September Glory

Posted by on Sep 29, 2013 in Relationships, Writing and Speaking | 0 comments

Last March, I wrote a blog called New Beginnings. In the article, I discussed how I have grown to understand my own rhythms of work and that October 1st and April 1st are my personal new beginnings. I also shared that “September often felt more like the final sprint at the end of a marathon rather than a new beginning.” This is still true. This month, every member of our family transitioned into a school routine in some way, and I professionally interfaced with multiple educators and administrators navigating new fall schedules. I completed my fourth triathlon during the first week of September, and celebrated my birthday with family. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah and a friend’s Bat Mitzvah were all neatly tucked within the thirty days of September, and I considered just moving our family into the temple’s sukkah to reduce our commute. Unsure how best to answer the casual ‘how are you’ question posed by friends and colleagues, I found myself saying, “Well, it’s clearly September…in all its glory!” This, too, is true. It is September, in all its glory. In the midst of assuring my children and myself that we would make it to a calmer October, I remembered that I love this month. I love that I needed to pull out a sweater several mornings. I love that, some evenings, the scents of fall drifted into my windows. I love that, while on my way to a board meeting while the sun was still shining, I looked up and discovered an enormous Harvest Moon low on the horizon, visible only if glanced at the right moments of my trip. I love that the very pace of September reminded me of the gold-nugget life lesson that can be an answer to almost anything: be present. The intensity of our September schedule was breath-taking; yet our love of September was found in taking a deep breath and being present for each experience we...

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Know Your Audience

Posted by on Sep 22, 2013 in Business, Writing and Speaking | 0 comments

Twice a year, I am invited to deliver an hour-long workshop to a jobseekers networking group. I arrive early to set up, sit as an observer during the first part of their weekly meeting, and then present my content. During the first part of the meeting, a few members of the group share who they are, what they do, and what kind of leads or support they would appreciate receiving. When it comes to the ‘what they do’ part, people often share their most recent job title. “I’m an electro-mechanical engineer,” or “I’m a storage – SAN administrator.” I recognize that these phrases and titles have meaning for some of the people in the room who share a similar background or work experience. Yet, how many more leads would people get if they shared their professional skill set using language that every person in the room understood? People often ask me what I do for a living. Although I am a certified coach, I recognize that answering with that job title may be of little or no use to the person asking the question. Some people hear ‘coach’ and ask which sport. Others associate ‘coach’ with a sketchy person they once met who decided to call himself a life coach without any training or certification. Yes, some people understand that professional certified coaches work in a variety of industries and for a variety of purposes, such as assisting executives, educators, and entrepreneurs in reaching their professional goals. Yet, depending on the audience, the term can be as easily misunderstood as “storage – SAN administrator.” When sharing with people what you do, it is critical to have some understanding of who is asking the question. What language will that person best understand? In what simple terms can you explain to another person the value and benefit of your skill set? If you have no idea who your audience will be, find a child who is willing to work with you for a few minutes. Tell them what you do and ask them to share you what they understood. If you can clearly explain what you do to an average eight year old, you have found language that is clear and succinct enough to make an initial connection with anyone you meet. This is harder than it sounds. People, especially with specialized and technical skills sets, often say, “What I do is so much more than a simplistic sound bite!” All true. Yet, in order to have a longer conversation with greater depth and detail, there must first be an initial connection and identified interest. Trust that your simple soundbite will lead to the right people wanting to know more and...

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Never Tri This On Your Own

Posted by on Sep 15, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

When I wrote last week’s blog post, Nothing Stays the Same, I paused and considered rewriting the sentence in the fifth paragraph that ended with “and I am completing the triathlon on my own.” I had not registered with a team of triathletes like last year. In fact, I did not know anyone else who had registered or planned to attend the event. I had signed up on my own. However, signing up on one’s own and completing a triathlon on one’s own are two very different things. While I did sign up as an individual, it was a tremendous team that enabled me to reach the finish line. First, I am filled with profound gratitude for the extraordinary volunteers in the water. These women and men, known as ‘swim buddies,’ have flotation devices available and keep a careful eye on each and every participant. Despite the fact that this was my fourth (fourth!) triathlon, I experienced a perfect storm of rookie issues and began hyperventilating within the first two minutes of being in the water. As my brain registered my body’s very real distress, one unexpected thought took control. If they have to rescue me and I get pulled out of the water, I won’t get to do the bike ride or the run I was looking forward to this morning. As I worked to get my breathing under control, the first volunteer spotted me and kept calling to me until I answered. She asked if I was okay and, hearing my answer, decided to swim parallel to me for a while. I continued to side-stroke and breathe as I inched forward. The volunteers handed me off this way for the entire 1/4 mile swim. Someone was always watching, checking in verbally, and within reach if I needed to be rescued. Knowing I was safe helped me calm down and focus on what I needed to do–keep breathing and moving ever forward to finish what felt like the longest swim of my life. As I began the ten-mile bike ride, I thanked God and my body for giving me the strength to get out of the water and onto my two wheels. I thought of my friend who had swum ahead of me in practice swim in a lake a few years ago when I was a wary new swimmer. Seeing her swim off into the distance had triggered the same panic response my body had during this triathlon start. One of the main reasons I was able to manage my body’s physiological response during this triathlon was because I recognized what was happening and remembered the previous experience. That same friend was the one who introduced me to...

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Nothing Stays the Same

Posted by on Sep 8, 2013 in Business, Education, Relationships | 0 comments

A couple of years ago, I called a dear friend of mine late at night. My grandmother had recently died, and while I knew I was grieving the recent loss, I had not anticipated all the other doors of grief and loss that would fling open in my face that night. I was feeling too much, and not finding a peaceful way to navigate the experience on my own. My friend listened and said little. When she did speak, she acknowledged and validated the whole tribe of emotions that were stomping all over my heart. Then she offered a bit of perspective. “Mark your calendar, Sarah, for one year from this day. You will be in a whole different space than you are right now. Wait and see. I promise life will look nothing like it does to you right now.” Her words soothed my soul that evening and reminded me that nothing is forever, including our perspective and experience. She was correct, too. A year later I was in an entirely different space and was able to reflect on how much I had grown from that moment. On the Sunday this blog is posted, I will be participating in my fourth sprint triathlon. I remember the fear I felt five years ago when I signed up for my first triathlon without knowing how to swim and breathe at the same time. I trained and trained for that first triathlon, determined to finish with joy. The following year, I swam through my fear of being in the ocean and finished a second triathlon in a different location. Last year, I returned to the location of the first triathlon and participated with a team. The purpose of our team was to support courageous women completing their first triathlons. This year, I am returning again to the same course I completed the first year, and I am completing the triathlon on my own. I am still determined to finish with joy. This year, despite the fact that I have not trained with as much intensity or intentionality as in previous years, I have a sense of peace and confidence within me that I could not even fathom in the days and months leading up to that first triathlon. Nothing stays the same. Over time, even when faced with the same set of circumstances, our perspective changes. Our ability to rise up and greet the experience that is before us changes. The only constant thing in life is change. We change, we grow, and through our transformation, nothing is exactly the...

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Grieving the Loss of Living Loved Ones

Posted by on Sep 1, 2013 in Relationships | 0 comments

September can be a tricky month for parents. Some parents are sending children to kindergarten. Some are sending young adults off to college in different cities and states. In my circle of friends and family, I know several parents whose grown children also chose this month to relocate and begin life anew in a different part of the country. While each of these new beginnings can be filled with hope and excitement for the children embarking on a new adventure, some parents also often experience less comfortable emotions, such as grief and anxiety, while helping their children navigate these transitions. Although their children are alive, healthy, and thriving, the sense of loss and grief is real and, sometimes, intense. Yet, knowing that their role as a parent is to be happy and supportive for the growth of their child, these very real feelings can quickly become the source of embarrassment or shame. To further complicate the issue, not everyone experiences loss and grief in the same way. Two friends who may have children going through the same life transition may have opposite responses to it. The interesting thing to note is that grief, regardless of the nature of the loss, is still grief. Navigating grief and transition creates abundant opportunities for growth in communication and connection, whether we are the person having the experiencing or we are the person offering support.  Many of the resources designed to offer guidance in supporting someone who is grieving the death of a loved one are relevant and applicable when supporting someone who is grieving the loss of a living relative as well. Here are a few, basic guidelines that are good to keep in mind: 1) Be patient and kind, and keep an open mind. Even if you have gone through something similar, you have not experienced life in the same way this person has. Be willing to be present to hear what this person is currently experiencing without bringing your own thoughts or opinions to the conversation. 2) Talk less, listen more. Listening without commenting, judging, or comparing is one of the biggest gifts a person can give another person. 3) Let the person know he or she is not alone. Acknowledge and validate the feelings and perspectives that this person is choosing to share with you. For additional tips on supporting a person who is grieving, visit this helpful link: Going the distance with a person who is actively grieving is significant and important work. Not everyone is prepared to offer the kind of support a person needs while grieving. If friends do reach out to you during their time of need, being gracious with their request for connection...

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