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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.  Our customer had come in to shop with her pet in tow on a random Tuesday afternoon, but from the looks of it had abandoned 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 when he could not find his way back out.  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 toy boxes 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. There was the homeless guy living in his car in the parking lot, the shipments that arrived all hours of the day and night, and the associate who ran off crying in the middle of a transaction, leaving the customer at the checkout looking bewildered.


Today, however, 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 as we exited the building.  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?


What Speaks Loudly

I open the fridge to find it just sitting there. Delicately packaged, neatly arranged, ready and prepared for a new day is my husband’s lunch. I sigh, immediately slump my shoulders and feel the weight of defeat. Regrettably thoughts rush through my mind. Why do I even try? What’s the point? I had come home from work the evening before after a long day of stopping at the repair shop for the car, rushing to work because of the delay, leaving late trying to get everything accomplished, stopping at the grocery store to ensure ingredients were on hand for the week, only to arrive home far past dark and 20 minutes before the little one’s bed time.

Husband had prepared dinner for the kids and kept a bowl warm in the oven, a healthy morsel awaiting my arrival after the day. I appreciate him for these things. For the small acts of kindness that fill in the voids that time demands and the day seizes. Left to my own devices I probably would have eaten a handful of peanuts. However, to my delight a warm bowl of rice and seasoned pork sat on hand, the perfect temperature and deliciously prepared. I consumed enough to quiet the sounds of hunger gnarling inside and without taking a seat or pause, began preparing for the next day. Lettuce to peel, radishes to slice, tomatoes to quarter. Meat folded neatly on bread and wrapped just the same. Yogurt and berry cups prepared for the morning. Lunch cases organized and placed on the middle shelf, I felt accomplished and finally went to change for the evening, ready to shake off the days ventures.

Now, here it sits. Not forgetting his own sacrifice of time and love the night before, I had purposefully appreciated it and offered words of gratitude to him. Encountering the forgotten efforts the next day left me feeling a little deflated. The little one and I loaded up in the car and headed for her school drop off. I messaged him about the abandoned meal. He messages back a sad face and intent to get a granola bar from the vending machine to hold him over. Immediately my heart softens and my frustration melts away. It wasn’t purposefully ignored, just simply forgotten. I considered my agenda for the day and realizing I had enough time to help, I made a new plan.

Little one now in class, I head for the store. I carefully examine prepared meals until I find one that appears diet-friendly and that he might enjoy. Veggies, lemonade, yogurt and a fruit bar later, a new meal is ready to go. I stop by the coffee station on my way out and pick him up a medium roast. A gesture of love on what was is usually a busy morning of meetings and hectic schedules for him. I head east and swing past his office. He greets me with a kiss and a heartfelt thank you.

Nothing else really matters than this. This is marriage. The delicate balance of support and concern, of friendship and gratitude, of making life happen together.

I desire love to be the loudest voice in my life. I hope it echoes off the walls of insecurity and finds its way into the smallest crevices of my heart, like a flood searching for a turbulent exit. May it twist and wind, rush and flow, surge and roll until every last susceptible nook and cranny are overflowing with its abundance. May it tear at the roots of frustration and discontent, washing it far away from the new buds of concern and affection. May I always be willing to love first and demand last, to hope with abandon and run fervently towards compassion.

This usually requires a removal of self, the awareness of emotion that is offered for others and not wrapped tightly around the center of my own desires. It is sometimes a daily occurrence, this allowing of the satisfaction of others to satisfy myself. Yet, its the sweetest taste of life I have ever known.

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