Life is Made of Moments

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I believe life is made of moments. We may not recognize them at the time, but the decisions we make every day open new doors and send us down the paths that shape our lives. Moments in time. Chance encounters. Decisions.

I was recently thinking back on the most important series of moments in my life. I had just turned down a job that would have taken me from my hometown in Massachusetts out to California. It wasn’t the right job. A friend of mine who had just broken up with her boyfriend wanted me to go to a party, and even though I wasn’t in the mood, I decided to go to be with her. While I was there, I happened to meet a guy named Gary. At the last minute, he had decided to go to the party with some friends. He didn’t really want to be there either. Turns out, he’d just been offered a job in Cincinnati. But he had turned it down. Wasn’t the right job. We talked and eventually started dating. Years later, Gary and I still think about the decisions we made that brought us together—the moments that changed our lives.

What’s interesting to me is that, even though we were young, we were both in tune with where we were in life and what we wanted. We were open to new adventures and new opportunities, but only if they were the right ones. Now, some choices end up being the “wrong” ones, no doubt. But life has a way of course-correcting and bringing us back to the path we’re meant to be on.

But I know a lot of people who hold themselves back because they’re afraid of the moment. They aren’t sure what’s on the other side of the door, so they don’t open it. But that’s how you miss opportunities. All the conversations we have, all the people we meet, the connections we make—they’re all moments. If you stay open and are aware of who you are and what you want, you won’t miss the opportunities.

That moment by Seth Godin

When you are sitting right on the edge of something daring and scary and creative and powerful and perhaps wonderful…and you blink and take a step back.

That’s the moment. The moment between you and remarkable. Most people blink. Most people get stuck.

All the hard work and preparation and daring and luck is nothing compared with the ability to not blink.

Life is made of moments. Don’t blink.

Maximize Impact and Influence: Find Your Voice

Maximize Impact and Influence - Part 1 Find your voice
Maximize Impact and Influence - Part 1 Find your voice

Over the course of my career, I’ve had ups and downs, successes and failures. There have been moments of confidence and feelings of incompetence. That’s part of the evolution we all go through over time, right?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about a message I shared a couple years ago at the Women in Cloud Summit and the SHE Conference in Norway about encouraging people to speak up from a place of authenticity. It is a personal philosophy that took me years to develop — and I believe it unlocks individual effectiveness, and in turn, collaborative success. There are three parts to this philosophy that can help you maximize your influence and impact. Over the next three days I’ll be sharing each part of this philosophy.

Find your voice

The first part is about introspection and being able to answer these three questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What do you want to be known for?

Simple questions. Tough to answer…

Who are you? What matters to you? Not what matters to others. What matters to you? We are constantly bombarded with opinions about how we should think and what we should do. When I had my first child, everyone weighed-in with the “best way” to do this or the “wrong way” to do that. But I remember thinking, “This is my child. I’m going to do things the way I want to do them.” So, what is important to you? It is important to find your own point of view – it may be completely unique or an amalgamation of everything you have seen, heard and read. But when you integrate it, it becomes your point of view.

What do you stand for? What are your passions and what do you believe in? Have you thought about what you want to accomplish in your career or your personal life? This is about identifying your personal principles and being clear about your feelings on various topics.

What do you want to be known for? Your values, your ideas, your successes? What is your brand and how do you want people to talk about you when you’re not in the room? This is different than trying to manage “an image”. An “image” is about trying to optimize what people see. What I’m talking about is how you get comfortable and clear on your strengths, your superpowers, and what makes you unique and standout. It has to be utterly authentic. This is your brand.

Answering these questions takes a lot of introspection and commitment. But I’ve found the exercise to be very rewarding. Finding your voice and discovering your perspective on things is the first step in making a personal impact on the world.

Maximize Impact and Influence: Use your voice

Maximize Impact and Influence - Part 2 Use your voice
Maximize Impact and Influence - Part 2 Use your voice

Yesterday I posted part one of my philosophy to Maximize Impact and Influence – Find your voice. Finding your voice and discovering your perspective on things is the first step in making a personal impact on the world.

Today, I am sharing part two – Use your voice

Once you find your voice, you need to use it. Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone is agreeing on whatever is being discussed, and you’re thinking, “Wait a minute. Am I the only person here who thinks this is the wrong move?” Did you say something, or did you hold yourself back?

I’ve talked many times before about everyone having their own unique perspective. Based on your background and your lived experiences, you inherently see things differently than others. That perspective is valuable. So, share it! That’s why you were invited to the meeting. Build-up the courage and the conviction to speak up. Sharing your opinion may lead to conflict. But don’t let that stop you from leaning-in, because disagreements lead to innovation.

Of course, learning how to use your voice effectively is easier said than done. It takes many people outside of their comfort zone. So, here are 5 things to help you overcome the challenge:

  1. Give yourself the freedom to be yourself and the grace to fail
  2. Get over your fear of being yourself
  3. Silence the negativity in your head
  4. Get comfortable with being vulnerable and be willing to poke fun at yourself
  5. Let go of the expectations others have placed on you

And make sure you practice. Like anything, the more you use your voice, the more effective you’ll become. Start in small groups where you feel safe sharing your opinion. You’ll get more comfortable bringing your opinion to the table. And as you practice, your voice will grow stronger, your confidence will build, and your opinions will become clearer.