Monthly Archives: August 2016

Allergic To Average 

Everybody is allergic to something. For some its food, for some its fragrances, some even animals or dust. Me? I’m allergic to penicillin. Or so my parents tell me. I don’t know exactly what happens to me if you give me PCN (I learned the medical abbreviation for it a long time ago – it’s something you have to know when you have to write it on EVERY form you ever complete during your entire life). I understand it was given it me as a toddler and the result wasn’t pretty, so doctors suggested I not have it again. So for 40+ years, I’ve been allergic to penicillin.allergic to average

But now, as an adult, I’ve determined I’m allergic to AVERAGE. I know, I know…no one WANTS to be average – whether its standardized tests, work, even how we speak, dress, write or appear in photographs. (Aren’t you glad there are digital cameras now and we can delete the “below average” pictures and only share the really good ones?) But I digress…

When you complete an online or telephone survey about a recent experience – maybe in a store or a restaurant – you’re often asked to rate the experience above or below average. Those of us who work in the public always strive to be above average. We’re also usually a little more disappointed than most when we don’t get above-average service from others.

So are you like me? Allergic to average? Do you embrace an opportunity to be ABOVE average every single day? Maybe it’s by returning phone calls or emails in a timely manner? (I admit, that’s a hard one for me!) Maybe it’s by going “above and beyond” or sending a hand-written thank you note? Or by “paying it forward” for a stranger or public servant?

Statistics show you’re ten times more likely to have a negative experience than a positive one. I challenge you to help me change that statistic. Have an “above average” experience lately? Tell someone! Write an online review. Mail a thank you note. Reward someone. Share it on social media. (Wouldn’t you prefer to see something positive go viral for a change?) Tell me – I’ll share it for you!

Join me in becoming #AllergicToAverage and seeking those businesses and individuals who always strive to be better today than yesterday.

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Bronze Ain’t So Bad Either…

As I mentioned before, watching the Olympics is one of my favorite things, and we can easily get caught up in the excitement of our athletes as they “go for the gold” (myself included).

But after I wrote the previous post about it, I started thinking about the other athletes on the podium – those who won the silver or bronze medals – and I decided “bronze ain’t so bad either.” Basically, it’s the equivalent of 2nd Runner-Up in pageant lingo.

Going for the gold (or any goal) is a great idea and certainly should be our aspiration. But what if we win silver, or bronze, or – what if – wait for it… we never stand on the podium to that thunderofailure_25407174410_ous applause and accolades from our peers (or enemies)? Does that make us a loser?

I can’t begin to count the number of times I competed in pageants and walked away with no prize at all. Sometimes I was lucky enough to be a runner-up (like the time I was 1st runner-up to the 1st runner-up at Miss America – but that’s another story…) You have no idea how many times I’ve started a blog, or even worse, a book, only to scratch the whole thing or, God forbid, lose my handwritten notes. (And yes, that happened just last month!) Talk about feeling like a huge loser!!

Of course, we all know that’s ridiculous.

We’re not losers because we fail at something. We’re only losers if we NEVER try. Failure is an important part of success, and failure only comes to those who try!

My point today is that it’s okay to be a runner-up. It’s even okay if you never win anything at all. Just don’t let the hope of “going for the gold” and fear of falling short keep you from going for your goals. Whatever they are, they are important steps to creating your ideal life and your purpose.

I believe I have finally found my purpose in life – to share my personal experiences (both the wins AND the losses) with you, my social community, to help you find YOUR passion.  We’re in this journey together my friends. I can’t do it without you and I appreciate you. Look back on whatever you may have previously looked at as “losses” and think about how they’ve changed you, taught you something, or helped you grow. Wouldn’t that make those experiences wins?

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The “Dirty Word”

I used to think it was a “dirty word” but turns out, it’s really not. In fact, it’s perfectly acceptable and even encouraged. What word, you ask?

NO

I’ve told you before I’m not a major donor or big-time financial supporter of the organizations I volunteer for, but I am a valuable resource because I give (often) of my time and talents. Those who know me personally might say this is an understatement.

If you’re like me, and known at work or in your community as the go-to “yes man” (or woman!) because you always agree to step up and help with a project, maybe it’s time to step back and re-evaluate your priorities. Are you the one who gets called when others disappoint or fail to produce? Are you the one who bails folks out when they are desperate? Are you the one who feels it necessary to not only attend every one of your children’s events, but also coordinate them? Maybe you’re the one who will ALWAYS go the extra mile because you have the “volunteer” gene or just because you can’t stand the guilt that comes from saying “no.”

I already know what some of you are thinking… “Hello Ms. Kettle – let me introduce you to Mr. Pot!”

But seriously, I’m working on this one. I have at least learned to say…

“Let me think about that and get back to you.”

By using this phrase – instead of immediately saying yes OR no – you demonstrate reliability and credibility. You can honestly evaluate the time you have available to commit to a new project and whether or not it fits into your plan of work, not to mention your schedule.

Sometimes we say yes to people (I know who I owe the biggest favors to) and sometimes we say yes to causes (I’m a sucker for anything Rotary-related). But sometimes we need to say “let me think about it and get back to you” before we commit or walk away.

We all have the same 168 hours every week (but that’s for another post…) so guard them carefully, and use them the best way you can. It’s important that you learn to manage your time rather than let it manage you. It simply isn’t acceptable to feel guilty for saying “no” every once in a while. More importantly, you shouldn’t feel pressured to make a decision either way immediately.

Let’s try it all together now… “Let me think about that and get back to you.”

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Your Homework Assignment…

 

It’s that time of year when my friends are sharing pictures on social media of their kids headed off to the first day of school. Teachers are anxious about their new lesson plans. Parents are anxious about their kids’ new teachers. Students are anxious about their new schedules. That’s a lot of anxiety!

I’ll be honest. I don’t usually give much thought to “back to school” until I see Facebook flooded with photos. But this year has been different. I’ve listened eagerly and intently to a friend who has moved to a new school, planned new syllabi, decorated a new classroom and developed new psychological “experiments.”

Listening to these plans certainly brought back lots of memories for me of the teachers who impacted me over the years. There were band and chorus teachers who helped me develop my talents, and coaches who made me a slightly better athlete. There were even those teachers who tried to make me more interested in learning scientific theories than music theories. Bless their hegreat teacherarts.

But it was my English teachers who influenced me the most. They taught me writing skills for which I will forever be grateful (hopefully they aren’t cringing as they read this!) because they shaped me into the professional I am today. Thanks to women like Ms. Gaffney, Mrs. Brown and Ms. Stephens, I developed an artistry for storytelling, an aptitude for vocabulary, a command of the English language, and an absolute heartfelt love of the written word.

Today, I have a new appreciation for those cheesy “thank a teacher if you can read this” bumper stickers due in part to those teachers, and many more, who influenced my life, both then and today.

Teachers seem to be “called” to this profession – much like healthcare workers, ministers and coaches. I believe I was “called” to be a writer and speaker, and without the encouragement, instruction and leadership of some very special ladies at a critical point of my life, that wouldn’t even be a possibility.

So here’s your “homework” for this week…thank a teacher!  Maybe you can’t reach out to any of your own, but there are those who influence your kids or grandkids, the children in your church or neighborhood, or heck, even your Facebook friends. Tell them how much they are appreciated and that whether they realize it right now or not, they have the opportunity to make an indelible impact on those who sit in their desks every single day. The influence of a great teacher will never be erased.

great teacher

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Go For The Gold

Watching the Olympic Games has always been something I’ve not only enjoyed, but actually looked forward to. I admit, I don’t watch every event (I don’t even understand every event!), but like many of you, I have my favorites.

This year is extra special as I am enjoying seeing many of the views I saw firsthand just last summer when I was in Brazil for the Rotary International Convention in Sao Paulo and then a brief vacation in Rio.

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The sights there were beautiful – the statue of Christ, Copacabana Beach, Sugarloaf Mountain…the food (& drinks) were amazing – fresh seafood and caipirinhas… but the opportunities – to fellowship, serve, and speak on an international stage – those were remarkable experiences I will never forget.

Much like the athletes in Brazil, we must also “go for the gold” by taking advantage of every opportunity for training, networking, fellowship, service and even performance. We must set goals for ourselves and work hard to achieve them.

Posting regularly on this blog and sending weekly emails to those on my motivational e-news list (you can sign up to receive those here!) is a small step for me in my quest to “go for the gold.” I have lots more goals I hope to accomplish in the months and years to come, and I am confident I will reach each of them.

Over the next few weeks (& months), you’ll hear more about each of my goals, and I hope I can count on your support.

Will you stand on the podium with me as you reach your goals too? Or will you be sitting in the audience cheering me on? Either way is acceptable. Just don’t find yourself sitting at home watching with regret that you haven’t reached your own goals and being envious of those who have.

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What’s YOUR gold for this year? Comment here or email it to me personally! You’re a champion. Let’s go prove it!

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