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Archive for the Hard Won Wisdom Category

Recommit to your vision and your success

If you are going to do something hard, you will encounter moments when you wonder why you are bothering. Why choose a difficult path when you can choose an easier route? That less stressful approach will always call to you if you haven’t truly made up your mind, committed and continued to recommit on a daily basis.

Every day, remind yourself of what you are after and why you want it. Write these reasons down so that you can refer to them whenever you start thinking about letting go of your dream. It is so hard to maintain momentum when you encounter hurdles that you must get past, or even when you become bored. happens what when snort lexapro you

There are often moments when we encounter shortcuts as we try to accomplish our goals. I have learned the hard way that shortcuts often prove to be the long way around an obstacle.

When I wrote my first book profiling great women trailblazers, I gave each woman her own chapter, which meant doing the interview, writing it up and moving on to the next person. It was a format that was very comfortable to me, and it was faster than a traditional journalistic approach. A few agents asked me to integrate the quotes from those great women into thematic chapters, but I knew that would be five times the work. I’d have to come up with common themes from the interviews, then pull together ten or more women’s comments into each chapter. So, instead of committing to do that extra work, I just chose an agent who liked it the easy way.

It was my vision, right?

Well, that vision didn’t sell. I lost a year to trying to pitch what I’d written the easy way. At the end of that year, I had a book that wouldn’t sell and was way deep in a financial hole.

I turned to a friend of mine, whose son was an editor for a major publisher in New York. I asked if he could review the proposal and tell me what I needed to do to sell the book.

“The women you have interviewed are spectacular,” he told me. “But, you have to rewrite your book. It has to be thematic if you are going to get a major publisher to buy it because, as it is, it is an anthology. Anthologies don’t make money.”

So there I was, having lost a year and facing the same daunting writing challenge I’d been asked to confront in the first place. If only I’d chosen the hard path!

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I dove into that rewrite and soon had my choice of publishers. The book was a best-seller. But, I have to admit that my search for ease had been costly to me on so many levels.

After that, I started noticing situations where I had an easy or a hard choice. Every time I chose easy, I wasted time and effort. Every time I chose hard, I just had to buck up, be tough and get it done.

The only way to get through those tough moments is to continually remind yourself of what you are trying to accomplish – and why. It takes a firm commitment bolstered by a consistent recommitment.

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

Don’t look for ease, look for strength

I went to a concert last night with a friend who has been having one of those year-from-hell-good-God-I-can’t-take-it-anymore moments. With good reason, too, because it really has been the year when everything that could possibly go wrong professionally has gone wrong for her. One thing after another. There was a frivolous professional grievance filed by a spiteful former client. Legal bills that escalated from outrageous to astronomical. A settlement that should have ended things but instead made the problem mushroom to other parts of her professional practice.

Last night, she showed up at the concert with more bad news: Someone had gotten hurt in the parking lot of her office building, and the building manager was able to force her out of her shared office arrangement since there was no lease.

She’s had enough. She wants to quit her practice and get a job. There wouldn’t be so many problems, one on top of another, each one getting bigger and bigger, if it weren’t some sort of sign that she should be doing something else. She’s exhausted and depressed and can’t stand the thought of anything else happening. There’s been so much bad news – way too much bad news – and she just wants it to stop.

“I just think this may be telling me it is time to leave the profession,” she said.

If she does, it is a real shame for the people she serves – and for herself — because she is gifted in her work and deserves great success. But, she’s lost faith in herself. Her reserves are depleted and she doesn’t think she has the energy to deal with another disappointment or setback. If she does abandon her work, she will do it because she is surrendering to a merciless run of horrible luck, not because she doesn’t want to do the work and not because she can’t succeed with it. It’s a decision made out of frustration and exhaustion.

Don’t look for ease, look for strength. Like all of us, you will go through difficult times, and how you emerge depends entirely on your approach adversity. You either give power to your obstacles, or build strength to deal with them. You can’t know when a run of bad luck is going to end, but have faith that it will end.

I have been taught something profound from every one of those old, unpleasant test points I have experienced in life, and my difficulties have ultimately led me to far greater personal or professional success than any of the accomplishments that came with ease.

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

Why make waves?

I just got an e-mail from a reader who wonders why it is even worth it to stick her neck out there if the pushback is so forceful.

If you are a mustang, you are a mustang.

I spent half of my career trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. Was there some sort of playbook that I didn’t get the day I was filling out forms in human resources? Some sort of behavioral code that would have told me how to blend in? I can see the codebook now: “A-team employees are sure to abide, acquiesce, accommodate, and agree. Be a team player by believing, blending, bending, bowing, and buying in. See how you might comply, confer, conform, and concur.” No, I never did get my obedience training. What I got was some natural instinct for going boldly
where a lot of people wouldn’t go, for shaking things up and wondering why the status quo wasn’t more appreciative of all my good ideas and honest efforts. I spent a lot of years wallowing in low self-esteem and feeling like an outsider. A misfit. But, I wasn’t a misfit. I was a mustang!If the math doesn’t add up, mustang women don’t pretend it does.

If the emperor has no clothes, we are the ones who mention that he’s naked. We blow whistles when we see injustice. A teacher is mean to your child, and you aren’t going to stand for it. Your insurance company rejects a claim, and you appeal it because you know they are banking that you’ll get frustrated and quit. You get lousy service from a
salesperson, and you dare to say something. We all have lapses when we feel intruded upon and say nothing, but at least we are aware of it and try to honor ourselves enough to push for what is just when we’ve been pushed too far. We are strong, bold women who behave like wild mustang horses who join and leave their herds at will as they roam free on the range. We’ll run with the herd when it takes us where we think we should be going, but we’ll split off and travel in another direction if it calls us.

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

The power of affirmations

Countless studies have proven the connection between positive affirmations (either through self-talk or hypnosis) and positive results. The concept is this: If you tell yourself you are attractive and fun to be around enough times, your brain will overwrite your negative tapes that say you are ugly and unpopular. You will actually believe it if you say it enough times.

It works. Let’s just say I am in one of my disorganized spells. I might say to myself, “I’m a mess. I can’t get anything done, my desk is out of control and I can’t focus.” Well, what is the result? I can’t get anything done and I can’t focus. But, I launch into affirmation where I repeat, “I am more organized every minute. I am on task and producing better than ever.” I might say it fifty times the first day, thirty times the second day, and so on. It doesn’t take long for me to shift into high gear and start focusing hard and doing my work. If you want proof that it works, you’re reading it. I had to get this blog going, and I talked my way into it.

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

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Labor Pains

My 70-year-old chosen sister-in-life is about to deliver a baby, and the labor pains are a killer. Her “baby” is her first book and the labor pains are especially horrid because she has to upload everything electronically to a behemoth publisher that doesn’t have time for hand-holding its first-time authors. It is a insanity-inducing process that is taking its toll.

She sent me an e-mail last night asking me for technical advice, which I didn’t have the expertise to give. Instead, I wrote back, “Calm down. This will not kill you if you lose a few days. There have been many times when I’ve had to just let things go to the wind. Your book will be ready when it is supposed to be ready, men in black movie not one minute sooner. So, just go through the motions and enjoy the process!”

It was probably not the most sensitive way to handle my loyal friend’s feelings, because she’s so close to what she is doing and is really striving to push this thing through right now. She wrote back and reminded me of the chaos I faced when my first book, Hard Won Wisdom, was released the day before 9/11. “I doubt if you relaxed and enjoyed that. True, there is no comparison, at all, with my little technical speedbump, but it just shows how anything, at any time, can throw a curved ball.”

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The truth is, I didn’t enjoy 9/11 any more than any other American, nor did I like having to figure a way to make my book succeed in that difficult environment. But, once the shock of the unthinkable tragedy set in, I did regroup, figure out a strategy and enjoy my moment. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve got so many photos of going on the road, catching up with old friends, promoting my book, speaking, doing television and pushing for my dream. It was an incredibly chaotic time and I had no control over what happened with my book. I could only control one thing: My enjoyment of the moment. I laughed through it. I lived it out loud. I had so much fun, because that was the only first book experience I would ever have.

I want my friend to have fun with her moment. She has earned that. She’s worked so hard on this book and she should be able to soak that up at every turn, even when it gets a bit gnarly. If publishing were easy, everybody would have a book out there. I just hope she embraces this huge achievement for what it is, enjoying it in all its magnificence. So what if the computer is giving her trouble. Look what she’s doing!

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Yes, life throws lots of curve balls. That’s what makes it so interesting.

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

The Slump

I am about to admit something embarrassing. It goes back a couple of decades, to my first years as a reporter out of college. My old boss at The Florida Times-Union got himself one of those Commodore computers in the early days of the home PC and figured out a way to categorize and calculate how reporters were performing. We’d get points for the number of stories we produced and the placement of the stories. If the stories were scoops or blockbusters, we got bonus points.

At the end of the month, good ol’ Nick Bournias (still one of my favorite bosses) would publish his “Nicky Points,” ranking us from first to worst.

We’d all commiserate about his stupid rating system, griping that we weren’t manufacturing shoes but rather, performing an immeasurable public service as journalists.

When I finally left the paper, Nick published a special edition of his newsletter, praising me for all the times I was on the very top of that list and teasing me for the times I was on the very bottom.

It was so true.

What was it they used to say? “When you’re hot, you’re hot. When you’re not, you’re not.”

Well, I’ll admit it.

I’ve been through plenty of spells when I was not hot. Or warm. Or even lukewarm. My performance was excruciatingly cold.

And, I wish I could write this in past tense, as though my slumps were all a thing of the past, but there are weeks when, as a writer, I am on fire and weeks when I am in recharge mode.

Sometimes my brain needs a break.

Remember that. Brains need breaks.

Bosses label those spells when we shut down or slide from excellence into mediocrity as slumps, but, I see those moments as crucial brain vacations that let me recharge my batteries so I can perform again. It took a lot of years for me to learn that I can’t drive in fifth gear every day without completely burning out my internal shifters. I remembered that when I became a manager and saw my people go through the same experience.

We need those down periods so we have the energy to perform when the time comes. We do not have an inexhaustible supply of energy; we have limits. Success comes in cycles. It is never a straight shot from earth into the stratosphere, so when you catch yourself sliding a little, don’t panic. It has happened to everyone.

What the negativity does

Don’t be so skeptical of the value of positive self-talk until you really look at the wonders of all the negative self-talk with which you’ve filled your brain. Yes, isn’t it a wonder how some of us voluntarily build ourselves up to be worthless, unattractive failures?

If you look in the mirror and see “fat,” you will be fat. If you look at your career track and think “average,” you will be average. If you look at possibility and see impossibility, you will encounter impossibility. You know it’s true that when you say you can’t, you can’t.

So this blog will, in part, teach you how to believe you can, because you can.

The beauty of it is, it is not hard at all to erase those negative tapes and overwrite them with positive ones that will drive you to a less stressful, more productive and happier life.

The power of repetition

The tapes inside your head are powerful. If you repeat a negative remark enough times, it will load itself into the permanent memory on your personal internal hard drive. I don’t believe you have the power to completely erase those tapes because it does seem like they are ready to play themselves again, as soon as you stop repeating your revised versions through affirmations. But, you have great control over the tapes and possess the ability to write over the bad ones, recording positive, constructive and productive affirmations that your psyche will absorb and use if you repeat them enough.

Like I said, I am no different from anyone else. I have had good times and bad in this life. When I am in a bad spell, I have to remind myself how easy it is to fix things by saying the right words to myself. It’s so easy, but it can be so hard to get started.

So, make up your mind. You want an easier way? You can have it.

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

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.

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