Originally given as a workshop presentation for Davis Women in Business (DWIB).
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When I was first approached by Zoe about hosting a workshop for Davis Women in Business (DWIB), I was… honestly, a little scared, and definitely not ready to give a speech to so many of our members. However, a quick peek in my journal would reveal a commitment I’ve made last year to say “YES!” to opportunities that align with my value and add to me as a person—because honestly, you’re never really “ready” to do anything.
Tony Robbins famously said, “Instead of focusing on what we’re not getting, focus on what we’re not giving”. This seemingly simple statement made a 180-degree shift in the way I think. It made me realize: not all pies are sliced equally. We may extend our best effort to slice them perfectly, but the fillings, like ourselves, are usually messy.
This is especially common when we’re applying to jobs. We know we’re good enough; we have the qualifications; we really do care about the company’s mission, but we never get a call back. In an attempt to feel better about ourselves, we blame the Applicant Tracking System for filtering our resumés out or the recruiter for not reading the cover letter that we poured our heart and soul into.
What if we stopped pushing the blame on others and started thinking about what we’re not giving them? How can we turn this story around to create situations for us to be the best versions of ourselves?
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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “creativity”?
Being “creative” is not entirely exclusive to artists. If you take a full spin on where you are currently standing, you’ll see that creativity surrounds us. You hold the power to create. But first, you have to tread the fine lines of creation and consumption carefully. This is no stranger to all of us—we consume massive amounts of content from Netflix to YouTube videos, blogs, podcasts, and more, for up to 10.5 hours per day. If you’re awake for 17 hours, that’s more than 50% of your day spent on consumption.
However, in contrast with what anti-media outlets will tell you, consumption doesn’t necessarily make you an unproductive person.
In fact, consumption is imperative to the creative process. It fuels the creation of ideas. But what’s a good ratio? The great builder of an active consumption bucket is the act of running things through before your inspiration slips. The trick? To consume consciously, healthily, and intentionally. Think about how you can apply it to your creative process: start a conversation with someone sitting next to you about the topic or run a marketing campaign based on the ideas you extracted from the experience.
2. The Good Ratio
Brad Stulberg, the co-author of Peak Performance suggests netting out 33/33/33 breakdown among consumption, thinking and connecting ideas, and creation. He emphasized the importance to look at these activities in a bigger picture. Instead of asking ourselves “how much have we created today?”, we allow ourselves to traverse the range of our creative journeys over a month or a year. Just like the art of making pies, there’ll always be periods where we allocate a huge slice of time to doing research on the best flavor pairings and pie-crusting techniques and using what remains to put them into practice, and ultimately, bake them to perfection.
3. Realize we have it in ourselves, too
We all have rolled your eyes when someone we aspire to be says, “If I can do it, you can, too”.
As much as I hate to admit—they are absolutely right. Having them speak to us through different mediums doesn’t mean they are any more or less than what we’re capable of.
Some of us prefer to remain behind the scenes, while a select few enjoy basking in the limelight. Some individuals give good financial insights, while others give better fashion advice. No matter what role we play, we harness our knowledge and power differently to provide certain values for others.
Now, what do you have to offer that you’re not giving yet?
4. Anticipate the fall
One of the lessons we drilled in our early stages of lives is that both failing and falling is embarrassing—especially in public. However, the fear of failing, or falling, for that matter, might just be the element that is holding us back from what we’re truly capable of. When we’re scared, we find ourselves procrastinating and weak to fight for what’s to come. As a result, we start believing that we simply do not have what it takes to get the job done.
A good way to tackle an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation is to, on the contrary, anticipate the fall. What’s the worst-case scenario?
Map out the possibilities, research for ways to tackle them, recite it in your head, and take a step through the door confidently. Even if you find yourself landing on shaky grounds, you will see that it actually isn’t that bad. This process helps solidify our sense of self-assurance that we find only within ourselves. It takes our suffocating need for external validation down a notch. By believing you have the skillset and tenacity to work on something otherwise alien to you, it primes you with the fact that you now know you can do whatever you set your mind to.
5. Be, Do, Have
To put it in a more tangible context, imagine a case study for yourself. In order to create the best possible opportunities, we sometimes have to act the part.
Look: What is a distinct feature about you? What do you want to be known for? You can start off by listing down the compliments you get most often.
Tone: How do you speak to people? What are the words you frequently use? Are you straightforward in your approach? Motherly? Or soft?
Passion: What do you usually look forward to working on when you’re not working?
Skills: What value do you provide for others? How do you make others feel?
Mantra: What’s the main message you’d like to convey through your presence? What’s your story?
Next, think of someone who can hold you accountable.
Nothing shrivels an effort to developing oneself more than a partner that doesn’t truly believe in what you’re working on. Instead, find someone you can trust to put you in your place when you need to. This is arguably the most beautiful part of the process. You can fall—freely—knowing that your failure doesn’t make your forthcoming success any lesser. With an extra pair of hands guiding you, it’ll only help you bounce back even stronger.
Through the effort of developing yourself professionally and personally, you’ll find that the more you show up, the less intimidated you will be. Your archive of work stand stronger, and more doors left ajar—or wide open—for you. Opportunities don’t often knock twice—and when they do, I hope you’ll find the courage in yourself to say “YES!” to them. Send particular care towards the areas you want to work on most and the values you seek to provide, because “you create opportunities by performing, not complaining,” says Muriel Siebert.
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If you ever need an accountability buddy, I’m always happy to add you on in my thread to keep you going by conducting weekly check-ins and chat about what we’re excited to create in the following weeks.