A Thought on Friday Eve

Start by watching this video.

Great moments are born through great opportunity. Every bottleneck that exists in our operation today is a chance for a great opportunity to eventually be born. Every bad egg that changes or leaves our building is an opportunity for a thriving team to be developed. Motivation can’t be taught but it can be contagious and why would you want to settle for anything other than your best?

We often say that we lack time but yet we find the time to feel like crap. The time to fill the air with negativity instead of the positivity that needs to exist in order for us to feel good, to be rewarded, to get everything we wish existed today and then some.

Ask any professional athlete and they will tell you that the name on the front is more important than the name on the back. However, the names on the back can reflect positively or negatively on the name on the front.

Be a positive force to be reckoned with.

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Lessons from Playoff Hockey

When I was 3 or so years old, it wasn’t uncommon to hear me yelling “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!” or “Michael, Michael Motorcycle” as I sat in front of the TV watching a little black puck move across the screen. I was able to recognize the players by name and was excited when my parents brought home a Bun Bar with a special Mario Lemieux collectors card inside (I swear that thing sat in our freezer until I left for college).

As I sit here 27 years later watching my hometown team (with coverage airing 5 seconds earlier than back in the ‘Burgh), I find myself wondering if the players are paid similar to those on Dancing with the Stars and drawing many links between the NHL playoffs and normal, everyday life.

Fight and Move On

One thing that I admire in most hockey players is their ability to be radically candid (more on that to come in a later post). Players throw a few punches, tear off their gloves and their opponents helmet, maybe draw some blood and move on with it. Sure, some bad blood lingers well into the season and after but they make clear their intentions and continue toward their goal. What if life in general was like that? What if we provided constructive criticism? What if we stood by our beliefs and morals, voicing our opinions without fear of failure or being liked? What if we sat back and listened and appreciated everything others had to say even if it differs from our own voice? What if we engaged in healthy arguments and raised our voices every now and again? While none of those things involve physically hurting another, what would it hurt to use our words? When did we become so “nice” in the workplace and in our lives to quiet the voice inside? Why can’t we fight, listen and move on?

Find Your Line

The cool thing about hockey is how coaches and players unite to then divide players into smaller teams or lines. To find those individuals who can advocate and support one another. You have the penalty killers and in Pittsburgh’s 2016 season, we had HBK, amongst others. Every team is a tribe with a bunch of little tribes built in between. Find an advocate within your organization. I believe in the power of having a mentor (formal or not) that is older than you and one that is younger than you. Find your advocate and be one in return. There will be a time when you need your teammates to pick up the slack and help you and you will be needed in return.

Give 110%…Then Rest

Do you know of any one athlete that plays every minute of every game? Probably not. If you watch any hockey game, you’ll see players coming off and on to the bench as quickly as the puck exchanges sides. Life should be the same. Get out there, give life your all then take a break and get right back at it. There is no harm in taking 5 minutes out of every hour to recharge. Burnout happens when you work continuously without taking a breather. On top of that, it’s bad for your health as prolonged sitting and stress wreaks havoc on the body. Your work and reputation will thank you for those short little breaks. Doing so does not make you less of a person or employee so let go of those limiting beliefs.

Draw a Penalty

Push the envelop. Ask for forgiveness instead of permission. Most of what we are afraid to do never materializes into the worse-case scenarios we conjure up. If you approach everything from a place of kindness and genuine concern, more likely than not, the worse thing that will happen is that you draw a penalty. It’s okay to take risks. With that, however, be willing to accept constructive criticism in return. Be willing to hear that you shouldn’t have responded to a customer’s email in the way that you did. If your boss is decent, he or she will provide you with a recommendation on how to be better the next time around. When it comes to life, be willing to deal with any regret or negative emotions for your actions. If that happens, go back to the first point above.

Go to the Penalty Box

In line with the two notes above, send yourself to the penalty box. Take a time out. Allow yourself some time to sit in silence and reflect on your actions and devise a strategy to be better moving forward. Take 2 minutes to let others help you out while helping yourself. Learn from your mistakes and get back out there with all you’ve got.

Sports give us hope. They allow us to play out fantasy’s by watching the athletes and teams that inspire. While not all of us have the novelty of embroidering an “A” or “C” on our shirts, we each have the power to have the same attributes of those larger-than-life figures both on and off the field or ice. Life is a team sport. We are each pawns in this huge game and while our lives aren’t available on instant replay, we have the power to change each play moving forward and be champions.

I (and most women…) Screwed Up

I promise I’m working but sometimes I get stuck in a rut where the hamster in my head is running rampant on its wheel and I have to take a few to purge my thoughts onto my screen in order to be able to reset and be productive.

Welcome to my life.

The statement above poses my first question–WHY DO WE, AS WOMEN, ALWAYS APOLOGIZE? A man would probably take it upon himself to take a breather or even be told to do so.

Why do women always feel the need to be kind? To please? To be granted permission instead of forgiveness? We need to break this cycle.

As I mentioned in a past post, I’m a humanist, not a feminist. I believe that we are all given equal opportunities and have the chance to make or break each and every thing but that there is something engraved in the female DNA that holds us back.

Rewind to a few weeks ago when our new company handbook was distributed and there was a part about maternity leave. Automatically my brain went into panic mode and my dreams of starting a family shattered because of my desire for a successful career. Would I be fired for becoming pregnant?1 Am I setting myself up to be fired from a job I love because those thoughts cross my mind?!

Career vs. Family.

Door A. vs. Door B.

Security vs. Hopes and Dreams.

Let’s be honest–I’m not getting any younger so starting a family is bound to happen at some point. Will it be in the next year? Two years? Five years? Ever? Those questions have yet to be answered but yet I still find myself getting nauseous at the thought.

To make matters worse, I sent an email to my boss to pose an insecure question of whether or not my job would be in jeopardy when the time comes, if it ever does.

To make matters even worse…I’m probably not the only woman to have ever acted that way or to have thought those thoughts.

Why do we self-sabotage? Why do we start backing away to set ourselves up for failure? Tell me the last time a male asked if his job would be in jeopardy because a new addition was on its way.

We need to break the cycle and own our jobs–both personal and professional–and know that we have the grit to be successful all while living an amazing personal life. It is possible to have both worlds and to do a damn good job at everything but how can we put a stop to the cycle of the 1950’s mindset?

I want to hear from you so leave your comments on how you successfully manage a work/life balance in the comments below!

 

 

An Open Letter

Q1 has ended and today my company did what most companies do–we discussed it. Before we got into the numbers and metrics of the past 3 months, we first spent some time discussing our new company mission–the story behind our brands.

Anything new is always met with skepticism. As we learned more about our new identifiers, I made it a purpose to be mindful and scan the room for reactions or a lack thereof. Maybe it was the fact that we were looking at a PowerPoint presentation at the start of a 2-hour meeting. Maybe it was the fact that some may have been tired from already putting in a full days work but the response was minimal. No questions, no comments, no nothing.

That lack of response got me to thinking about our culture and determining what makes each individual tick and get excited.

I was looking through some old emails/files last week and came across the a “company culture cookbook” and wanted to share it with everyone. Today and as we grow, our culture really is the company that we keep. It’s the company that we keep in our customers and colleagues—past, present and future.

Culture is the thing that can make or break us and our goals personally and professionally. Unfortunately, some think that “corporate culture” is some sort of taboo corporate cliché. That couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the tactics of every company should be to get each and every employee to drink the metaphorical Kool-Aid. Our Kool-Aid greets us every morning in the form of our Core Values but are we truly living and feeling those?

 Hopefully this afternoon’s meeting started a teeny, tiny flame in each one of you to be passionate and to let that passion fly and be contagious (or added to the raging fire already in existence). Hopefully it served as a gentle reminder of why we are here and why we do the things we do day in and day out. We do save lives and that’s something really cool to get behind and be proud of.

In addition to our Core Values, I’d encourage each of you to embody the 7 Pillars of Delight—for your customers, colleagues and, most importantly, yourself:

1.    Delight Team Members

2.    Educate Team Members

3.    Empower Team Members

4.    Listen

5.    Ask

6.    Serve Everyone

7.    Follow-UpResolve all problems. Eliminate the risk of losing trust developed.

I feel that I need to end this email by saying “Namaste” but instead I’ll close by wishing you all a great evening!

–Ashley

Why This? Why Me?

 

Welcome to my blog. Welcome to my story.

The fact of the matter is, I love writing–thank you cards, blogs, short stories, journal entries, long stories, emails. There is nothing more satisfying to me than being able to transfer the storm of stories and thoughts in my head onto paper or a screen.

My love of books and reading may have contributed to this passion.

There is nothing cooler to me than being swept away in pages of text and using my imagination to see the characters…to actually feel that I am the characters. I feel the emotion and nothing is more depressing than finishing a book and not being able to continue to movie in my mind.

When thinking about how I wanted to document my journey through the M.I.T. program, I knew I needed to let my authentic self shine through and a boring old PowerPoint presentation wouldn’t do the trick (no offense).

That’s why you are here and hopefully reading the text on your screen.

Me and Nick

Do you recognize the man in the photo above? That’s Nick Clooney. Brother of Rosemary. Father of George. He’s also one of the most down-to-Earth humans I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with and learning from. He is part of the reason why I chose to document my personal and professional journey with a website.

Right after that photo was taken, Nick told me that I made a huge mistake by not getting into Journalism as I originally intended. After all, I was published on both national and local stages. I also had and still have an incredible curiosity for people and events which is why I listen more than I speak. I’m an observer.

Consider this my second chance.

Everything you find here will directly apply to me, my journey and the program. Please comment and share your insights. I look forward to giving you a glimpse of my imagination and learning about each of yours in return.