, the best friends I’d ever had. On top of all of that, I got to live in glorious Colorado. My argument for change was rather short: I was in a rut and was unhappy at work.

Someone wanted to hire me in Florida. The job looked good, the pay looked fine and I’d be near my family. But, I couldn’t seem to take the leap.

One of my mentors told me: “Don’t let security be your dangerous anchor.” And then, she said it again. “If you aren’t doing something,” she said, “you’re doing nothing.”

I took the job and never looked back as I created a new life of challenge and adventure, quickly learning that change is nothing to fear.

Ruts are comfortable and comforting. We know what to expect of our outside world, but there isn’t much cause to challenge ourselves. Our measurement of what we accomplish tomorrow is too often based on old goals that have lost their significance.

How often do you celebrate the goals you have reached, then take a moment to dream a little larger? Don’t measure yourself against the expectations of others, and don’t focus on competing against your peers. What do you want for your life? More money, more time, more freedom, more wisdom, more credentials, more perks, more love, more adventure? Know yourself, and measure yourself against your own dreams. Don’t fear change – seek it out. Don’t let security be your dangerous anchor.

The Ten Tell Tale Signs that you are in a Rut

1. You aren’t having fun

2. You aren’t challenged

3. You enjoy your job less and less

4. You don’t feel like talking about your work with your friends and family

5. You are smarter than your bosses

6. You keep reminding yourself of the good attributes of your job, and they all have to do with “golden handcuffs” – good pay, benefits and time off

7. You can predict your future and it looks exactly like your present

8. People say, “Are you still working there?”

9. You are jealous whenever someone “climbs over the wall” and quits

10. You feel stuck

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courages and creative leadership strategies.

 

Own Your Calendar

Own Your Calendar

Going crazy because you’ve got no time for yourself? Stop right now. Get into your calendar. Pick an hour — any hour — and make an appointment with yourself. Then, learn this important lesson: You own your calendar. You don’t need to complain about work-life balance, you don’t need to ask for tips on work-life balance. You just need to balance your life by owning your calendar.

Just as you find ways to make time for your hairdresser and physician, you can make time for yourself. All you have to do is decide to own your calendar. It’s your time.

Really. You get one life. Your time is spent the way you spend it. You do have many, many, many obligations, but those are your chosen callings. You can say no to a few things. You can do a few minimums on other things to create time for yourself. But, it is an amazing thing when you just write the word “off” in a slot on your calendar. Everything else fits around it.

This may sound overly simplified — especially if you are a parent who is truly juggling too much. But your time is your time. You can still, love, honor and adore the people around you, as well as be devoted to your work and community without putting yourself last every single time. You matter. You can’t be good for everyone else when you aren’t good for yourself.

There are times when you don’t have time to do anything except the insanity at hand. But those are exceptions. They must be exceptions. If they are not, then you need to make life changes that will give you enough calming moments in your day so you can function and actually live your life.

Look at your calendar. Give yourself an hour tomorrow. A day off within the next couple of weeks. Take the time, because it is your time. If you give every minute away, were you even here on this earth?

Bestselling author Fawn Germer is popular worldwide for her inspiring keynotes. She is recognized as one of the premier experts on work-life balance. To check availability for motivational speaking keynotes or workshops, or for information on life and executive coaching sessions, call (727) 467-0202 or write info@fawngermer.com.

 

Don’t Set Others Up to Disappoint You

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It is so easy to make assumptions about others that are 100 percent wrong. Somebody doesn’t call you back, so you assume you’ve been dissed.

Maybe, maybe not. Maybe the person forgot. Lost your phone number. Is in a deep depression. Maybe he or she went on a vacation. Meant to call but didn’t get around to it. Maybe he or she is ill. Or has a family member who is ill. Or moved. Maybe he or she changed numbers and never got the message. The list of real excuses can (and does) go on and on.

How hard is it to ask someone what’s up? Be direct instead of assuming you’ve been slighted.

The same thing goes when someone is disappointing you. You are going through a tough time and you expect your friends to anticipate your needs and deliver — just like you have always done for them. Yet, your needs aren’t always obvious to others — even close friends.

Don’t set others up to disappoint you. Let them know what you need.

You might mention you have a medical or family concern and your friend may completely forget to follow-up and ask about it. This is a world filled with people with short attention spans.

Do you remember everything that everybody tells you? Good for you! Most people don’t. Remind them instead of being resentful over their forgetfulness.

If you directly ask “What’s up?” and it happens again, you can start getting resentful. But always the other person the opportunity to set things straight.

Bestselling author Fawn Germer is popular worldwide for her inspiring keynotes. She is recognized as one of the premier experts on work-life balance. To check availability for motivational speaking keynotes or workshops, or for information on life and executive coaching sessions, call (727) 467-0202 or write info@fawngermer.com.

 

Stop Being So Quick to Judge

Stop being so quick to judge

You’ve heard how important it is not to judge a book by its cover, yet all of us do it all the time. You see something that doesn’t fit with your concept of acceptability and give it a label. You can judge others by gender, weight, height, race, sexual orientation, friends, class, education, title, teeth, financial holdings. You can judge someone by the car he or she drives, hair color, home, neighborhood, relatives, political affiliation, favorite television shows, domestic abilities, and so much more. What good does that do you? Stop being so quick to judge!

Sometimes, you let your judgment completely color (and taint) your perspective on someone who doesn’t meet your standards. You don’t like the person, so you don’t listen to the person. Granted, there are people you aren’t going to want to hang with, but there is usually something in every person that you can learn from or enjoy. Before you judge so severely that you write someone off, open your heart and look for the good.

True, there are some people who live lives that are completely without merit – but there aren’t a lot of them.

We all judge, but we should not judge too harshly.

Judgment is a barrier to connection and communication. You may be missing out on good people – or, at least, different perspectives that may be of value. When you step outside of yourself and look at who and how you are judging, you may have to take a minute to judge yourself and ask if your judgments are adding depth to your life or taking meaning away.

Fawn Germer is one of North America’s most sought after speakers on leadership and performance. To check availability for motivational speaking keynotes or workshops, or for information on life and executive coaching sessions, call (727) 467-0202 or write info@fawngermer.com.

A Healthy Body is a Beautiful Body

A Healthy Body is a Beautiful Body

We have so much control over our self-esteem, yet most of us invite negativity to move into our brains and drag us down. Isn’t it interesting that most of our self-esteem issues are rooted in our own personal attacks on our physical appearance? We get stuck on our weight, our skin, our hair, our height, the size of our breasts, the size of our feet — whatever. Most of us look in the mirror and see room for improvement for our body. LOTS of room for improvement.

That negativity is so destructive. And it is false. You can look at the best looking woman in the room and you can just about bet that she’s said some pretty ugly things to herself today. Sure, you’d take her body or her hair or her eyes or whatever, but she sees the tiny zit on her forehead and nothing else.

If you are healthy, you have a perfect body.

PERFECT.

If you doubt that, imagine how you would feel about your body if you suddenly were diagnosed with cancer? You’d want your old, flawed, healthy body back in an instant. You would suddenly realize how good you had it, even though you’d been beating yourself up for your imperfections despite your perfect health.

It is time to wrap yourself in a self-appreciation because negativity makes your body an unhealthy host. Negativity attract stress and illness. If your body works, it is perfect. It will let you live well and explore the world. It will let you enjoy so much.

Why not appreciate it?

Why not thank your body for getting you where you need to go? Because, a healthy body is truly a beautiful thing. Appreciate it while you have it.

Bestselling Oprah author Fawn Germer has personally interviewed more famous leaders than any other leadership speaker. To check availability for motivational speaking keynotes or workshops, or for information on life and executive coaching sessions, call (727) 467-0202 or write info@fawngermer.com.

Control Your Worrying: Taking Charge Over Your Stress Points

There is a wonderful cliche that says 90 percent of the things you worry about will never happen. No one can actually measure that, but it’s probably true. We live in a culture of worry. No wonder it is so easy to become consumed by it.

How can you get it under control?

Schedule your worries. Just give yourself a good 30 to 40 minutes a day to dig in and worry hard about the things that need your attention. Then, shut it down until your next worry session.

If you are getting a massage, that is no time to be fretting about finances, conference calls or Valentine’s that didn’t come. It is a time to tune out. So you tell yourself, “I already did my worry session for today. I’ll have to worry about this tomorrow.” It works.

Also, try to focus on one thing at a time. Multiple worry lines can make you a crazy person. They also send you into a worry loop where your perception distorts your reality.

It is only natural to worry. But you don’t have to let your worries own you.

Bestselling Oprah author Fawn Germer has personally interviewed more famous leaders than any other leadership speaker. To check availability for motivational speaking keynotes or workshops, or for information on life and executive coaching sessions, call (727) 467-0202 or write info@fawngermer.com.

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