Defining Success at Work

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. 

Today, defining success at work meant immediate reaction to the situation at hand. Our customer had come in to shop with her pet in tow, but from the looks of it had abandoned the need to clean up after the little fluff-ball 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. 


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.  Defining success today may look like reaching 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?

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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!

Redeeming Your Time

Redeeming Your Time

The present time has one advantage over every other…it is our own.
– Charles Caleb Colton

If I had a friend that, without fail, gave me 24 gifts every day, I would be elated. I hope among all the iced lattes, massages, and new shoes that I wouldn’t lose my appreciation for them. When the walls were filled with beautiful art and I had traveled to a hundred different cities all around the world, would I still wake up the next morning with child-like anticipation for my next gift?

Would I spend time reflecting on the gifts of yesterday or simply starve for the next sunrise – greedily wanting more?

What if they missed one? What if on one particular day my friend only brought 23 gifts to me? Would this be enough, or would I feel dejected over the loss of one among the pile?

The key is not spending time, but investing it – Stephen R. Covey

I have lived this gift experience, personally and truly, for 14,172 days now. 340-thousand hours of life I have been gifted. Twenty MILLION minutes of adventures, joys, laughter and love. Some of those minutes and hours brought great challenges, but there have been moments of success, achievement and great conquest.

I desire to be careful not to fall victim to the idea that life owes me anything, including time.

Rather, we are gifted time over and over from minute to minute, hour to hour and day to day.

We are afforded the opportunity of redeeming it at our pleasure and disposal. Today I redeemed 12 minutes for a shower, 90 minutes for church and 20 minutes at the grocery store picking out ingredients for a new udon noodle recipe I am excited to try. I redeemed 12 more minutes to sweep and clean the kitchen, 35 minutes of stretching for personal health and 45 minutes to sit and write.

Somewhere in the mix I redeemed 8 minutes to hug and chat with a friend, and another 10 minutes to giggle with the daughter of a friend. I redeemed a few seconds to tell my step-son, “Thank you, I really appreciate all that you do,” when he stepped in to help with the chores. And a few more moments to pet the dog and make sure he also feels love and attention on this beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon.

Later I have plans to redeem a few hours with friends, talking, laughing and enjoying dinner together this evening.

Recently I experienced a frustrating situation that left me feeling negative and displeased. In the midst of dealing with it, I suddenly realized there was no value in the way I was feeling. Sure, I had every “right” to be upset, but what good was this course?

It was only adding stress and tension to my day.

I put down my head, resolved to review the situation with strength and wisdom, and firmly decided I would not redeem any more time to any actions that were not positive. I simply refused to let this situation steal any of my gift of this day. Instead, I moved through the motions of stepping towards peace, and peace I quickly found.

We all have pressing demands in our lives – commitments that tie up our time for some reason or another. These commitments do have value, to be sure.

But, how do we redeem our time otherwise?

When called to put in my time at work during the day, I redeem time to connect with others around me, to offer words of encouragement or a listening ear. I may be committed to this block of time for my employer today, but how I spend it is still up to me. I could spend it frustrated at constant changes and shifting goals that seem elusive or I can spend it investing in others.

How we spend our days, is, of course, how we spend our lives – Annie Dillard

Spending my time at home is no different.  Do I redeem it cleaning and fussing, or connecting and loving? 

Can I find ways to do both so that my obligations and desires of my heart are both fulfilled?

  This looks like engaging the kids in cooking dinner, or making chores into a game with Alexa turning up the music at full blast. How can we work through the process of using and redeeming our time wisely?

Identify Time Pitfalls: How we desire to use our time and how we actually spend it can be two different things. Start by writing down and tracking how you spend your time. This will help you identify things that might be holding up your time, despite your own desires and wishes. I was finding myself at the grocery store three times per week to pick up ingredients and this wastes a lot of time for me, especially as I commute 45 minutes to work each day. That means it can take me up to an hour and a half just to get home in the evenings by adding in this stop. After identifying this time-wasting activity, I started to meal plan at the beginning of the week and making a shopping list. Now one stop per week gives me time back that I can invest into something more productive than a redundant task.

Prioritize What Matters: Our schedules can get hectic and overwhelmed pretty quickly. We can end up having so many pressing tasks and commitments that it is nearly impossible to give quality time to them all. It will help to prioritize what truly matters. Is it life-giving? Is it necessary? Is it healthy to spend your time in this way? Sometimes it is okay to say “no” to another commitment, or “not right now, but perhaps in the future.” I personally would love to volunteer more, however I am working and a student. My time is dedicated elsewhere for the immediate future. It will not always be this way and in a few more months my schedule will change and be more open. I have to be willing to be flexible and honest so that I can prioritize my time correctly.

Redeem Your Time: It truly helps to think of time as a gift. Redeem it wisely and you will not find yourself starved for more minutes. Break tasks into small and manageable pieces to avoid procrastination and spending time unnecessarily. Work daily tasks and chores into your routine so that you can accomplish priorities and enjoy some fun at the same time. For me, this looks like folding laundry while watching my favorite Netflix show, or working on homework while dinner is in the oven. You can have quality time and talks with your spouse while taking a walk together in the evening. Turning off distractions and focusing on spending time with your kids in whatever they enjoy is also a great way to redeem some precious minutes. You will never regret investing time into those you love. Life demands come and go, priorities can readjust, but remember they are only usually for a season. Continue to value your time and respect it. Do not get too stressed if things are not going perfectly. Take a breath, set your intentions and try again. Every effort is time well spent.

24 hours. 24 gifts every day. 

May I wake each sunrise with renewed anticipation and fresh perspective.  It’s a brand new day I have been gifted and one I have not lived yet.  I hope I redeem it for the treasure that it is.

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All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.  For more details, click here.

The Art of Living

The Art of Living

One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.  ~ William Feather

She was dancing.  Moving, swirling, twirling, hips swaying back and forth.  So lost in the moment, she moves with the music like it was written for her.  Her smile says it all.  Pure joy.  She is deep in the rhythm. 

She belongs in this moment.

He stands along the edges of the small crowd, eyes eluding approval and appreciation.  As her body glides gently back and forth, his face reflects adoration.  He is in love.  He is drinking in this moment as her movement speaks poetry directly to his heart.  He simply watches, his eyes fixed upon the beauty that she is creating with each beat, with each slide of her feet and wave of her arms.

A smile spreads across his face, a reflection of love.

He is not on the dance floor, but he is completely living inside this moment with her.  He patiently waits and watches for hours as she enjoys one song after another. Her giggle, her laughter. 

It endlessly echoes across the walls.  

Their young daughter grows tired and curls up on the carpet under a dinner table close by.  He crouches down and ensures her comfort.  He takes a seat nearby and he simply waits by his ladies, his wife and his daughter, content to simply be near them.

This is the amalgamation of marriage.  

This is the irrefutable bond that unites two former strangers into a single heartbeat.  He needed nothing at the present, he ignored the hands of the clock and the demands of time.  He simply existed.  Simply existed in her moment.

Strong:Her author Rachel K. and her husband, Chris

Oh, that we could all offer this to our spouse or family or a friend without hesitation or definition. 

What pleasure to simply exist in their moment with them? 

To have no other purpose than a resolve within ourselves to simply be.  Like a momma in the stands at a baseball game, watching with anticipation and pride.  Like a daddy watching his little girl ride a bike for the first time.  Not judging, wanting or needing anything…just being present, being there, being an observer in the moment with them.

Watching this particular family enjoy the wedding celebration of a mutual friend, it makes me wonder…when was the last time I felt this kind of freedom? 

When was the last time I found my purpose in simply existing in the moment? 

Do I let the demands that life seems to have, the sands of time in the hourglass at work, the due dates, deadlines and productivity goals define my purpose?  Or could I simply just exist in moments and let joy be the only reason for living?

I intend to practice this by looking for moments where I lay everything else aside and simply drink in the experience that life is affording me. 

One of these recent moments for me was riding down a narrow mountainside in the back of a dump truck, sitting on a bed of sand with a bunch of other ladies, heading to a little church down deep in the valley in Nepal to meet a group of women and share love and a message of purpose and hope.   

The sun was shining bright and warming my face.  We were bouncing around like crazy, laughing and having fun, and I felt nothing but joy and excitement.  (You can read more about this experience here.)

It was a moment to just simply be, to experience life in unplanned and unexpected fashion, to just let my heart be full in the moment. 

This is the purpose that I desire to have for my life.  To purpose joy, to purpose hope, to purpose love.  To be intentional about sharing kindness, goodness, mercy, compassion, a helping hand.  To infuse the world with wonderful and marvelous friendships and bonds.  And to wrap myself up in the unending opportunity for experience and laughter. 

It is in this idea of intending purpose that I find the art of living to be so magnificently amazing.

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Finding Purpose in an Ordinary Life

Finding Purpose in an Ordinary Life

God does not require a spectacular individual to complete his work. He only asks that the willing heart answer the call. You, my friend, are worthy enough to find your purpose. You were meant for extraordinary things. This, I believe for you.

– Rachel K.
Nepal, June 2019

The sun is up and the birds are chirping. As a new morning arises, I listen to the sounds of the earth waking up. A bus passes by, down shifting to make a turn, a car close behind. Serene and familiar are the light sounds of traffic flowing by the open window. Yet, it dawns on me that something is missing. I do not hear the rev of single-stroke engines mounted to motor bikes, nor their patterned honking as they pass one another with flurried ambition. Yes, they are most assuredly missing from this morning scenario. Ah, it is too quiet. Realization dawns that I have left my heart in other places. Most recently, this was Nepal.

Sharing a learning experience with the women of Nepal

We spent a week among the beautiful Nepalese people. From high in the mountains, sometimes even above the clouds, to down low in the valley, surrounded by the brightest green mountains. Our team of six ladies, eager to answer the call, three translators full of beauty and grace, and one pastor with a willing heart, traveled the city of Kathmandu and it’s surrounding villages. Three hours up to the peak, or even more hours south towards India, we ministered and preached, shared lunch, tears, joy, hugs and worship with women of all ages. Meeting in community centers and on the porches of local homes, we distributed water filters, brought the gospel and desired to demonstrate the love of Jesus to each and every soul.

Praying with the women of Nepal

An experience like no other is to hold the hand and pray with a stranger who is seeking to start their own ministry to their local friends and neighbors, or to embrace one woman out of the entire crowd who braved hecklers and opposition to declare faith and claim her seat at the father’s table.

Water filter distribution, Nepal

This is the call of missions. The desire to meet and walk with strangers, to be welcomed as friends, to invite them into the Father’s house, no matter if nationality, tongue or culture is vastly different. Recognizing that we are all children of the almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, the call of missions is to bring and share the good news to the far corners of the earth.

StrongHer author, Rachel K., riding in a dump truck down a mountainside to share water filters, hope and love with residents of Nepal

Humbled, I am, to think that God would even consider to use my hands, feet or voice. Submitting my heart and full-self to his will, I too grow in innumerable measure by his love.

Praying together, Nepal 2019

Although my time abroad was brief and I feel the demands of daily life once again upon me, I have realized one thing…my heart is still there, still beating on the missions field. A longing churns inside realizing my true home is in the midst of kingdom work, in the middle of a circle of prayer for a stranger, or in the holding of hands with a woman whose name I do not know, yet our spirits realize each other as sisters. It is there, in the presence of God, where I find my true home.

Sharing water filters with multiple families in Nepal

Nothing else can satisfy like working in something that fulfills purpose. If you are seeking this in your life, or in a period of searching, then I understand you, friend. You are not alone on this journey. Feel free to share how you feel purpose in your life and what you are doing to fulfill it. I would love to share in this adventure with you.

Ministering and sharing in worship with women in Nepal
A young boy, Nepal 2019
Cross on a church door, Nepal 2019

Disclaimer:

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.  For more details, click here.