Is it natural talent – or is it practice?

Is it natural talent – or is it practice?

The Olympic athletes make their sports look easy. So easy that we sometimes think:
1. “that doesn’t look so hard; I could do that” OR
2. “that is impossible; you have to be born that way to be good at that”

If you’re a number 1, then I encourage you to go do the thing!

If you’re a number 2, then consider this…

People who are really strong at something may have some natural talent, but more often than not they get great at that thing because they practice. Over and over and over.

We see this with the Olympic athletes. They didn’t become the best in their events just because of natural talent. They ran, swam, rowed, sparred, flipped, balanced, studied and worked out. They showed up and practiced even on the days when they didn’t feel great.

There are a lot of everyday career skills that people often dismiss as being for other folks, too. I hear things like: ”presenting is for natural performers.” Or “networking is for extroverts.”

Well, I’m neither, but I can do both. Because I practiced.

I found the things I was passionate about and wanted to share, and I presented them. At first I was nervous, but now I (mostly) enjoy it. Do I wing it? Never! That’s not my style. What the pros taught me was that if you practice, it frees up your brain to stay in the moment and be in the conversation with your audience – instead of worrying about what you are going to say next. (I love that paradox; you have to practice in order to be natural!)

And working a room? That made this introvert all stinky sweaty. But I did it so often during my fundraising career, I found my style and got comfortable with it. I wouldn’t say I now enjoy working a room, but I can do it reasonably well. And without sweating.

There are so many career tasks we can get better at if we practice: interviewing, listening, giving feedback, etc. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t great immediately. Model the behavior of all those Olympic athletes and practice – even on the days when you’d rather not. Remember, you get out of it what you put into it.

What’s one thing that would benefit you and your career if you practiced it? (Queue the Olympic theme music…)

Happy practicing!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at

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Acclimating to the latest changes

Acclimating to the latest changes

In the early days of the pandemic lockdown, a lot of folks felt scared and just wanted life to go back to normal. Now as we return to offices and public spaces where people gather, a lot of folks are afraid of going back to normal. How can we reacclimate while managing our anxiety about this new round of changes?

I recently heard from a former client who wrote, “We just got the announcement that we will return to the office 2 days per week in mid-July. Have you heard any personal strategies that people have used to get acclimated to the transition?”

This client, let’s call her Mary, is an introvert and has actually enjoyed the “solitude and focus” that working remotely has provided. Mary’s plan is to go into the office one day a week for a month leading back to returning to two days per week. That sounds like a good plan – for Mary.

Every person is different. Some folks may be eager to be back in the office – especially the extroverts or those with a house full of kids! And while some have found it easier to work remotely, others may have struggled to work effectively from home.

I’ve also heard from clients that they are back in the office a couple days a week, but most of the meetings are still on Zoom so everyone can attend. It’s a bit weird to go into the office to attend Zoom meetings, however, seeing colleagues in person and having hallway conversations that move the work forward are pluses.

If you are returning to the office and feeling some anxiety, think about how you can take care of yourself during this latest transition. This article may have some tips you can use as you get back into – and even enjoy – your new work routine:

Understand that these latest changes may feel uncomfortable and be sure to take care of yourself. Think about what you need and how you’ll give that to yourself. And if you need to ask your boss or colleagues for help, do that.

Be gentle with yourself as you look for the bright spots in the return to normal.

Take care!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at

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Choices for the New Normal

Choices for the New Normal

If you had asked me a year ago if I had 3 to 4 hours a day to exercise (and extra to go to yoga class 3x a week), I would have said “hell, no!”

But then I broke my elbow. Rehab takes about a year of 3 to 4 hours a day of home exercise as well as PT 3x a week. I want the elbow (and wrist and shoulder) function back, so I do the rehab.

I see that I will have an opportunity this autumn, as PT and some of the exercises wind down, to create (finally!) a true daily yoga home practice. Now that I know what’s possible, I’ve lost my excuse of “I don’t have time.”

I think a lot of us may have experienced something similar during the pandemic.

Before the pandemic we might have said:
– I don’t have time for exercise/home-projects/gardening/self-care
– I can’t do my job effectively unless I’m in the office
– There aren’t enough hours to spend daily quality time with my kids/family
– Real quality time has to be in person
– I can’t slow down

The pandemic may have taught you that beliefs you had were inaccurate. What pre-pandemic beliefs do you want to avoid returning to? What new behavior do you want to try coming out of the pandemic? What’s worth making time for?

Remember, you are always at choice. You get to choose both your beliefs and your behavior. And you can choose new ones any time.

Think you don’t have time? Maybe you’re like me and you got the message loud and clear that we make time for the things that are most important to us. So make your choices, and then feel free to make new ones!

Choose wisely!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at

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Small Tweaks

Small Tweaks

After a year of the pandemic, some folks are still working from home – and are kind of over it. I love this piece written by a former client, Catherine, who not only expresses what a lot of us are feeling, but also invites us to get creative with small tweaks before making big changes. Enjoy! ~Jen


The chair had lost its fluff. I was sinking into the frame of the second hand dining room chair. Probably because I’d been sitting in that chair for forty plus hours a week since March 2020. When the pandemic started, I, like millions of people around the world, swapped an ergonomically designed office chair for a dining room chair.

Around the same time the pandemic drove people to start working from home en masse, I also started a new job. Because the job was new, it fed my inquisitive nature and desire to be challenged. Now, a year in, the job has lost some of its fluff. What was once a welcome challenge is now mundane. But I’m not ready to completely scrap what I have and start over. So instead I’ll make some tweaks. I’ll also keep doing the mundane – the bookkeeping, the data entry, and the scheduling – because those things need to be done and because I need a job. But I’ll also ask for some more of what I want – something that’s a challenge, something that involves solving a problem with more than one right answer. And maybe those small changes will be enough until I find the next right thing. 

I swapped my chair with the chair across the table. It’s still a second hand dining room chair, but it has a little more oomph than the one I’ve been using. For now, that small tweak has been enough. Enough to get me through to whatever is next. Whether that’s returning to the office, or giving in and spending some extra money to bring part of the office to me.  

Do you feel like your job has lost its fluff? Maybe a few tweaks will be enough to get you through to the next step. Ask for the type of tasks you want to be doing. Take a daily walking break. Pick up a hobby to feed the creativity your job lacks. Small changes can have an impact larger than expected. And if tweaks aren’t enough, you can always buy the office chair or scrap the job. 


I would love to claim that I came to these realizations on my own. In reality, it took Jen Frank’s career coaching group to help me understand that while some situations do call for a complete overhaul, less drastic changes such as advocating for yourself within your current role or making changes outside of work are also effective routes to job satisfaction. If you want to explore what’s next in your work life, consider joining one of Jen’s career coaching groups!

p.s. from Jen: As always, your comments are welcome on this post at

p.p.s. from Jen: The spring career coaching group is already underway, but if you want to be part of a future group see:

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