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

Send a Card (part 2 – the power of a thank you)

One of the things I discuss at my Authentic Networking workshops is the power of a thank you – especially a hand written thank you after an information interview.

When someone takes their valuable time to sit down with you so you can learn from them, a timely thank you is a must; an email that day or the next is great. If you want to take your gratitude to the next level, send a written thank you. Here’s why…

rsz_thank_you_cardsThe person you met with will appreciate your email thank you, but it will be quickly forgotten. However, they will think of you again – warmly – when they receive your written thank you card. They may set that card on their desk where a colleague might inquire about it; then they get to tell their colleague that they helped you and feel good all over again. Maybe they will even tack your card on a bulletin board. The warm feelings and received gratitude will linger on, and they will be more likely to remember you and want to assist you in the future.

Here are two tips for your thank you card. The first is about the content. Be specific in your thank you. What did they say that really stuck with you or helped you? The second tip is about packaging. Consider getting some interesting thank you cards, perhaps ones designed by a local artist. Cool looking cards tend to hang around longer. (One thank you I received last year – pictured in the top left of the photo – was hand-colored; it’s still on my refrigerator.)

A hand written thank you takes a little extra effort, but the good feelings it creates for the giver and receiver are worth it! Who deserves a hand written thank you today?

Send a card! Thanks!

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Send a Card

I attended an event at the Memphis Botanic Gardens on Sunday, a beautiful spring day with the tulips and cherry trees in full bloom. Fitting, as the event was a discussion for a book called “A Second Blooming: Becoming the Women We Are Meant to Be.” Twenty women contributed essays to the book, and the four Memphis writers and editor were at the event to speak. All were inspiring and talked about tough transitions they’d made, but one had a reminder that I wanted to pass along.

Suzanne Henley spoke of times in her life when she struggled mentally and emotionally, which in our society isn’t accepted the same as a physical ailment and may even be seen as something shameful. During one of these periods, Suzanne said a friend sent her flowers. This simple act validated Suzanne and the difficult time she was having while adding a bright spot to her dark day. Her parting advice to the audience on Suneeyoreday was brief: “send a card.”

I have sent those cards. It takes a little effort (but not much!), and means the world to the receiver. I know, because I have been the recipient as well. Receiving a card from a friend during a difficult time is like getting a hug. It says, “I know this is tough, but you are not alone. I’m thinking of you, and I love you.” It is a simple act, but its kindness is magically magnified as that card sits on the side table or is stuck on the refrigerator door – a constant reminder of a friend’s encouragement and love.

Is someone you know struggling or in need of hearing that you care about them? Whose day could you be a bright spot in?

Please, send a card.

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

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The Light (part 2)

There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.
– Ernest Hemingway

We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.  
– misattributed to Ernest Hemingway

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
– Rumi

These quotes are among my favorites (even the one that Hemingway never wrote). I’m a big believer that where our cracks, or wounds, are is where the light gets in. When you are wounded, you learn things. You grow as you gain new insights and awareness about yourself: what you want more of in your life, what you don’t want in your life at all, how you contribute to situations, how you can do better next time, and just how strong you are. You also see how the people around you support you, and you are reminded of their love.

cracked bowlThese cracks and wounds are also where your light comes out. I believe that where your wound is, is where your gift is. That thing you came to give to others is something you are experiencing yourself. What’s most profound to you will be important to others – not to everybody, but essential to the right people.

Belonging is my top core value, the thing that is most important to me. I didn’t always feel like I belonged as a kid – or as an adult; I struggled with self-acceptance and not feeling accepted by others. Over time, that wound has also been a great source of joy for me. It has driven me to invest in my relationships with others; today I have deep friendships with wonderful people and more loving relationships with family. That wound has also led me to my work; as I help my clients to learn about themselves, accept themselves, and create more belonging in their own lives, my sense of belonging also increases.

Where are the cracks that allow the light to shine in for you? And how do you use that light as a gift in your life and others’?

Keep shining!

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


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Be a Light

There seems to be general agreement that 2016 was a rough year. Yes, there were blessings and accomplishments and laughter, too. But a rough year.

What was so heartening for me was how my clients and friends seemed mobilized by the tough experiences – each ready to make a difference in their own way. What’s the difference you are uniquely designed to make? What’s the thing that lights you up and allows you to shine your light on others?

be-a-lamp-rumiThis Rumi quote is one of my favorites: “Be a lamp or a lifeboat or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd.” What’s the thing you naturally do that is a light in other people’s lives? We often devalue our gifts and strengths, thinking that if it comes easy to us, it must be easy for everyone else. Not so! There is something that only you can contribute to the world – it may or may not be vocational, and it may or may not be what you think!

I’m privileged to work with incredible clients every day so that they can understand themselves and others better – and so they can use their gifts to be a lamp, a lifeboat, or a ladder. Creating understanding and acceptance is, I hope, the way in which I bring my light to the world.

What’s yours? If you don’t know, that’s ok – and not unusual. But please create some space for the question in 2017, because the world needs your light!

Shine on!

p.s. If you would like to learn more about yourself and your strengths (and are in the Memphis area), I am running a small career group beginning in late January. The deadline to register is this week, so let me know today if you have any questions. More information can be found here http://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group-jan-2017/

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

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Career Coaching Group Starts Late January in Memphis

Happy new year! I hope your holidays were terrific, that you’ve acknowledged all you accomplished in 2016, and that you are ready to make 2017 an exceptional year. If you want to be intentional about how you spend your energy and to take charge of your career, please consider whether career coaching could help you.

If you are in the Memphis area, I will be running a three month career coaching group beginning late January. The deadline to register is Tuesday, January 10. All the details can be found here: http://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group-jan-2017/

Please contact me today at jen@jenfrankcoaching.com or 901.308.0613 with questions, to schedule a conversation or to register. Let’s make 2017 the year you find your great work!



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“I’m a mess. I got drunk last night, and…”

That’s how one of my young clients, let’s call her Lilly, started our last session. I stayed open, but anticipated that I might need to self-manage regarding what came next. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised that the sentence ended with “…I decided to apply to Teach For America.”

Lilly and I discussed why she was so nervous about this decision, since teaching was an option she’d been considering. Was it because she now felt committed to a path? Was she worried it was the wrong choice? Was she afraid she would be a bad teacher? No, mostly she was worried that she wouldn’t be accepted to the program; several of her friends had taught with Teach For America (TFA), and she didn’t want to let them down.

We considered the worst case together, and Lilly realized her friends wouldn’t suddenly abandon her or like her any less if she didn’t get accepted to TFA. She quickly found her resourcefulness, saying that she would find a different teacher training program, if needed.

Lilly was also concerned whether this was a good decision or not, since it’s a big commitment. So we looked at the work we had tough-decisionsdone over the past couple months and saw that teaching was a great fit for her values, needs, strengths, skills, passions and the type of environment she likes. For example, ideally we want to be in our strengths 75% of the time at work. Lilly’s strengths are that she sees and appreciates differences in people; she is patient with challenging people; she is highly adaptable to new environments, situations and people; she is positive and optimistic; she is quick to smile and offer praise; and she is a curious explorer who loves to learn about new places, ideas and people. Sounds like someone who will be a terrific teacher!!

By the end of our session, Lilly’s fear had become excitement. She was solid in her decision and motivated to take the next step. If this sounds easy, it was only because we had already done all the work to figure out what’s important to Lilly, how she shows up, and what she does uniquely well. We were able to use that information as an objective filter to determine that teaching was a good choice for her. (And Lilly understands she can always make a different choice later.)

Imagine you got drunk last night and made a career decision to do the thing you really wanted to do, but were afraid to. What would it be?

Here’s to your right work!

p.s. Do you have enough information to know if your next career choice is a good fit for you? If you are in the Memphis area, I am running a small career group again in 2017 beginning in late January. More information can be found here http://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group-jan-2017/

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

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A grateful holiday love note

I spent the Thanksgiving holiday on the east coast, and spent one cold, windy day in New York City. While warming up in a crowded coffee shop, a woman at a nearby table asked me to watch her things while she went to pick up her coffee at the counter. I agreed. Once she was gone, the man sitting right next to her commented that, although he was closer, she had entrusted the task to me. Laughing, I said, “well, you do look a little shifty.” He and I chatted for a moment, and when the woman returned with her coffee, I assured her that the shifty guy hadn’t disturbed her things.

A half hour later as the gentleman was leaving, he stopped at my table. He said, “thank you for…” and then trailed off. “My snarky comments?,” I prompted. He said, “No, thank you for being open. People aren’t like that usually.” I told him i-love-memphisthat I lived in Memphis now, where people are like that. They make eye contact, wish you a good morning, and are likely to ask during a conversation, “how can I help you?” I’m very grateful that Memphis taught me this.

Throughout the week and on Thanksgiving, I was happy and proud to tell my friends and family that Memphis has been so welcoming to me, a transplant of nearly four years. I’ve been fortunate to make wonderful friends and build a thriving business. There is always something interesting going on in the city (usually ten things at once!) and the food and music can’t be beat.

If this doesn’t sound like the Memphis you know, I hope you’ll look a little harder. I’m very proud to call Memphis my home and be among the many people who want the very best for our incredible city.

What has your town taught you? What are you grateful to it for?

Thank you, Memphis!

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

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What are you grateful for today?

It’s November and Thanksgiving is around the corner, so it’s time to get your gratitude on!

This week a friend sent me the following challenge: write the 5 things you’re grateful for this morning, 5 fears you have this morning, and the 5 biggest things you’re thinking about today. The cool thing was that what I was grateful for (and made me feel good) had no overlap with my fears; so focusing on gratitude keeps me out of a feapiglet-graitutuderful place. The sad thing was that what I was grateful for had no overlap with what I was thinking about – with one exception: the leftover stew (my grandma’s recipe) that was in my fridge that I was grateful for, and I was thinking about lunch!

Gratitude remains the best practice I know for grounding ourselves in the present and shifting our attitudes. It can be a simple pause to say a silent thank you or a weekly journaling practice or a phone call to someone who deserves to hear how much you appreciate them. Or a quick text to a friend thanking them for inspiring a blog post.

Need even more thoughts on gratitude? Here are my blogs from the last two years:

What are you most grateful for? How can you remember to keep those thoughts in your mind today?

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving. I’m grateful for you, today and every day.

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

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Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone

I often work with my clients on the importance of cultivating a love of learning, taking a few risks, and getting outside of their comfort zone – keeping their possibilities open and their lives big. Since I like to walk my talk, I recently challenged myself to try something new: hula hooping. It sounded fun and like an appropriate risk since I had a reasonable chance of being embarrassed for an hour by both a lack of coordination and cardio capability. So I looked at the schedule to find the beginners class and put it in my calendar.

The day arrived for the class and I quickly checked the website, but the class was gone! They had moved it to a time I couldn’t attend. No matter, I thought, I would still use the time to challenge myself. So I glanced at the schedule for a yoga studio I haven’t been to before, and set out for a small adventure.

I thought I was attending a gentle yoga class, and things started off nicely enough. It was a different style than I was used to, but seemed all right. And then class just got plain hard. Really hard. I gave it a big effort and adapted the poses I simply couldn’t do or hold. While I actually liked a lot of the class, I can’t tell you how many times I said to myself during it, “And this is the gentle class?!”

Afterwards, while thinking about how sore I would be the next day, I looked at the schedule more closely because I wanted to read the class dcomfort-zoneescription. And I saw that I had read the schedule wrong. I didn’t attend a gentle class, but rather an advanced class that my friend later told me was referred to as “the power hour.” Oops.

So what did this expedition outside of my comfort zone teach me? Well, lots of things! Don’t expect every experiment to go perfectly. Although it was difficult at times, it only lasted 75 minutes and I survived just fine – in fact, I did pretty well and gained some confidence. The class also showed where I have some weaknesses I should work on. (Abdominals, anyone?) I also really liked the studio and plan to return, so my most important lesson is probably to read the schedule more carefully!

What’s something new you could challenge yourself with? Try to pick something that sounds fun or interesting to you. And don’t worry about doing it well – everyone can survive an hour or two of embarrassment. And the truth is, probably no one is looking at you anyway. They are all focused on themselves (and their own aching abs).

Keep pushing on that comfort zone!

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

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Are you really helping?

I have the great pleasure of working with many wonderful, caring clients who want to be helpful to the people around them. Often my clients’ friends, family and coworkers come to them and ask for advice. Sometimes my clients are a little too proactive though, stepping in to fix other people’s problems when their assistance hasn’t been requested.

There are downsides to this unsolicited “help.” First, the recipient may get frustrated; maybe they just wanted to vent and be listened to. Second, when we fix the problem, the other person doesn’t gain confidence like they would if they handled the issue themselves. Third, the other person will likely be more committed to a solution that they have come up with themselves, rather than one that you suggest.fb_img_1450493306875-1

So how can you help? Just being there in the moment and listening is probably the best thing you can do if the other person is really upset. Trying to come up with a solution from a negative or low energy place is hard – the person is unlikely to be able to think clearly or creatively.

But if the person does have an issue and needs a sounding board as they think through potential solutions, you can support them in accessing their own resourcefulness by asking some open-ended questions. Here are a few examples. Ideally, what outcome would you like? What has worked for you in the past? What does your intuition say? If you could only focus on one thing, what would it be?

And my favorite question of all? How can I support you?

Now that’s helpful!

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

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