Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Don't Let Them Tell You to Lose Yourself

Lately, and after my first #TR30Day challenge, I’ve been struggling to find which hobbies I want to start and/or get back into. I’ve seen a trend of Facebook, Twitter and even Google + posts about people around my age trying to figure out what to do with their spare time now that their school days are either suspended or behind them. It seems crazy that school took up THAT much time, as I had a lot of these hobbies through high school, which was an 8-3 day and consisted of homework too. I understand that once you move out of the parents’ shelter, that a lot of time is devoted to working on top of “school” time to support yourself. 

I just think it’s crazy that through undergrad, I maintained a lot of my hobbies, even though I had a lot of school related responsibilities and had to maintain a certain GPA for a specific number of hours to keep my scholarship. Once I got to graduate school, all of that changed. I attempted to maintain the hobbies (mostly just dance) that were really a part of my identity. I did let other things like painting fall to the wayside as I didn’t have time to contemplate things other than school. I’ve been thinking a lot lately as to why I let myself do that and honestly was pretty miserable for a while once I had to stop dance altogether.

Then I came to the realization that I WAS TOLD TO DO THAT. My professors and mentors TOLD me that I would have to give up everything in order to be successful in that program. Now I’m here to tell you, that I definitely did not have to do that. It also struck me as rather hypocritical as you are supposed to present a “well rounded” person in order to even be admitted to a lot of these higher learning programs. So you want me to be well rounded and then give up everything once I get in? That just seems counterproductive. 

Then I got to thinking that people are under the impression that you can find the “one thing you are good at” or your “niche.” I think we have it in our minds that we can only pursue one avenue in life (which can be partially true) and to give up everything else that doesn’t have to do with that goal. I currently am a consultant, dancer, cheerleader, painter,  and reader. When I was in school, I was told to just focus on being a future consultant and that everything else was “childish.” I’m to the point now, that I don’t care if it’s childish; it makes me happy. I did many awesome things through dance and cheer that I actually use at my job now (BHI Dance team shout out). 

The point of this discussion is that I feel that every person deserves to do what they like to do in addition to doing what is practical to survive. What I mean by that is in order to “survive” one must do something that results in payment to support yourself. But that shouldn’t mean that the only thing you can do is work for payment. I feel as if I have been asleep for the past 3 years that I’ve been in school. Even though I was successful and am graduating in August, I just don’t have a good overall feeling about it. Now that I do things that I like to do, I feel very much awake and much happier. So on that note, I challenge all of you to do something outside of work that you used to do or always wanted to try.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Harry Potter Reminded Me to Fight for What is Right

I’m sure many of you have already seen the last installment of the Harry Potter films; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. I went early on a Sunday morning to avoid lines and craziness and was able to see it in 3D XD, which apparently means it has higher definition. It was definitely worth seeing in 3D, so I’d recommend it. I’ve been reading the series since age 11 (I thought it was cool that Harry was the same age as me) and I’m glad that so many people have been able to enjoy such a great series! 

Throughout the movie, Harry and his allies are fighting so hard to defeat the Wizarding World of Lord Voldemort. At times, it seems that the fight is completely hopeless, with many of Harry’s friends and family perishing along the way. At one point, it even seems that the “dark side” has triumphed, but all of the characters continue to fight, injured and broken with their loved ones being put in danger. I especially liked the portrayal of Professor Snape and his almost tragic devotion to Harry’s mother and the cause to end the darkness that Voldemort has created. 

On my way home, I thought about how hard those individuals fought to ensure that the next generation, and the current one would experience a better tomorrow. And even thought this is an extreme situation, I think that it can be applied to everyday life. “What is right is almost never easy.” I’ve heard that phrase multiple times throughout my lifetime. I feel as if I’m constantly fighting when doing anything “right” whether it is something for me personally, like furthering my career or something for someone else as in helping a friend with a bad situation. It almost seems as if doing the wrong thing is the easier and sometimes better decision. 

I’ve made it a personal goal throughout my life to do what I believe to be right and sometimes it costs me things. For example, I taught dance for a number of years at a local recreation center. One summer, a parent complained that I required dance shoes for dance class (go figure). My boss was out and I was reporting to her boss. He informed me that I was not allowed to require shoes, and if I did, I’d lose my job. Outside of the financial impact, I LOVED that job, but I would not put my kids in a situation where they could become injured because a parent wanted to save $11. I ended up losing the job and being really upset about the position I was put in. It all ended up working out in the end (as I got an awesome internship that I wouldn’t have applied for) and I got to move on. Even though I lost something I liked, I wasn’t going to compromise what I knew to be right in the situation.

This becomes harder as more people become dependent on you for support. I’ve definitely faltered and chosen the easy thing rather than the right thing and I NEVER felt good about it and it almost never turned out how I really wanted it to. I think too many of us do what is easy out of convenience and it turns into a world of doing what is not right. I am always overjoyed hearing stories of people doing what is right, even when it comes at a cost as it inspires me to do the same. So the purpose of this entry is to challenge everyone (myself included) to do what is right, even at a cost, and to see what happens from there!  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

TR 30 Days Update-Getting There!

I have been working diligently to accomplish all of my #TR30Days goals! I really have loved every minute of this "experiment" and am looking forward to continue to do little monthly goals!

  • Go to practice or the gymnastics gym at least 2 times per week for at least 2 hours
    • I have done this for the most part and I'm glad that my body is looking like what I'm used to it looking like! This week I have slacked a bit, but  this goal was to "get me moving" so to speak
    • I actually cheered at San Francisco Pride with my cheer team the end of June and we performed our routines 12 times and walked a LONG parade route that weekend! I loved the feeling of being active and performing again!
  • Participate in at least 2 community service functions in the area  
    • I actually have accomplished this, but it wasn't "in the area"
    • 1. I helped man a lemonade stand at Maggiano's Northpark to raise funds to help the kids they sponsored for the Make A Wish Foundation to get their wishes
    • 2. While in San Francisco our cheer teams raised $5500 for Aids Emergency, which is a fund that helps individuals pay for daily and monthly things while struggling with AIDS.
  • Gain at least 500 twitter followers and follow at least 500 tweeters
    • Now, I haven't accomplished this goal yet, but I am currently following 474 pages, and I LOVE that I added a variety of interests to them! I now get tweets on painting, dancing and cheerleading :) 
    • I think getting 500 followers was a bit of a stretch, but I am currently sitting at 298, which is basically 100 extra followers from the time I started! Definitely progress :)
  • Take on a larger project at work and rock it out
    • I have done this, but it is definitely not finished; my goal at my job is to be a liaison between research and marketing. My goal is to create case studies and white papers consistently over time and keep everything fresh. I am now in charge of it!!!
  • Go on a date at least once a week with Ryan
    • While I may not being going out, I do make an effort to cook or watch a movie with Ryan at least once a week if not  more. 
  • Create a budget and actually stick to it
    • I am currently transitioning from old budget to new budget, but I have been MUCH better about my spending. I try to cook more often, go home for lunch and not shop as often (but do it when I need a reward!)
  • Paint at least one piece of art this month
    • I painted my picture LAST NIGHT! Its a tornado, shown in this blog. I was really struggling with what I wanted to paint, but I have always been fascinated by tornadoes (I wanted to be a storm chaser for a while, but my mom would have had a heart-attack) and I think the colors and shapes that they create are beautifully frightening!
  • Create overall career goals and understand how to get there
    • I recently got hired full time at my job and am doing exactly what I want to do! I have a few long term goals that I am still working on, but I definitely got over the hump of just deciding what I want to do and how to get there :) 
  • Let myself enjoy something luxurious this month
    • I went shopping out of boredom to accomplish this. I wanted to get a few new things and had a few gift cards that I hadn't touched. So this worked within my budget, but I felt glamorous having 5 bags worth of merchandise
  • Figure out how to take my blogs to the next level
    • I am working to do this, and it really inspired me that I was is included in the People Report Summer Camp Newsletter (#prscamp) I never thought that anyone would find what I write about that notable and it truly helps me to follow this path.
  • Go to HH at least once a week with various friends to stay in touch
    • I have been doing this and I feel like my life is much richer for it. Even though this can sometimes be conflicting with my budget goal, I know that I have enough money to put into this. I actually went one step further and attended a very good friend of mine's bachelorette party in San Antonio. I said yes based upon this goal, even before I knew if I could go or afford it. I am glad that I set aside money to attend and hang out with these beautiful ladies that I used to spend so much time with. I found out that the soon to be bride was actually moving and it would be one of the last times I could spend with her. Resulting from that trip are subsequent HHs and communications that I enjoy so much that its hard to describe! 

This challenge has really taught me the importance of taking a step back and looking at your life. I wanted my life to be filled with great relationships, creative outlets, career successes and giving back to the community. Through these 30 days I was able to construct a lifestyle that is conducive to that idea. I feel like my life was richer and not so monotonous. I'm going to keep working at keeping these goals over time and working towards the ones I have yet to accomplish. Thank you #TR30Days for the little push I needed to really take control of what I wanted and now GETTING THERE!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Is Mentoring Worth It?

I’ve been wanting to write an entry on mentors in the workplace and how important I think they are. The thing that has been holding me back is that I hadn’t experienced enough with mentoring in the workplace. I did do a study while I was in school where the outcome was a student’s desire for a mentor once that student began to experience academic problems as a result of adjustment problems, but it was difficult to do studies on mentors that I think would be most practical. 

So, with the nerdy beginning out of the way, I’ll tell you what really inspired me to write this long overdue entry. One of my favorite summer shows just concluded; The Voice on NBC. If you aren’t familiar with the show, YOU SHOULD BE, but here is a quick rundown of the concept and procedure NOTE: IF YOU KNOW THE SHOW SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH! There are three distinct components to the show. The first is a blind audition in which the singer sings for the four judges/coaches (Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine) with the judges unable to see the singer. If the coach is interested in putting them on their team (which totals 8 singers), they turn their chairs around. This is done so that the individual is judged purely on their voice. Following that, there are “battle rounds.” This is where the coach puts two individuals of their teams against each other on the same stage singing the same song in a duet style. Following the “battle” the coach chooses one artist to move on to a live show were America votes for their favorite artist.  

The thing that struck me most about that show is that the camera showed how the coaches really influenced their team members to be the best vocalists that they could be. There was a definite progression of every artist that made it past that first audition. The coaches built confidence, pushed the vocalists just enough and took them out of their comfort zones to explore differing facets of their vocal talent. I was so in awe of that, especially in the entertainment industry where it seems to be more cut-throat than developmental in nature.
I have been on the receiving end of formal mentoring programs and informal mentors. My personal experience was that my formal mentoring program was not the best for me. My mentor was very capable and I think could help me with my shortcomings, but as she never experienced some of my difficulties, struggled to really understand what I was going through and offering advice that she has used successfully. I have several informal mentors that have been much more successful. By several, I would say a total of 5 both male and female individuals that range in jobs, levels and experience. Those mentors just kind of developed as I looked up to them in one way or another. 

These people have really made me what I am today. They helped me to navigate things that they struggled with or that they could see me struggling with. I respected them enough that when I get negative feedback, I really tried to take that into account and change the way I was doing things. One of the things that set these people apart is that they seemed genuinely interested in my career success and celebrated my triumphs and aided in my failures. I still look up to all of these people, and I’m pretty sure most of you read my blog! : )

I do have a point though that I want to tell older, more experience professionals. DEVELOP your “minions.” By that I mean show interest in those at the bottom of the totem pole, interns, entry-level, etc.  I think many professionals sometimes feel that they can’t talk to these individuals, don’t have anything valuable to offer or really feel that the younger, less experienced worker could become a threat to their job. Those things can happen, but you don’t know that they will. Once the relationship is built, it may surprise you how much this individual really wants to help YOU with your job! Go back to The Voice and think about what those artists did. The vocalists will be in direct competition with all of the coaches, but the coaches still gave them the best advice that I thought possible and developed them into great, competitive singers. It makes me more likely to buy one of the coaches and the “voice’s” songs because I see they are interested in young or new talent. That I think can translate into the business world as well. Subordinates could buy into what you are doing because you offered them genuine coaching and developmental advice. 

Does anyone have any stories about mentoring they’d like to share?