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Every Great Legacy Begins With the Willingness to Be Different

Every Great Legacy Begins With the Willingness to Be Different

Growing up I didn’t want to be different. I did everything I could to get people not to notice me. But I was born with a talent that made me stand apart not just from the other kids, but from the girls, too.

For as long as I can remember, I was playing a sport of some kind. From soccer, to tennis, to basketball, to softball. For a brief time, I ran the 800 in junior high. I even coached several of those same sports for my boys or a group of high school girls. Unlike many girls today, I never entered a single dance studio or took a tumbling class.

The most nonathletic thing I ever did was play the accordion (don’t laugh) for two years beginning when I was five years old. Oh, yeah, and the flute in 5th grade. That didn’t last long when I was practicing (what else but) my softball swing and part of the flute flew off and hit my dresser—just what you want to tell your parents about your rented musical instrument. I dabbled in the Girl Scouts for a year, but got tired of wearing green, and I never did have very many patches to put on my sash. In 7th grade, I was a “Rainbow Girl” but grew tired of the “properness” of this secret society.

I was (and to some degree still am) most comfortable doing what I do best.

Otherwise, I spent most of my time with a glove, a pair of cleats, or a ball of some kind. Most recesses were spent playing kickball or tether ball. For years, my stepmom would waste time by putting those pink foam curlers in my hair the night before school pictures and encouraging me to wear dresses to school. What she didn’t know is that I secretly took an extra set of clothes to school to change into—you just can’t play kickball wearing a blue corduroy jumper and black dress shoes.

What I didn’t realize in my attempt to hide among all of the other kids in school was that I actually stood out.

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Because I was good. Because I was different, without even knowing it.

Regardless of how hard I tried to be invisible, I was unable to hide. People still saw me.

But this article isn’t about the clothes I wore in 5th grade or the number of teams I was on while a kid; it’s really about something bigger.

It’s about the legacy we create because we are different. It’s about the rules we think we need to follow to ensure that any potential we have within remains hidden. It’s about the way we are who we were born to be.

If you were to look at all of the great visionaries of the past century, you will find one common quality among them: they all stood out. They all were unique in their own way. They took risks. They failed. They were criticized. They refused to quit. They tried again. They succeeded. They made history.

We all are born with talents unlike anyone else and only our experiences shape those talents into something we either share with the world or we pretend don’t exist. Either way, the real you will eventually come to the surface. It always does.

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Some people set out to change the world at a very early age while others end up doing so almost by accident.

Creating a legacy doesn’t begin with writing history in such a way that we notice it immediately. It isn’t found in some great new invention or a way to feed the hungry. Most often, it begins with something much smaller.

It begins with a single thought. A single idea. A single vision. A single word.

All of those things comes together to start the conversation, to initiate change.

Our willingness to not only notice the world, but react to it in such a way that burying our talents no longer is an option is how we change everything. Our willingness to allow ourselves to be seen and heard is the position we take—not because it is required by others, but because it was bestowed upon us to share.

For far too long, we have permitted ourselves to be hermits and recluses in order to excuse our lack of action and our believed shortcomings. We have done this world and everyone in it a huge injustice and disservice and the only way to rectify it is to be who we were born to be.

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Some were born to swing and never share a single note attached to a melody. Some were born to dance and never grace us while they float on stage. Some were born to play and never make a single team. Some were born to create and never put those ideas to paper or disclose them to anyone else. Some were born to lead, yet sit quietly in the shadows. Some were born to design, to write, to build, but never do.

Instead, they remain where no one can see them, ignoring our need to have their talents shared with us.

Greatness is found in the willingness to be different every time. No one remembers the legacy that looks like every other one. Your legacy cannot be written if it is locked away behind everything you were born to be.

We all have something unique about us and until we find it and share it, we cheat the world.

Need help finding your greatness?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I LOVE to do?
  2. Where am I most comfortable?
  3. How am I different?
  4. How can I share my gifts with others?

Once you realize and accept you have a gift, no matter how small, you will find moments when it naturally steps out of the shadows as it shows people who you really are. It’s easy to pretend it doesn’t matter and pretend it won’t impact anyone.

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Our legacies are created not after we are gone, but in the life we lived along the way. It is told in the stories, pictures and memories that leave imprints on the lives it touched and become something that is impossible to erase.

Be different. Because you are. The sooner we embrace our gifts instead of fighting against them the better we are for the world and the people in it.

True greatness lies there—and it always will.

Featured photo credit: Lindy Baker via unsplash.com

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Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

More Tips on Advancing Your Career

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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