Defining Success at Work

Where does the power of success reside? In the ability to adapt, recover and respond. In the ability to show up again and again while maintaining character, attitude and self-control. When we are successful at perseverance, we are successful in much.

StrongHerPurpose
Business Planning Meeting

We came around the corner at the same time and both stopped abruptly.  In the middle of the aisle, near the small toys and candy boxes, a puppy had left us a little puppy-type gift.  The type that rules like, “No Pets Allowed” tries to avoid.  Marley and I look at each other and she sighed.  “I’ll get this one,” she said.  “You had that kid with the mac and cheese incident.” 

Ah, I had indeed.  A customer was in shopping with her four-year old when he suddenly didn’t feel well.  Unable to hold down his lunch, he got sick on the sales floor in the middle of the bike aisle.  A look of pure horror washed over his mom’s face and like a military-trained emergency rescue mission, she scooped him up in her arms and proceeded to make a run for the exit.  The restrooms were far closer, but unfamiliar with the layout and obviously wanting to hide her very existence, she headed for the car.  He was sick all the way to the front doors.  Being the manager on duty, I responded immediately and commenced mopping and sanitizing as quickly as I could.

The puppy however, was a different story.  Apparently, this customer thought it appropriate to shop with her pet in tow on a random Tuesday afternoon and then abandon the need to clean up after Fido when he was less than potty trained.  Let me interject that we are not a pet store.  We love your furry friend, but we have polite rules and requests in place in order to avoid situations like we found this day.  A mop wasn’t going to cut it. 


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Retail management involves a variety of skills I have acquired through experience…ones that education alone cannot prepare you for.  I have been called on as a maintenance mechanic, plumber, electrician, counselor, relationship expert, mediator, HVAC inspector, groundskeeper, safety patrol and service agent.  I have worked to free a bird who flew in through open doors and subsequently panicked that his access to nature had been stripped from his life-plan.  I have observed customers who chased other customers out of the store for suspected stealing (while screaming “thief!!!” as loudly as possible), where ultimately a car chase also ensued and laws were probably broken.  Then there was the time that security proceeded to fire a taser at an individual and drop him at the checkout lane in the entrance of the store.  Customers thought someone had been shot and proceeded to take shelter in areas of the store.  We worked to quickly assure each one of their safety and a lot of phone calls with corporate happened that day. 

I have sandbagged entrances while staying open in a hurricane; dumped plastic toyboxes full of water from one to another from 20’ in the air, while trying to keep the backroom from flooding in a torrential rainstorm; and responded to a customer who was threatening bodily harm to everyone in her path if we did not pull her order faster. 


Today I have cheese in my pocket.  It has hardened overnight and has a glossy sheen that I feel is keenly unnatural for a dairy product.  Chatting in my team for our morning routine, I reach in and discover its presence.  It is unwrapped and appears to have been slightly enjoyed and then rejected as the edges were nibbled.  The evening before at closing, my associate and I discovered the remnants of a foot-long sandwich which had been partially consumed on a $1,000 pair of living room chairs near the front of the store.  Also left behind were leaves of lettuce and open packets of mustard.  Worth noting is that we do not serve food at our location.  We have home goods and décor, pillows and canvas art.  You cannot purchase lunch here, or dinner for that matter.

After washing down the discovery and restoring our product to its former glory, we exit to find the rest of the meal smashed on the ground in front of the entryway.  Sigh.  I continue to clean and toss the bread in the bushes for the squirrels.  It is already past my bedtime and I’m 10 years into this venture of management, so I’m feeling a little weary today.

So, why continue?  Why continue putting my effort to business everyday when the glory of business management seems so elusive?  I get up every morning, dress up, put on my makeup, tame this wild mane of curls into something presentable and proceed to stock shelves, welcome customers, be a counselor, teacher, friend, advocate, coach and business acumen aficionado. 


So, why?  It is because of passion. It is because I love my team, my customers and I’m proud of my product.  I am thrilled to see customers excited about styling a particular space in their home and leaving with ideas that they are simply giddy to implement.  They feel enlightened, engaged and invigorated to make their homes exactly into the space they love to live in.  Your immediate space around you is a reflection of your personal taste, style and expression. It is a chance to express exactly who you are.  My home is my sanctuary and I love every little piece of it.

What can we do when we feel the challenges at work are insurmountable or we feel overwhelmed?  What happens when we face a situation that may not even be in our job description or even on our radar of apparent skills?  We persevere.  We are amazing creatures with the ability to adapt, recover and respond.  We strive to maintain respect of those around us, even when another human has made a less-than-amazing choice that leaves you dealing with the aftermath.

Take a deep breath, friend.  Take a step away, if necessary.  Reach out for help and expertise of those above and around you who can lend wisdom and advice.  Remember that work is work and it does not define your life story.  When I managed a coffee shop my superior manager would just say something to the effect of, “It’s just water over beans, guys! We can handle it!”  Work has given me stressful days, hilarious antics, and challenged my character, at times.  I have laughed over my job, cried over my job, obsessed over my job, and quit 1,000 times in my mind.  I know, however, that getting to work with the people around me has also shaped me into a better version of myself.  I have met amazing individuals whom have impacted my life journey in so many ways.  I’m thankful for the friendships and opportunities my career has afforded me.  I’m thankful that several companies have entrusted me in my role with decision-making processes that impacts millions of dollars in revenue each year. 

When I’m in the trenches and working through the daily grind, I’m still thankful.  Success can be defined in different ways.  Sometimes it is hitting big goals and celebrating achievements, sometimes it is helping a colleague or employee through a tough decision, and sometimes it is climbing up on the roof, investigating odd smells, and receiving freight trucks in the middle of the night.  However we define success, it is usually one step at a time.  The power lies in sticking through the tough times and shining bright in the more celebratory moments.  It’s putting the best version of myself forward in every circumstance, living through the moment, and rising in the morning to do it all again.

Rachel Asks: What tough situations are you facing in your work day and what would best help you to overcome the challenge?  How can you leverage others around you to assist you in achieving your goals for success?  What would help you feel amazing today?

Dressing for Confidence: How to Use Color to Inspire Your Style

Dressing for Confidence: How to Use Color to Inspire Your Style

I have this glorious idea of how I will spend my time when such day arrives that I fulfill a life-long dream and vacation to the city of lights, the city of pastries, romance and love.  The one and only splendor of Paris.  Oh, I plan to drink in all her beauty with child-like wonder and amazement.  With wide eyes I will walk the streets and behold the old charm of her architecture.  I long to delve deep into her museums to learn her history, enjoy her artisans and be intoxicated by her lure. 

I can imagine the succulence of fresh baked croissants, warm and almost melting with every bite.  The aroma of bread, baking in the café.  I even know what I’m going to wear.

I have envisioned this outfit for as long as I can remember.  I want red heels.  I mean bright, crunchy candy apple, light-catching, deliciously tempting red heels.  A blue, polka-dot ruffled skirt and a crisp white blouse.  A string of pearls will adorn my neck and I will be a full-on Parisian girl. 

Polka dots in Paris.

Someday I will wear polka dots in Paris.

Would I still enjoy my trip in stripes or paisley?  More than likely.  However, there is something about polka dots that just makes me feel like I’m part of the culture, the scene, and that I belong.

That’s the funny thing about being a girl, what we wear has the ability to let our true selves shine a little brighter.  It’s a form of expression, a way to speak to the world without saying a word. It’s not about a particular brand or style, or owning who’s-who and keeping up with “fashions” and “trends.”  It’s about how you feel in what you wear.

Clothing can have significant influence over us.  We want to feel like modern, dominating women.  We want to say, “I dictate how I feel!  I wear my clothes, they don’t wear me!”  Honestly, how you express yourself to the world has the ability to change your own mood, inspire confidence and promote feelings of motivation and success.

Want to feel like you’re conquering the world?  Put on what makes you feel most confident.  Want to feel warm and connected to the people around you?  Toss on your husband’s sweatshirt or pin that paper flower in your hair that your kid made you in school yesterday.  These things have the ability to affect how we feel about ourselves and others.

You may be thinking nonsense, I feel like my fabulous self no matter what I wear.  Girlfriend, good for you!  You have unlocked a confidence achievement level that some of us are still out here striving for!  You take that confidence and promote it brightly!  For the rest of us, what we wear can boost our mental and emotional processes in how we take on the world.

According to BrainFodder.com, “Research says the quickest little fix for a bad day is to wear brightly colored clothes. Cheerful colors work as a mini pick-me-up; and thus boosting our mood and energy. Also, we associate bright colors with happiness, sunny days, and carefree times (like the summer vacations when we were kids).”  Check out the rest of the article here.

The great news?  You do not have to be a fashionista to achieve this feeling!  Perhaps style is the furthest thing from your mind or is one of those “skills-I-wish-I-had” kinda things.  That’s ok!  You do not  have to feel less that absolutely beautiful in your own skin or with what you wear. The idea is that you feel like your best self in how you choose to express yourself to the world.  Want some pointers?

  • Inspiring Self-Confidence in Your Wardrobe

Every morning I go through this routine where I select my outfit based on my mood.  From my hairstyle all the way down to my intimates.  I am soooooo far from making it on the pages of a fashion magazine, but I choose pieces that inspire what I want to accomplish on any given day.  Today I wanted to feel bold and I had an agenda for the morning that would keep me busy.  I wanted to feel motivated to not only start these tasks but to also finish them, so I chose a skirt with dominating stripes in bright green, black and gray.  Green inspires growth and harmony and I desired to feel optimistic and hopeful throughout my day. 

I did not have to go out and buy a new wardrobe to accomplish this feeling.  I selected what I had on hand that would suit the mood I wanted to achieve.

  • Bright Colors as a Mood Booster
    The charming thing about color is absolutely the way it makes us feel!  Yellow is for joy, optimism and the color of flowers you choose to convey friendship.  Use this chart for great color reference:
Image source: Pinterest – SeeJaneWork
  • Staying Classy and Sassy
    Let us remember that less isn’t always more!  Sometimes more is more.  Although we want to feel like the amazing, beautiful creatures that we are, we can also stay classy, sassy and sophisticated by leaving a little mystery to the eye.  We absolutely do not need to drop our necklines down to solicit attention or hike those hemlines up and put ourselves on some kind of visual display.  We are confident in the colors we choose to wear and the styles in which we choose to express ourselves.  We wear denim with our dresses and boots when we feel like it suits our mood.  A little modesty can go a long way!  Enjoy a little lace, a little ruffle, a red-leather jacket to the movies.  Go out and be your sassy, classy self!

Rachel Says: For more go check out Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion by Professor Karen Pine.  It’s a digital quick-read on a fresh perspective for reasons to re-vamp your wardrobe and feel like your best, beautiful self! Go grab a copy today!

Cheers, loves!

Redemption of a Critic

Redemption of a Critic

How do I judge thee?  Let me count the ways.  I see wrinkles and some laugh lines.  Wait, your style has gone astray. A little chub, a little drab, too many freckles dot your nose.  Some grays are showing through that dye job. You are tired and it shows. 

You are too busy and too scattered.  When is the last time you worked out?  Overworked, underappreciated.  Oh, I wouldn’t eat that amount.  You’re unkempt, trying too hard, maybe today is not your day.   I’m sure there was a better outfit choice this morning.  Um, you shouldn’t wear stripes that way.

I would have dressed up or dressed down.  Painted my cheeks a different pink.  I surely would have pulled my hair up.  It would look better, don’t you think?  Your face is too long, eyes too big and shoulders wide.  Hide your ears, quiet your voice, stuff all your fears inside.  Wear something different, that look is lame.  Same favorite sweater? Lacking grace, what a shame.

Sigh. Maybe I have made myself feel better by criticizing who you are.  But, it will be brief and very fleeting as selfish thoughts splinter my heart.  It will take a bit of warming, a bit of letting down my guard, before I can look much deeper and see who you really are.

What I have not noticed is that you’re so unique. Creative and amazing, you are truly at your peak.  I hadn’t seen it all before.  But, by looking a little deeper, I can appreciate you so much more.

Girl, yes you are too tired.  Can I help you out with that? I understand when days feel short and life’s demands have knocked you flat.

Girl, you are so busy.  I can see you focused in.  You’re climbing the ladder of success, looking for a total win.

Girl, I commend your effort, giving life all you’ve got.  You show tenacity and spirit.  From you, I could learn a lot.

Girl, you could be more recognized, but it’s not approval that you seek.  You’re happy if the kids are fed and you’ve kept up another week.

Girl, I do love that sweater, those boots and that smile.  But what I have learned today is worth cannot be measured by a sense of style.

My friend, great job on all you’ve accomplished and for letting your light shine.  I hope my passion can mimic yours and someday be just as fine.

Rachel Asks: Have we ever found ourselves on the receiving end of unkind words and criticism? It makes us feel as if life is a performance sport where we are judged constantly based on our ability to perform at someone else’s standard. Conversely, have we found ourselves on the the giving end of such harsh words and thoughts? Where we have deemed someone’s worth based off our personal opinion of them? We can do much better as women! We can do much better as moms, sisters and friends. How can you show love today? How can you reverse this trend?


Learning to Trust

Learning to Trust

The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, my salvation, my high tower, my refuge, and my savior…

II Samuel 22:3

It was insufferable, the agony of waking to each new day but feeling no new sense of sunlight, of purpose or relief. The weight of the previous day and the day before that, and the one before that, clung to me like a concrete brick, with the full force settling on my chest and making it difficult to do simple things like breathe. What was the sense in trying today? I had no hope on the horizon, no reason to believe today was going to be any different.

Reminded of my obligations to things like work and bills, I moved through the day with robotic existence. Trying hard not to let myself feel too deeply or get too lost in my own sorrow and self-pity, I filled my days with busy things from sun-up until sun-down. Work was mostly my outlet, my excuse to be too busy to feel. I started a 2nd job to fill in the gaps the first one left behind. I volunteered, I worked, I busied.

I had no idea why my marriage had ground to a screeching halt. It wasn’t perfect, by any means. But I had not realized it was on the brink of utter failure. In fact, I didn’t realize this until I was away one Sunday morning, returned home and found our townhouse cleared out. Not even a note.

I figured out quite quickly that life would require a great deal of commitment to survive. Thankful for friends and family who provided emotional support, who cheered me on and came to my aid, I indeed did survive.

It took me quite a long time to feel alive, however. Being a victim of circumstance was challenging. I felt as if I had lost my husband, my home, my stability, my future, my hopes and all my dreams in just a single day. Now aimless and uncertain of the future, I spent quite a bit of time in prayer. For a while, I felt aimless in that too.

I wanted to know why and how I had failed, he had failed, we had failed in our vows to one another. I could not afford our home on just a single salary and I was forced to move within the matter of a few weeks. I fell to my knees again, “God, why am I going through this? Why is this trial in my life? How can this possibly get better?”

One such prayer session it was as if I heard in my mind the words “Matthew, seven and nine.” Unsure of the verse I opened my bible to search. “Or what man of there is you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?” Intrigued, I scanned the previous statements.

Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened unto you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a snake? If you then, being unholy, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

“God does not arbitrarily or unintelligently answer our prayers. He is a faithful father, one who responds with love and understanding.”


It hit me all at once, God was communicating to me that he was, in fact, listening. He heard all of those prayers, saw every tear, understood every moment of confusion. I was asking him for direction and as my father, he was not going to leave me faltering on my own.

Immediately, I clung to this hope. Faith is not intended to be a magic wand and God does not arbitrarily or unintelligently answer our prayers. He is a faithful father, one who responds with love and understanding. He saw the brokenness in my spirit and he gave me hope that he would meet me there for the mending.

I now realized that this trial was an opportunity. If I were willing to let him in, God could use it for my good. He could fashion something out of all my failures. I began to change my prayers. “Father, what can I learn in this moment and what are you trying to teach me? Help me to grow! Help me to trust! Help me to move forward and out of this dark place.”

This perspective and application of faith began to change the vision I had for my future. I became forward thinking again, not because I trusted myself, but because I knew the hand of the Father was there to guide me.

I began to channel my energies into productive choices. I returned to college, I looked for ways to serve my community. Instead of just being busy for the sake of filling my time, I was now passionate again about life because hope surrounded the day.

For some people they are able to recover marriages and restore those relationships once again. I am ever so thankful and excited when I see this come together for struggling families. For me, this was not my story. Although something very precious to me had been lost, God was still there in the middle of it all, working on my fragile heart. He taught me how to open my arms wider to those in need and to desire to love each day just a little deeper. He showed me the power of faith and that no matter what circumstance that I was in, that he was still completely faithful, loving and there. He was right there. Just a whisper away.

He taught me that I had not been buried, but rather planted. That I was in a process of growth that he would bring to full bloom at his appointed time. I did not have the power in myself to change the course of events leading up to this time of planting, but I did have the heart to trust God in his timing and in his process.

Rachel Asks: Will you join me on the journey of learning to trust God today? Take a few moments to breathe in and rest for a moment. Close your eyes and allow peace to come to you. Ask for clarity, for direction, for his guidance. He will meet you in this place. Allow him to meet you here.


Not Today, Fear

Not Today, Fear

It came out of nowhere, this rapidly beating heart and sense of anxiety and dread. I begin to scurry about, hurriedly turning things over, flipping things around. It has only been a few seconds, how could I have possibly lost them this fast? I retrace my steps, one time, two times, three…

This isn’t like me at all. Normally organized, meticulous and constantly working through a plan, I do not typically misplace things. I have systems for this, rhythms, rules.

I stop to realize that all my plans account for nothing if I have overwhelmed myself with work and tasks. My memory bank is not keeping up with my pace and now it has lent me to this mistake. I sigh, I turn and then I spy them. The bright orange wrist band peeking out from the corner of a shelf. I walk over and tug gently and out pops my ring of keys from their resting place. I whisper a prayer of relief and thanksgiving, a follow-up to the prayer I prayed while frantically searching. Truly, my heart is grateful.

It’s not that keys cannot be replaced, its the process of having to complete it since they belong to work. We have to replace the locks to the entire building, those above me have to be notified, all others who work in roles under me have to obtain a replacement, the fire department has to be called to replace the one in the lock box…the list goes on and on.

This sense of fear and dread stems from another past failure. Of misplacing something of critical importance at work that ultimately cost me my job. I wasn’t being careless or even non-committed, I had just simply taken my eyes off my responsibility for a moment and a moment is all it takes some times for things to fail. No one was personally affected by my error, but it was of importance to the company and they required me to be responsible. No hard feelings, but walking away from a failure like that leaves one totally susceptible to those fears taking over at the slightest hint of pressure in the future. My greatest personal failure is now my greatest stressor and I have to push that anxiety down over and over again since that time.

Fear has a funny way of taking it’s toll on our mind and body. As WebMD states, fear can cause our body’s sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones like cortisol. This can cause physical reactions such as fast heartbeat, fatigue, headaches, inability to concentrate, irritability, dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, muscle tension, sweating and more. If experienced long-term, these symptoms can lead to more serious issues like stress on the heart, digestive disorders, suppression of the immune system and premature coronary artery disease.

How can we overcome the effects of fear, especially if we have experienced a traumatic life-event or significant loss? For some the pain from the experience continues long after the event, such as the loss of a loved one or someone who has experienced physical or emotional harm. Time can distance us from the event, but our memory replays like a loop in our minds, our heart feels the weight, our body realizes the effect of the stress.

For some, it is a great idea to seek therapy and speak with a professional. Counselors do much more than just listen, they are an advocate for your cause. They can direct you to the best resources to give you support.

To speak with someone today, try BetterHelp.com or call the
National Women’s Health Network

Find additional information at LiveLoveDeep/Resources

You can also make space in your day and apply yourself to quiet times of meditation, relaxation and prayer. According to WebMD, meditation helps balance the body’s systems. The relaxation response your body receives from mindful meditation helps lower blood pressure, improves heart rate, breathing and brain waves. It can also help increase one’s attention, learning, conscious perception, working memory.

The Bible has over a dozen different verses encouraging meditation and almost ten times that amount which speak about prayer. Psalm, chapter 1 describes a person who walks in good counsel and meditates on the Lord and states that person will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, one that is fruitful and prospers.

Meditation and mindfulness can also be a designated quiet time where you remove yourself from the demands of the day and take time to relax, breathe slowly and let your mind slow down. Even if just for a few moments, you will benefit from a pause in your daily routine. Let’s get practicing!

Rachel Asks: Take 3 minutes and devote yourself to quiet time. Set a timer on your watch or phone. Practice breathing at an even pace, close your eyes and remove distractions. Engage in prayer, if you desire. Ultimately, be calm and allow yourself to relax. Add a minute each time until you reach your desired amount. You can practice this several times per day! Check out the site below for recommendations on apps you can download to assist you in this new process.

Click here for Top Prayer Apps from FreeAppsForMe.com

Click here for Top Meditation Apps from Healthline.com

Disclaimer: Author and LiveLoveDeep do not endorse any of the resources listed above. They are merely provided for your convenience. Please speak with a licensed and trained healthcare professional and/or counselor for your personal needs.

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