“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” This quote by Winston Churchill has always been a favorite of mine and has been a guiding light throughout my life. “Give” means to me not just in a charitable sense although that’s important too, but giving to others, to my family, to my job, and to myself. As I reflect on my journey (25 years at Microsoft), there are 5 “strategies” that I have learned that have enabled me to be successful throughout my life and career:
- Unleash Your Superpower(s)– finding your Superpower has become a bit of a trend in the business world, but before it was trendy, I was told by a previous manager that my superpower was the ability to take ambiguous concepts, simplify and turn them into meaningful action (so dealing with ambiguity is one of mine). Being collaborative is one of the hallmarks of my brand- which I talk about brand a little later. And finally, inspire- developing high performance teams is something I am very passionate about, mentoring others and I hope the legacy I leave for my children and for those I work with, is that I inspired them. Find your inner superhero and harness those superpowers to have an epic journey!
- Practice Mindfulness– Dr. Mike Gervais is a high-performance psychologist who works with the Seattle Seahawks. At the last summer Olympics, you could catch him on the sidelines of the volleyball tournaments cheering on Kerri Walsh who he coaches for mindfulness. There is a relationship between mindfulness and peak performance. Microsoft hired Dr. Mike for high performance culture training. One of the key takeaways I have put into my daily practice is a morning ritual of taking a deep breath (breathing is a big component of the training), have a moment of gratitude (Sheryl Sandberg says finding gratitude and appreciation is the key to resilience), and then I set my intention for the day. It’s really powerful. Mindfulness is also about eating well, drinking well, sleeping well (I have some work to do in this category!). Lastly, exercise. I’m obsessed with barre class and just recently took my 750th class at Pure Barre (took 3 years though to hit that milestone); I also have a passion for running and have completed 21 half-marathons. It takes a lot of discipline for me to make time for exercise, but it’s something I am selfish about and I schedule it like a meeting if I have to.
- Expand Your Network– the 3rd strategy is pretty self-explanatory. I’m sure you are well aware of the impact that having a robust network can have for you. I’ll just call out a couple of tips that have worked for me. Be deliberate when you are looking for the next career opportunity. Be sure you have a strong network both inside and outside of your company. I consider my girlfriends part of my network, cultivating those relationships is just as important to me. Definitely make sure to plan girls nights out on a regular basis. Leverage your network and don’t be afraid to use it to make a new contact, get the next job, etc.
- Build and Live your Brand Authentically– If you haven’t gone through the exercise of developing your brand statement, I highly recommend it. We have done workshops at our company to help employees develop their brand. Think about your attributes of strength and what you want to be known for. It’s helpful to ask others how they characterize you so you can check in to see if there is alignment. I have iterated on mine a few times. I think you will see some common themes. Mine is…Passionate and collaborative people leader dedicated to delivering consistently outstanding results, while investing in the success and enriching the lives of others. When you get mired in life and your endless to do list, do a quick check to ensure that you are living your brand authentically and following what’s important to you.
- Do Something Every Day that Makes you Happy– The 5th strategy is really such a small thing, but it’s incredibly important to keeping me grounded (and sane). Do something every day that makes you happy- or appreciate something positive about your day, every day. For me these little things can be as simple as enjoying a sunset, treating myself to a caramel sauce latte at Starbucks, feeling the warmth of sun on my face, giving a compliment to someone (you might have just made their day!), or sharing a moment to see how my daughters’ day went. Just remember to embrace these small things and find happiness in them!
Melissa’s recommended book: