Sunday, May 30, 2010

Are you above schoolyard politics?

On the way home from our relaxing weekend in the Snowy Mountains, my husband and I stopped off to share a delicious, hot, Dutch apple crepe in a tiny country town.

Two women - both quilters - were sitting nearby, having an animated discussion, and I amused myself eavesdropping, (as usual).

I only caught snippets of what they were gossiping about, but the snippets went something like this:

'Of course we all supported her - after all, she was a member of the Guild...'

Hushed whispers...

'... the Dalgety Show incident...'

More hushed whispers...

'...obviously machine-done...'

'Oh, I know... I know!' (a la Sybil Fawlty, with much 'tut-tutting' and head-shaking).

Whatever the drama was about, it was clearly ridiculous, as so many of these things are in the grand scheme of things.

It got me thinking about human beings - how banal our petty politics can be, how trivial the content usually is and how badly it reflects on those involved.

Start today

'Schoolyard' politics arise anywhere where a group of people congregate, and offices can be a breeding ground for what I like to call, 'whispering huddle syndrome'.

It can be tempting to get involved - unless, as is desirable, you left this sort of thing behind in primary school along with Sunnyboys and Space Food Sticks.

Be the professional you want others to see you as, and not just when there's a chance someone might be eavesdropping...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stick with it

• Told by a music teacher that 'as a composer he is hopeless'? Beethoven

• Rejected by 12 publishers and 16 literary agents? John Grisham

• Told by a recording company, 'we don't like their sound and guitar music is on the way out'? The Beatles

• Fired from a newspaper because he 'lacked imagination and had no original ideas'? Walt Disney

• Cut from the high school basketball team? Michael Jordan

• Auditioned for All My Children and rejected? Julia Roberts

Start today

Do you give up after a set-back, or do you persevere like the successful people in the list above?

Think how disappointing it would be if it wasn't your talent that was letting you down, but your level of persistence...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A lesson in self-belief

I have to confess that, seven months ago, I was one of the Jessica Watson doubters. I thought it was sheer madness for a sixteen-year-old girl to set out on a solo around-the-world sailing trip in her little pink boat, and had visions of her ending up on the front pages for all the wrong reasons.

Of course, as the months went by, I gained a growing respect for what she was doing. On Saturday, I was glued to the TV for hours, cheering her on and getting teary when she stumbled off the boat and into her parents' arms. What spirit!

Start today

Self-belief is your most powerful asset. You will weather the storms with it, reach lofty goals and battle through, even when others give up on you.

How would you rate your self-belief, out of ten?

Think of times in your life when you sailed through something challenging. For many women, it's getting through childbirth. For others, it's surviving grief, or divorce, or a difficult job.

Make a list of these examples of your personal strength, and think of this as a bucket of courage for your to dip into when you need it next.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Our reach should exceed our grasp

The girls and I, my sister and one of my best friends have taken to entering the Mother's Day Classic fun run as an annual tradition.

The girls like to run in honour of their paternal grandmother and great-grandmother - both of whom are breast cancer survivors.

This year, my eleven-year-old decided she would run the 10km. This is double the longest distance she has ever run, and a bit of a tall order, I thought (given lack of training, other than last week's school cross country carnival where they ran about 4km).

Watching her set off, I was reminded of the time she insisted on entering the 100m open freestyle in the swimming carnival in Year 2 and came last. It was heart-wrenching.

An hour later, she was calling me from the finish line (our 5km walk had begun by this stage), sounding jubilant and energised - she and Auntie ran the whole way without stopping.

Start today

Growth is one of our six 'core needs' - without it we feel stagnant and unfulfilled.

It was Robert Browning who said our 'reach should exceed our grasp', and he was right. There is nothing more motivating than striving for something that may be just out of reach, and nothing more rewarding than realising it wasn't out of reach, after all.

Think about your career. Are you really stretching yourself, or just coasting? Do you feel like you're moving forward, or like you're stuck?

What is the first thing you need to do to propel yourself in the direction you want to go?

Carpe Diem

This week, I've caught up with the news from two old school friends - neither of whom I've seen since the Year 12 formal nearly twenty years ago.

Friend A is tossing up whether or not to have a major career change into something she's extremely passionate about and has always wanted to do. She's worried about timing and finances, and this has been holding her back from making the decision.

Friend B is battling cancer. I can't help wondering what her advice would be to Friend A.

It doesn't seem long since we all had schoolgirl crushes on Ethan Hawke in Dead Poets' Society and were quoting 'Carpe Diem' and sprouting big dreams as though we were invincible.

Start today

So many of our adult choices are based on what might happen in a future we like to think is much more certain than it really is. We fear imaginary consequences, focus on worst-case scenarios and try to keep ourselves as 'safe' as possible.

Could it be that the worst-case scenario is actually playing it too safe and not taking the chances that might ultimately make our lives complete?

Ask yourself which dreams you've swept under the carpet. Are you trapping yourself in a rut, or a comfort zone, falsely thinking you're safe here?

When you think of my Friend B, choose one of your old dreams to focus on. 'Try it on' in your mind and see how you feel when you imagine doing it. You can turn this into reality if you like - or not.

It's your life.