Get confident, stupid

I had a job interview this week at a place that I’ve been applying to for years that I really want to work at. On top of this, I haven’t had a formal job interview for about two years or so AND I’m dying to get out of working at the public, it was all so IMPORTANT I don’t mess this up.  Was I nervous? Yes. Could I probably have done better on some of my responses? Yes. But all in all do I think I presented myself decently? Also, yes.

Stuff like this is hard for me, I get so wrapped up in the thought of being judged by strangers I’ve never met. But we all do, don’t we? Then I get the fear of what happens if I don’t get this job, or what if I DO get it then I suck at it and nobody likes me. It’s like I’m screwing myself on both outcomes and the anxiety, oh the high anxiety waiting for the day and time of the sit down. Interviewing is part of the game if you want to get a job that you don’t create yourself. If we have to make a living out there in the world, then we just have to do it. I meditated a bit on it after I was done, attempting to get to the bottom of the fear and anxiety that surrounded it all. What scares me most about interviews, and even deeper down what scares me most about new situations and changes in life?

For me, it boils down to feeling inadequate or like I am perceived as foolish or stupid. Do I think that the four lovely ladies who panel interviewed me turned off the Skype cam and talked about me a little, absolutely you know they did, that’s part of the decision process. But, were they making fun of me, talking about how stupid I was and that I was in no way qualified for the job I was applying for? No way, I was just like anybody else they talked to that day. A long, tedious day of asking people the same old scripted questions. Worst case scenario is that they were saying that I was a complete idiot, even though the chances are narrow, if they were then at the end of the day who really cares?

Society sets us up to perceive failures, or rejections, or any kind of “imperfection” as a bad thing. Just recently I have stepped back and examined myself to realize that I am totally and utterly a perfectionist. I have been for so many years, and the only person that was really judging me all that time was actually me. Don’t mess this up, don’t fail, don’t look stupid, have perfect skin, teeth and hair and make sure that your outfit matches, and that you say the right things to not upset anybody. Get good grades, look good on paper, impress those classmates you run into that you haven’t seen in 10 years, do it all and don’t mess ANY of it up.

When did we get so serious about ourselves anyways? Lately, I’ve been trying to loosen my grip on perfectionism and just have fun with things. We all get caught up in our own heads and think, I’m so weird, but really most of us are very similar because we are these imperfect humans, made up of the same organic materials who function in very similar basic ways. We all think, breathe, eat, produce waste, have bodies, seek love, need shelter, and participate in intimate relationships with ourselves and others in many different forms.

With that being said, I follow this super cute YouTube channel called The School of Life. They have short shorts narrated by an amazing sounding English guy that sum up lots of important life lessons in under 5 minutes or so, accompanied by a cartoon. I have no idea how I stumbled across it, but I have been watching all sorts of them before I go to bed at night. Last night I came across this one called: How to be Confident, which I will post below. It’s short, I think you will laugh if you watch it, and you may even become addicted to the channel like I am.

 

So yeah, basically that’s it. People are idiots, I’m an idiot, you’re an idiot, and so are all the other people in the room with you right now. We are all in this ridiculous boat together, but at the end of the day are the ones that give concepts of appearing foolish a good or bad connotation, so if you think of it as not being a bad thing and just accept it, it’s easier to deal with. Some of the best moments in my life have happened because I gave up the fear of looking stupid and just did what I wanted to do. Those are the moments that have moved me forward, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. We forget as adults too we need to play, and play requires imagination, creativity and the ability to be silly.

Another good thing about the video is I found a new book to read! I got it here at the U, but for those of you who like to e-read and want the book;

In Praise of Folly by Erasumus can be found for free HERE.

Courtesy of public domain and the good people at project Gutenberg. Read what somebody had to say about the foolishness of human life in Europe in the 1500’s, it’s probably insightful and applicable to the same aspects today.

If you are looking for a more contemporary non-fiction style read on the subject of embracing your imperfections, here’s a great one, it’s called:

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are by Brene Brown.

Find the Goodreads reviews HERE

Brown is a shame researcher who has written multiple books on the subjects of shame, vulnerability and imperfection. She is also pretty well known for her TED talks, which I have also seen a few here and there. She’s worth checking out, I read the book many years ago, but it sticks with me today, and I often recommend it to patrons that are looking for self-helpy kinds of things. So if that’s NOT your bag, maybe dip your toes in by watching one of her TED talks.

And I know, if you have been following for a while I feel like I talk about failing a lot. But, it may just be a common theme to take into consideration, sometimes in life we just fail and fail and fail, until one day we don’t. And if you think haven’t failed yet in life, then do something off Pinterest. Get an idea of how the rest of us feel from time to time. In parting, here’s my ultimate favorite Pinterest fail, I laugh hysterically every because mine wouldn’t even look at good as the fail ones.

cookie-monster-fail

Image obtained from: https://iowameetnyc.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/pinterest-fails/

 

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Misery? We got an index for that…

After having a particularly trying couple of weeks, I decided that I needed to brush up on my data searching skills. Lame? Maybe…But insightful? Always… I never fail to learn something new and random when browsing data and statistics. Not everything in this world is collected and measured by an institution that can be considered “reliable”, but there is some pretty strange stuff out there that is collected. Institutions collect data that they feel is important to them in some ways, and many of the big places like the CDC, DLS and Census can provide a pretty interesting picture of our history in many different aspects of the human realm. Seeing as I’m grumpy and all, I came across something that caught my eye. Something called, ironically enough, The Misery Index.

Misery index pic

Data Planet provided information about the United States Misery Index number from 1947-2017, and surprisingly it looks like “misery” peaked sometime near 1981. I wasn’t sure what these numbers even mean though. What does a misery index score of 5 mean? Where did they get this information from?

Here’s the background from Data Planet:

Reports the Misery Index, a calculated measure of economic health based on the inflation rate and the unemployment rate. The Misery Index was created originally by economist Arthur Okun in the 1960s as the Economic Discomfort Index. Ronald Reagan is attributed to its renaming. The index is a calculated measure of economic health of a nation that sums the inflation rate and the unemployment rate. Data-Planet utilizes Bureau of Labor Statistics data to calculate the statistics presented here. (Data-Planet, 2017).

Basically you add the unemployment rate to the inflation rate and there is your index number. When I look at the numbers, I’m kind of surprised that the recession of 2007 didn’t match the misery index numbers of the early 80’s. Looks like that one was worse than the one that I had experienced. I hear a lot about these things being cyclical, markets, money, inflation, etc. I’m not very well studied in the area of economics, but it’s important historically to understand the basic premise for why these things happen, so we have a better chance of avoiding or preparing for it.I guess the Misery Index only deals with “financial” misery, which I suppose IS the overall cause of misery for many of us out there, even though we try to remember that money isn’t everything most people I know struggle with it, myself included.

Now that I’ve depressed you with talk of the financial struggles, recession, and overall misery, here’s a fun fact… 55-64 year olds in the US appear to be taking better care of their natural teeth in in recent years. In 2001 the % of 55-64 year olds wearing dentures was 15.8%, by 2010 that percentage decreased to 10.5 %. That’s more than a 5% decrease! What great news, and what a time to be alive with all this modern dentistry.

Dentures

In other things that are awesome in the US it appears that we have done a good job in nearly eradicating the Sexually Transmitted Disease Chancroid, which peaked at 5,000 cases a year in 1987 then shrank substantially sometime in the early 2000’s clocking only 25 cases in 2008. I don’t even think we learned about this one in school, I’ve never heard of it. (Not that I’m an expert in STD’s or anything but…)  This may be another one for another day, but if you are interested in what the hell Chancroid is take a peek here:

Chancroid Fast Facts- CDC

Chancriod

 

 

Data-Planet (2017-05-06). Misery Index: Misery Index, 01/1948 – 04/2017.Data-Planet™ Statistical Datasets by Conquest Systems, Inc. [Data-file]. Dataset-ID:077-003-001

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013-01-15). Dentures: Currently Wearing Dentures | Age: 55-64 years | Race/Ethnicity: All | Gender: All Genders, 2001 – 2010. Data-Planet™ Statistical Datasets by Conquest Systems, Inc. [Data-file]. Dataset-ID: 005-044-001

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008-10-18). Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Rates: STD Count | Gender: All Genders | Standard Name*: Chancroid, 1984  – 2008.Data-Planet™ Statistical Datasets by Conquest Systems, Inc. [Data-file]. Dataset-ID:005-020-001

Patron Muses

There are times when I feel a bit lost, or bored, or just lacking some sort of hope or direction.

When this happens, I often like to play this game with library patrons (I use them because they are the most random and know the least about me personally), but the same can be done with anybody really in your everyday life. Ask for a message, some encouragement, some direction, and wait for it.

I often find these “messages” in situations that entail something that I normally wouldn’t do or in a place where I go out of my way to be especially kind to somebody. I have 3 such occasions this week after thinking over the weekend that I needed some sort of “shove” in a direction or a reminder of something

One: An older man comes into the public often and gets study rooms. I am usually salty with him a bit because he is annoying and weird. But, Monday I moved his room around for him, changed his name on the paper because he said it was spelled wrong, and talked with him about his ex-wife a bit. When our conversation ended he looked at me and said, “You’ve been such a good girl, this is for you.” –yes I know that sounds a bit creepy and I didn’t agree with being addressed as if I was a dog, but the oddness of the remark made me realize this was my first thing to pay attention to- He reaches in his bag and pulls out a fortune cookie from panda express. I waited until later and opened it in tech where I didn’t eat the cookie but found this fortune:

IMG_1393 - Copy

 

I’m not crazy and I know that fortune cookies are so generic in nature and only say about 5 things, but seeing this just reminded me that I am on the right path. Today is not forever, and things will change for me, as much as there is frustration today, life is a turning wheel, and tomorrow can be success and happiness. Keep at it me, keep at it.

 

Two: Yesterday at the U a lady who often comes in approached me and told me that her headphones weren’t working. I went over to the computer, messed with the volume and tried a different computer. Turns out her headphones were shot, and I told her I could check her out a pair with her ID. She then told me that she’s not a student so I let her know I couldn’t do that without an ID. I could have just been like, sorry, but I felt like helping her so I went to the lost and found, got a clean looking pair of cheapie ear buds, cleaned them off for her, and told her that she could borrow them for the time being. She was so grateful and looked at me and said: “You know it’s all about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right people.” I smiled and walked away, but the message stuck with me.

Sometimes it is just that random. Some act of magic that can happen when these things line up and you can’t really force it, just try to notice when it does and capitalize on the possibilities that con come of it. Most magic moments, I think, are accidental in nature, and come from mixing the right amount of place, time and people.

 

Three: A month or so ago I had one of those seemingly random interactions when a person sits with me for a long while and talks with me about life’s purpose and our passions, and all that fun stuff. This particular person was somebody applying to be a professor here, and she had just uprooted her life to do so based upon some signs she had received. When we first met she was just checking out the University while trying to make the move up here from San Diego. She was inspiring, and intelligent, and just all around great to talk to. We ended on a hug and kept loosely in touch with emails. When I got into work yesterday she had stopped by and left me a nice note with her phone number:

IMG_1394 - Copy

 

 

I did smile, and I called her, and we have plans to go on a walk next week. I’m going to be all ears to what she has to tell me, because it’s what I asked for, after all.

Listen and Sell

It’s summer time here at the U, so we have some time to breathe, and to enjoy the laid back atmosphere. This also means my schedule shifts, and no more Sundays until September.  I like having the Sundays off because it’s more aligned with normal people, but also because I get to brunch again with real humans at a place, not just making a large late breakfast and drinking champagne on a Wednesday by myself at home. I’ve been ignoring my roulette, and to some degree my self-appointed blogging duties for a while due to other projects (more on that coming soon). But that means I can just shift my roulette over to Friday and keep on it.

Today I chose a random book from our book sale here at the U. Sometimes professors or other people affiliated with the University will make large donations, and every now and then there are multiple copies of the same book. I looked over at the sale shelf and saw about 40 copies of a new book, so I had to go and see what it was all about.

The book for this week is called:

Masters of Sales: Secrets from Top Sales Professionals That Will Transform You into a World Class Salesperson by Ivan Misner and Don Morgan.

IMG_1392 - Copy

I flipped through the book and noticed that each little section is written by different folks from the profession sharing lessons and advice, etc. I opened up randomly to this excerpt:

Earning the Right to Be Heard by Stuart Mitchell

Two of the strongest criticisms about salespeople are:

  1. They are only interested in selling me something
  2. They don’t really care about me

By contrast, I listen to my prospects and clients and win national sales awards year after year, while consistently doubling my sales targets. My claim to fame is that I actively listen to my prospects and clients. “Active listening” is like a bank account. The more active listening deposits you make, the more sales withdrawals you get. It works this way. When you listen to your prospects – AND THEY KNOW IT- they will, in return, listen to what you have to say about your product. This leads to more sales.  (Misner & Morgan, 2007, p.103)

I’ve always had a tough relationship with sales people, I always assume they are up to no good. I often avoid them when I see them approaching me at a mall, or try my very best to never have to change phone plans, or bank accounts or whatever.  I usually tell them what I need, but they don’t really help me with that. Often times I end in programs or plans that are more likely to help them hit their “numbers” while putting me in a less than ideal situation. Maybe I’m too much of a pushover; maybe I just give everybody the benefit of the doubt when I shouldn’t. I don’t know but me and the idea of sales have just never mixed. This isn’t a blanket statement; there are good sales people out there. I worked in real estate forever ago, and in the many loan officers I met there were actually a couple of decent ones, they were good at what they did, and looked out for their clients. I don’t know if the field has changed much, but these good seeds were pretty few and far between.  But what makes a salesperson “good”?  In business they usually see your numbers, not your client satisfaction, which may be where the trouble comes about. I wonder how much the world would change if instead of money/revenue/numbers/ products sold companies actually paid attention to customer satisfaction as the rating for sales people and made this the gauge for if they kept their jobs or got bonuses. How well people were treated by salespeople and companies in general would definitely change, for the better.

There will also be times in your life when you have to “sell” yourself. As much as this makes me cringe it’s true, there’s job interviews, writing resumes and cover letters, online dating, even friendship s sometimes begin with trying to convince somebody that you are indeed cool enough to hang out with. So maybe let’s take deeper look into this “active listening” and see what it’s really about and how it can be used to benefit a situation.

 

Here is one definition of it:

 

Active Listening: An approach to interpersonal communication that requires sensitivity and open-mindedness on the part of the listener and a willingness to share information and opinions on the part of the speaker. Listening actively allows the one who is hearing to comprehend the underlying message beneath the content of the words voiced, to evaluate fairly the speaker, and to reconsider previously held attitudes. Being heard in a nonjudgmental manner gives the speaker the confidence for self-expression without fear of criticism or intimidation and a sense that what he or she has to say is of value. Active listening has been used successfully in the workplace and in other social settings, as well as in health and mental health practice, to bring about changes for the better in both the listener and the speaker. Learning the art of active listening takes practice. (Sullivan, 2009)

 

So basically, it’s allowing the person speaking to say what they need to say without judgment in an open minded setting. One of the interesting parts of this definition it says active listening allows the listener to find the underlying message in the words of the speaker.  When I hear underlying I think of reading between the lines, so it feels to me like a way to decipher something and get a meaning that may lie deeper than the surface.  Maybe somebody says “I want dessert, and I really haven’t had ice cream in so long” you could actively listen and get that person some ice cream. Even though they didn’t say, “hey I want ice cream, can you get me some?” This allows you to understand what they are trying to get across on a deeper level. That may be a really bad example, but I kind of want ice cream right now so, sorry, but you get the point. I could see how this could be useful in many aspects of life, business, friendships, and most definitely romantic relationships.

 

I meet with a group of women each month, where we practice active listening with one another, and the way she describes it is like the speaker is a rock being dropped into the water. Her words are like ripples in the pond. Let her say her truth, and sit silently, absorb it, don’t respond to it or say, “yes I agree” or “me too” because that lessens the value of the words being said, also, if you are busy trying to formulate a response then you aren’t really listening. You lose what the person is saying because you are somewhere else in your own head formulating a comment. Once the ripples are gone, a few moments of silence, and another woman can start in. I don’t practice this enough to say that its life changing, but I should more often. As the definition says it takes practice. As much as I don’t like sales people I’ve also never liked to listen to others so this post is all about those hard things. I do feel the excerpt is pitchy and  sounds like it’s written by a salesperson, there is much value to what is being said there. I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest of this book, but if you are interested, consult your local library. Or, just come here we have like 40 copies for .50 cents each.

 

 

Misner, I. & Morgan, D. (2007). Masters of Sales: secrets from top sales professionals that will transform you into a world class sales person. New York; Entrepreneur Press.

 

Sullivan, L. E. (2009). Active listening. In The SAGE glossary of the social and behavioral sciences (Vol. 3, pp. 6-6). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781412972024.n33