Sunday, June 24, 2012

Feeling broken

I broke my ankle - an accident that could have happened to anyone. I've spent over a week in a haze of pain, sleep and figuring out how to get up and down a set of stairs with one leg. I played a little on my ipad, caught up on personal email, slept some more.

Thanks to Taavi for sending me this post on "impostor syndrome" - a different kind of broken and focused on women. I think everyone, at some point, wonders if they're living up to their reputation or brand. Some days it's scary to walk the line between getting the job done and tooting your horn if your confidence is low at that moment.

The post was a good reminder that I must be my own best critic and/or cheerleader first so that no one can gain more power over me than I already have over myself.

Monday, June 11, 2012

What to say when...

One of the questions I get asked the most is "What do I say when I have nothing to say?"

Yup, it seems like there is an obvious answer: say nothing.

Thinking of the various circumstances in which our minds can go blank....

1 - The big networking event.
You have an introduction (genuine - rehearsed or impromptu).  You meet some interesting folks, get past the handshake and ...suddenly... you have nothing to say.

That's ok. Listening is often better than speaking. Asking questions is easier than answering. Say nothing - get others to talk!

2 - Caught in the elevator with the big cheese (or the person you've been dying to meet)
You might have 2 floors; you might have 10. You want to make an impression but all that springs to mind is "Some weather, huh?"

Only in the movies do careers and lives get made by a fateful elevator ride.
If you have some sort of relationship already and really have something you've dreamed of pitching/offering, you could always say "So glad to run into you. I'm planning to book some time with you /hoping to take you to coffee soon. Looking forward to it." and save the subject for when you have their attention.
If you don't know each other (but wish you did) - then it's the same as standing in line at the grocery store with a stranger: smile; acknowledge them; pay a compliment/ask a question/get the ball rolling. It's not necessary to know in advance what to say; you just have to face the familiar fear of talking to a stranger.  Say something; once the door is open you will have time to think of better things to say.

3 - At a meeting where you just have no opinion
Maybe you zoned out. Maybe it's a topic that has no real impact for you. Maybe you need more time to consider options.

I'm of the opinion that if you have no opinion that's just fine. I don't get where all the pressure comes from for us to have opinions on everything. Does someone have a different opinion on this?

Saying nothing is just fine.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Building community

It's not a new idea. We do it every day. Every act of kindness, offer of help, question, or shared piece of information builds a community around each of us. The real effort comes when we try to do it deliberately and consciously - to not wait for the invitation but to invite; to not wait to be asked but to offer. Rejection doesn't come as often as we fear it might. (though it does still come but if everyone liked everyone that would be creepy...)

Another name for this is networking - building stronger ties with those you know and forging new ones. None of this takes an event, party or large meeting.

Our communities overlap through shared interests, people or projects. We don't have to know everyone directly; we just need to be open to collaborating across shared connections.

Each of us already has a community; fewer of us deliberately fill ours. There is nothing wrong with being deliberate, with being interested in new people, activities, knowledge sources and opinions. Sincerity of interest is the key. Openess and trust in sharing what we know or feel is important. Family, friends, acquaintances - the inner and outer rings of our circles - are the buffers and safety nets of an uncertain world. (thanks for being part of mine and inviting me into yours - I promise to list each of you in my Academy Award speech one day!)