Posted by: maureen in wonder, reassurance, practice on
Jan 20, 2013
Okay. I admit it. I watched Oprah’s interview with Lance Armstrong.
For all of the first night and much of the second I was a little--oh, I don’t know--bored. Maybe because Lance struck me as measured. It was almost as if he flowcharted his answers as he gave them, tweaking them here for one effect and there for another.
Then he talked about explaining himself to his kids, suggesting they not defend him anymore. That part got to me. Not because of Lance. Because of the kids.
I tried to imagine how it would feel to believe your dad is a hero--and then, seemingly overnight, to be asked to absorb the opposite.
What would that be like?
I have no idea. I’m lucky that way, and I’ve never taken it for granted.
When I talked with Katie about this she offered the reassurance I--for once--didn’t need. I smiled and told her, “Yeah, it stings for two days when I think I’ve bored you for five minutes.”
I don’t know where I got the idea it’s a sin to be boring, but it’s probably an okay thing to obsess about as a radio talk show host.
As a mom, not so much.
Katie and I are fond of reminding each other that even if I could be perfect--which no one can--I wouldn’t be, because part of being a good mom is giving her practice in dealing with frustration.
We both wonder why I’m so hard on myself when I give her just the teeniest, tiniest bit of that practice--when I bore her for three whole sentences.
I’m working on that. And I’m trying not to be too hard on myself while I do!
When I’m writing a book you could set a clock to it. How regularly the doubts creep in, and how systematically I dispose of them.
I write however many words I set out to that day. I go to bed thinking, “What a pile of crap.” I wake up and read them over and think, “Not bad.” And chances are they make it into the book without so much as a comma changed.
It happens on the show, too. Instead of enjoying a high school production of Footloose
Saturday night--Katie was providing technical assistance on that one--I abandoned my usual practice of enjoying the moment and instead beat myself up for how lame I’d been interviewing Alex Lickerman
earlier that day.
This afternoon I listened to every word of our conversation and I don’t think I’d change one. Maybe a syllable. That’s how much fun we’d had, and that’s how relatively flawless the execution was.
My default assessment of the latest is always some variation on, “You suck.” Why?
Alex’s new book, The Undefeated Mind
, reads like an owner’s manual for your mind. I haven’t finished it yet, so I don’t know if it explains how my brain works (or rather, works against me) where this is concerned.
Meanwhile know who made me feel better about it? John Tesh
. Yeah, John Tesh!
Some reflections on that
conversation later this week.
Posted by: maureen in preparation, practice, poise on
Apr 22, 2012
Sell me this pen. What’s the meaning of life? Tell me how you’d get an elephant into a refrigerator.
Sure, you could devote part of your preparation for that job interview dreaming up answers to questions like these. But why? Recruiter Tony Beshara
says the odds are slight you’ll have to field even one of them. And if you do, the person asking is probably much more interested in your poise than your answer.
The secret to a job interview--and maybe to life--isn’t so much knowing what to do as it is not freaking out when you don’t.
Tony hopes you’ll practice telling stories about how capably you solved another employer’s problems--and how eager you are to put that experience to work again.
Posted by: maureen in practice, offer, appreciation on
Feb 15, 2012
Do you think it’s a good practice to interview for a job you don’t want? You know, to practice interviewing?
Some career consultants think that’s fine. I’m not one of them. A career consultant, that is. But I also don’t think it’s okay to waste someone’s time. Practice on your own time.
If during the interview you discover the position isn’t what you had in mind after all, you’ll want to turn it down graciously--once you get an offer, that is. A note of appreciation is always in order, especially if it’s by snail mail. It’s the right thing to do, but it’s also pragmatic. Things change. The person who brought you in to talk about the less-than-ideal situation might change jobs herself, and be hiring for your dream position the next time you’re looking.
I was going to offer a suggestion for what to do if you don’t get the job you’ve interviewed for and want desperately, but I realized I already had. Write that note.
I’ve had a lot of practice writing thank-you notes after losing out on a job. I’m a writer! I rarely get the gig. But when people take the time to consider my work, they get a heartfelt letter. If they offer me suggestions for how to improve that work, they get a longer heartfelt letter--and probably some gourmet cookies.
As for why it stings not to get an offer for a job you don’t want, I’m afraid I can’t help--but I can relate. How many times have you watched a child who’s completely lost interest in a toy suddenly decide it’s her favorite only because some other kid wants it? It’s a cliché, how often someone dumps a boyfriend or girlfriend only to be upset when that person rebounds a little too quickly for the dumper’s taste.
I guess you just have to remind yourself this isn’t something you wanted. Then go get what you do want. And don’t delay. In the words of one of my favorite bosses: “Ready, fire, aim.”
Posted by: maureen in practice, decision, choice on
Oct 31, 2011
How much time do you spend playing games? I don’t mean corporate games. I mean fun games. And how do you justify those?
I’m partial to Tetris and Scrabble. Tetris is great practice for not freaking out. Scrabble, for being adventurous--and calculating--with word choice.
Tetris reminds me that as life--I mean, the game--goes along, making any decision becomes more important than making the right decision. Time is short. Don’t be waffling. You can always correct your course, if you don’t freak out.
Scrabble reminds me I want to win, but not if the person I’m playing loses. I go for the kill with every turn, but I love it when the outcome is uncertain until the big “Game Over” sign flashes on the screen.
It doesn’t really matter what cards--er, tiles and letters--you’re dealt. Have fun, learn a lot, better your best.
Most importantly, hope for an uncertain outcome. Unless you love a boring story.
Posted by: maureen in talent, practice, play on
May 31, 2011
A violin student is trying to perfect a short but difficult passage in a song. Should she play the passage twenty times? Or play it perfectly--with zero mistakes--until she does that five times in a row?
A basketball team keeps losing games because of missed free throws. Should each player shoot fifty free throws at the end of a practice? Or should the team practice free throws during a scrimmage--so each player has to shoot them while exhausted, under pressure? The Talent Code
author Daniel Coyle ponders these questions--and gives you the answers--in his latest post
about measuring the effectiveness of practice.
You want to get better, right? That’s why you’re practicing. So why not get better at that
Posted by: maureen in success, spirit, practice on
Apr 19, 2011
Ever listened to a motivational speaker and had the following reaction? “Easy for you
May I suggest an alternative?
“Easy for you to say
. But maybe it wasn’t so easy to do
Think of someone you admire. Who was she before she became well-known? Probably someone who worked really hard and took a lot of risks and decided to share what she’s learned.
I’ve found a kindred spirit in John Strelecky
. He’s the author of The Why Café
and agrees you learn so much about people by their reaction to someone who’s making it big. “I think you can be thankful,” John says. “You can be thankful for the proof that success is possible.”
Here, here. The people who love their lives, who are up the road a ways and are willing to give you directions, are mapmakers. Why would you resent them?
Maybe it’s because
someone practices that he’s…a preacher!
Posted by: maureen in practice on
Dec 26, 2010
Long before Twitter, long before you had to find a way to be interesting in 140 characters or fewer, there were teenagers.
I got me a good one, I know. But if I say something lame, or unnecessary (which is probably redundant and...unnecessary!), I've lost her.
As well I should.
Great practice for the talk show, eh?
Posted by: maureen in talent, practice, power on
Aug 29, 2010
Want to get better at tennis? The violin? A foreign language? Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code, says the way to develop talent is with what he calls deep practice.
Break things down. Isolate the movements. Do each one perfectly. Repeat. Ten thousand times!
It won’t guarantee you’ll reach the finals at Wimbledon, but it will help rewire your brain and make you a whole lot better than someone who isn’t willing to put in that much effort. Daniel says repetition has gotten a bad rap since the beginning of times tables. But repetition is power, he adds, if you concentrate on each rep.
Intense practice, endless repetition. The not-so-secret formula to many a successful--and yes, fun-filled--career.
Now granted, there are only so many things you’ll have the passion--or the time--to master. But that’s okay, too. Daniel thinks there’s a lot to be said for enjoying things you suck at. More in my next post.
Posted by: maureen in practice, interview, experience on
Feb 16, 2010
Write an effective resume. Sparkle in a job interview. Be a great employee. Career consultant Vicki Brackett thinks the fastest route to all three is from the perspective of the employer.
“Your resume should make it clear how you’ve made money, saved money, or minimized risk for other employers,” she says. “That’s what makes you attractive to the next one.”
To ace an interview, Vicki suggests you practice telling stories about (you guessed it) making money, saving money, or minimizing risk. Practice in front of a mirror or--even better--in front of a friend. You’ll feel ridiculous. I promise! But you won’t be sorry. You’ll sound more natural, and feel more relaxed, once you’re in front of the hiring manager. Remember how stressful the experience is for that person, too--which will make it easier to present yourself as the solution to a problem. That’s why you’re needed. You don’t get hired to decorate the place. You get hired to help.
After you are, make sure you know what your boss calls success on the job. Keep that in mind, check in often, and make the world a better place.