I’ll post new bits of inspiration here a couple times each month. Expect quotes, links to videos, musings, recipes, and who knows what!

Your failures make you interesting

Before you launch into any big goals or new year’s resolutions, I hope you’ll do something a bit smaller and possibly more fun: fail.

Think about something you always wanted to try, and go do that. Do it imperfectly. Make an enormous mess. Fail really big. Take pictures of that dumpster fire. And then tell your friends, because now you have a great story. Funny how that works; it’s our failures that make us interesting.

Last fall I was meeting with my client Lara, and we were discussing her career goals. She mentioned some ideas that she felt were out of her reach like opening a stand at the farmers market. During our conversation she said wistfully, “I’ve always wanted to make bread.” As if bread was some sort of impossible dream! I challenged her to bake bread over the weekend and bring it to our next career coaching group meeting.

Pictured here is Lara’s dog who wouldn’t even give her first attempt at bread a little lick. Ok, so it failed to rise, and she basically made play-doh. But the second batch was bread! She brought it to our  group meeting, and we all tried it. And it was good! Some folks even had seconds.

The best part is that it wasn’t the success that made for a great story. It was the failure, the perseverance, the trying again, and then the success.

Nobody (except maybe you) thinks you should be a huge success at something new the first time you try it. So if you want to have any hope of hitting those resolutions or big, important goals in the future, you may want to go out and get used to failing and trying again.

What’s your, “I’ve always wanted to make bread?” That thing that sounds like a lot of fun to you and is entirely do-able, if you’d just give yourself some space to make a mess? Do that! And then show pictures of your initial fail to your friends.

Be interesting!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

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Christmas Presence

On Monday I tried to cram in a couple of holiday errands between appointments, stopping at The Mail Center to drop off some Christmas cards (no, I’m still not done) and mail two boxes of presents to the West coast. When I arrived, there was an older woman in line in front of me filling out a form. I exchanged pleasantries with the Owner, Mark, and asked if he thought I could get out of there in about 15 minutes. I hadn’t really given myself enough time before my next appointment, but Mark assured me he would do his best. Then the woman in front of me told him, “you can go ahead and help her first.”

As Mark took care of my boxes, I thanked the woman and we chatted; I found out that she has four grandchildren between 2 and 8 years old. We agreed those ages were great fun at the holidays. As we talked a bit more, she revealed that her husband had recently fallen and broken his hip and would spend Christmas in a rehab facility. It was obvious that would be hard on both of them.

If I hadn’t been forced to slow down for a few minutes and get present, she wouldn’t have shared that with me. Behind people’s joy (or automatic “I’m doing great”) there are often challenges and struggles. I hope that you’ll be gentle with yourself and the people around you during this busy season. When we are compassionate and give people the gift of our presence, sometimes they will talk about things that trouble them; it may lighten their load just a bit.

Wishing you and yours warm and merry holidays – and strength and support to deal with any challenges you face.

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching



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An exercise in gratitude

Recently I saw the quote “what if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you said thank you for today?” Wow. Well, I got really busy counting my blessings – and not my typical lazy way (e.g., my closest friends and family) – but rather a pretty thorough inventory of the immense goodness in my life.

I’m sure I’m repeating myself, but gratitude really is the best way I know to let go of my worries or complaints, ground myself in the present, and shift my attitude. (What’s the big deal? Your attitude affects your mood, and your mood affects your thoughts, and your thoughts lead to your actions, and your actions create your reality!)

If you like exercises, here’s one to get you focused on gratitude this holiday season. What would you list if you were to write the alphabet and think of one or more things, beginning with each letter, for which you are grateful? Just to give you an example, the last time I did this, B was for “Beth, birds, books, blessings, bedtime, and beef!” All things essential and frivolous that you are grateful for can be on your list; in fact, the weirder it is, the more it will make you smile when you read it at a later date.

If you’d like even more thoughts on gratitude, here are my blogs from the last four years:

I hope you have a lot to be grateful for today. Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving holiday!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

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Career Success Tip 4: trust

The last three posts were all tips for career success. To review, they were:
1) Know and develop yourself
2) Get outside your comfort zone
3) Network

If you do those three things consistently, then you’ll be able to do #4 more easily: trust.

Trust that your network will help you someday. Trust that the timing of things is as it should be. Trust that you don’t get the jobs you are not supposed to have. Yes, you might be disappointed for a minute, but that’s probably just your ego talking. (And, if you’re like me and don’t get that ego job with the Girl Scouts headquarters in New York City, it’s because you are supposed to become a coach, move to Memphis, and do work that matches your values and strengths!)

No matter where you are, trust that you are being prepared for what’s next. My MBA didn’t help me to start a successful business – but my fundraising career did. Fundraising skills were just what I needed to be a success on the business side of being a coach: I knew how to call on people and have a conversation to see if there’s a fit, be politely persistent, and not take a “no” personally.

We could call #4 relax instead of trust! You are not in charge of deciding whether you will get a job or what the timing will be. You can only control your actions. But if you know and develop yourself (1), get outside your comfort zone (2), and network (3) – then you’ve done what you can do and you can relax and trust (4) the right opportunity is on its way.

Where do you need to put in some effort so you can be in that trusting place? Is it time to develop your self-awareness or some new skills? Do you need practice failing or do some networking? 

And if you’ve done all that? Relax!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

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Career Success Tip 3: network

If you’ve been following along, career tip 1 was to know and develop yourself. Career tip 2 was to get outside your comfort zone. And for a lot of people, career tip 3 will be the same as career tip 2; tip 3 is to network!

A small minority of people are naturals at networking. They’re extroverts who think of  strangers as friends they haven’t met yet. These naturals are curious about everything and never run out of things to talk about. They are quick on their feet and always seem to know the right thing to say.

That’s not me. As I tell people when I teach authentic networking, when I go to an event, I have two goals: to show up and be awkward. If I show up, I hit my goals every time. The other thing I always tell folks is that networking is a skill; it gets easier and better with practice. Today I’m a pretty strong networker, because I had a career in fundraising as well as the pressure of starting a business to motivate me.

Working a room takes not only practice, but preparation. If you are going to an event, think about what you’d like to learn while you are there, and craft some questions in advance. Be able to tell people what you are doing now and what you are working towards next. Also be ready for when people ask how they can help you. Better yet, be ready to ask how you can help them!

But there’s more to networking than just working a room. In fact, the best networking tool there is is one-to-one: information interviews! Here are a couple blogs with a lot more information on how to do those. The first is all about why information interviews are great, and the second is an information interview how-to.

Remember, depending on the study you read, between 40% to 80% of people get jobs through networking. It doesn’t mean that someone will give you a job. It just means your resume will get read – and hopefully you’ll get an interview. Networking is simply a way to be more competitive as you find your right work.

Where could you show up with the intent of practicing your networking skills? Who would you like to meet? What do you want to learn more about?

Never stop networking!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

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Career Success Tip 2: get outside your comfort zone

In my last post, I talked about the first of four career tips: know and develop yourself. The second tip is to get outside your comfort zone.

Our comfort zones are always shrinking – so imperceptibly slowly that we often don’t notice. But to make sure that you are staying open to all of your options as well as identifying new ones, you are going to need to take a few risks. That discomfort you feel is natural, and it means you are growing! I’ve written about taking risks before here. (There are also related posts on confidence and courage and things that hold us back like perfectionism.)

Whenever I have a client who is afraid to take risks, we identify something they can have fun with and go fail at. (Bowling, anyone?) Failing is a skill, and we need to learn that we can deal with whatever comes our way. Because some day, there will be an exciting opportunity in front of you that you very much want – and you will be a lot more likely to go after it if you know in advance you can handle any outcome.

And Ladies, there is a real confidence gap between the genders. As girls we were rewarded for behaving and getting good grades, and it made a lot of us risk averse. At work, you need to share your ideas, ask for the salary you want, and apply for jobs that you may not be 100% qualified for. (Men usually do all of those things.) Don’t hold yourself back!

The people around you need you to bring your best self and use your gifts. Playing small doesn’t serve you or the world. What’s a reasonably fun risk you could take this week to practice failing (and being kind to yourself in the process)?

Remember, the real confidence killer isn’t failure; it’s inaction. So get out there, explore, and enjoy the discomfort of growing as you try something new!

So long, comfort zone!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

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Career Success Tip: know and develop yourself

My last post was about my lack of any kind of long-term plan. If you do have a career plan, that’s great! Just make sure it’s flexible, because most people will have 5 or more careers in a lifetime, and we want you to be able to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

For those of us without a plan, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to do anything with regards to our careers! We still have to take action to keep ourselves moving forward. In addition to my personal motto (“I show up”), I’ve also had a couple recent speaking gigs where I talked about four steps for career success – whether you have a plan or not.

The first step is to know and develop yourself. You are the leader of your life and career, which means you are in charge of your development. Self-awareness has been identified as key to your career success and has all sorts of benefits:

  • when you understand yourself, you can better understand others
  • when you understand others, your communications improve and conflicts decrease
  • when you know what’s important to you, you can make better decisions (and make decisions more easily)
  • when you know what you do well and what you want next and can articulate it, the people around you can help you move forward – and up!

So how do you want to develop next? What interests and excites you? Is it time for some new self-awareness? Do you need a mentor? Is there a gap in your skills that needs attention?

Know and develop yourself!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

p.p.s. A small career coaching group is starting in May in Memphis, and it’s all about personal and professional development (i.e., knowing and developing yourself). More details are here: http://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group-may-2018/

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Do you have a 5-year plan?

I confess, I don’t have a lot of long-term plans. I mean, I take care of big long-range things like saving for retirement, but I don’t have a 5-year plan. At any given point in my adult life, if I paused to look back at the previous 5 years, I couldn’t have predicted much of it!

For some folks, this may feel uncomfortable, not knowing what’s next. But the truth is, we don’t know what’s next. So instead of my letting my fear-based uncertainty gain power by pretending to be in control, my motto is “I show up.”

Showing up has worked for me. It has pushed me outside of my comfort zone and helped me to meet new folks and learn new things. I’ve moved around the country, had great relationships with wonderful people, experienced multiple careers – and landed in one that’s a terrific fit. All because I was willing. All because I showed up.

If I had tried to plan my life in a detailed way – and then been disciplined about sticking to the plan – I believe life would have been less rich, less fun, and less fulfilling. I believe the universe often has better plans for us than we have for ourselves – if we just keep showing up.

I was visiting with a friend recently. He’s never had much of a plan either; instead, he stays alert and open to new opportunities. And one of my clients lives by the creed of “How hard could it be?” Notice how all of these mottos provoke action and call for us to step up and try – even if we don’t know what the outcome will be.

If you don’t have a plan, that’s fine; just be sure to take care of the big stuff and have a motto that provokes action. What are the words that you live by that keep you moving forward?

Keep showing up!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

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Travel Lessons

Last fall, I took a lovely trip to Barcelona. Many months before the trip, the airbnb and plane tickets were booked. And that was about it for the planning. The travel guide I’d ordered stayed unread until I was sitting on the plane!

As I read, an outline of the week began to form. On a small piece of paper, each day was written down with one big thing to do: a neighborhood to visit, a site to see, an experience that only happens on a certain day of the week…and the trip took shape. There was still flexibility and lots of time to explore, but I had a general plan to work from.

While reading the Rick Steve’s travel book, I saw his philosophy. It included this: “Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something’s not to your liking, change your liking.” What great travel – and life – advice!

When I look back on the trip, I realize this is sort of how I run my life. As I get older, I plan a lot less and roll with life a lot more. I take care of the big, important things early. The details I wait on until I have to address them. Even then, I leave some wiggle room and am flexible in changing my liking. I’ll have to continue to work on being “fanatically positive and militantly optimistic,” but I do try to see the gift in every situation and be trusting about the future.

What’s your style and approach to life? Does it fit who you are, what you believe, and how you are evolving? Where do you need to practice militant optimism or change your liking? Are there lessons in your travels?

Time to book a trip!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

p.p.s. Last call for Memphians… A small career coaching group is starting on February 5th, and there’s a spot left. More details are here: http://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group-jan-2018/


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Career Coaching Group in Memphis to start late January 2018

Happy new year! If you want more direction and clarity around your career in 2018, consider whether coaching could help you. If you are in the Memphis area, I will be running a three month career coaching group beginning late January. All the details (and what past participants have said about the groups) can be found here: http://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group-jan-2018/

You’ll learn more about yourself, your unique strengths and gifts, and tell an effective story with your resume. You’ll also learn all of the networking skills and decision-making tools you need to move your career forward. (Don’t have a passion? Don’t sweat it; we’ll help you identify the things that interest and excite you!)

Please contact me today at jen@jenfrankcoaching.com or 901.308.0613 with questions, to schedule a conversation or to register. Let’s make 2018 the year you move closer to the work you love!

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