Have you heard that saying that “Expectations are resentments in the making”? (Sorry English majors, I have problems with where to put quotations marks). I wanted to make sure my expectations were realistic as I traveled up the highway from NJ to NY for the Women at Woodstock retreat.
Winning the Vibrant Nation contest had been a gift I sorely needed, that I hadn’t dare dream about. I had read about the WAW retreat and wished….but knew it was “not in the budget”.
What I wanted out of my time at WAW was to take stock of where my life is today, and explore where I wanted to go in the next chapter. As I heard that really annoying GPS voice say “Recalculating” for the twentieth time (I’m just pulling off to use the bathroom for God’s sake…calm yourself!”), I did make the connection that this annoying word was a good synonym for what I wanted to accomplish at the retreat.
When I learned I had won (about a week before the retreat) I didn’t know if I could get the time off of work, re-plan the family weekend plans, and get a guiltless-go-ahead from the honey-do. Once all systems were go, my overdrive kicked in and informed me to read all of the retreat’s speaker’s bios, books and websites and become an expert on the WAW topics BEFORE I arrived.
Recalculating….I took a deep breath and said to my hamster brain: Relax. Pack. Go. Take the pressure off. Sit quietly. Breathe deeply. Ask your Higher Power for guidance. The answers will come.
To fill you in a bit, after 20+ years in Big Pharma, I tried my hand as a solopreneur. For eight years.
You know those acrylic contraptions have slots for multiple business cards? I could fill one of those babies up with all the businesses I tried myself. It was a painful period. I alienated and lost friends, went through thousands of dollars, and never “found my niche.” Although I had some super clients and sporadic income, when it was time for our daughter to go to college my honey-do said “It’s time to get a job.”
With tail between the legs, and after many years as a business women, I returned to the profession I had started in…nursing. Back when I got downsized from Ciba Geigy (RIP) I had decided I was done with the corporate bullshit and went back and got my School Nurse Certification and had my second child. I was looking for a job when a colleague from Ciba called and told me about a Contract Sales Company called PDI that was hiring, he was a manager on the contract and would I come work for him. I did, got promoted to management, and stayed another six years until I was downsized from there. (It is easier the second time).
Therefore, when honey-do said get a job, I walked into a school, and got a job. On one hand, I felt ashamed I didn’t create a successful business and embarrassed at the starting salary. On the other hand, I was grateful to get a job (yes, the hours are great) and did realize how many people in my situation would be ecstatic to walk into a school and get a full-time job.
I worked in a white-bread middle school and never really fit in. There was a gang of teachers that had been there forever and didn’t like anyone coming in and trying to change the way they did things. I am a process-improvement junkie and didn’t realize I was not supposed to try to make improvements to any processes. I often felt like the outside of the school should have a banner that read “We don’t do it that way here.” I often thought…how sad is this..this is a SCHOOL and there is such resistance to change. They cut my hours when the state cut their budgets and I left. I subbed for awhile and ended up at a start-up charter school, where I have spent the last few years.
Charter schools are cool. At least the one I work at is. They have the feel of a start-up business, and everyone wears many hats. They welcomed my process-improvement ideas and at this point I am in charge of Professional Development and get to help write grants and do all sorts of stuff that would be UNHEARD of in other establishments where the nurse has one role.
Getting back to WAW…I still have the entrepreneurial itch, and my new idea is to combine what I loved to do the most as a sales manager (which was to help people find and work in their sweet spots and contribute to their team in these areas that they shine) and bring it into the schools. My favorite tools to use where the Gallup books (that eventually lead to the Strengthfinders series) and The Platinum Rule (what I fondly call Meyers Briggs for Dummies).
For the last two years, I have presented a little something I whipped up and called “Bringing the Best of Business Into the Schools”; the staff has really enjoyed hearing about these tools and is interested in learning more. My dream would be to train the teachers on a strengths-based model, have the students take the assessment, and use these parameters to evaluate the students not only on their grades and behavior (both which tend to be not-so-positive in under-served, minority populations in urban areas), but on their strengths. Let’s give these wonderful, beautiful spirits something to be proud of, a reason to succeed, a motivation to strive for goals that seem unreachable.
Forgive me for my verbosity to get to this point. I didn’t know how to explain my expectations without giving you the background story. If I had more time, I would have written a shorter post. (Obviously, this is not an original thought).
Here at WAW, I do not want to wait to do it perfectly. I want to share my vision and hear what other’s think. The good, the bad, the ugly. I don’t want to wait until I’m satisfied with the pitch, or everyone likes it, or I am sure it will succeed. I want to go for it.
Anyone relate? Tired of caring what other’s think, or feeling like a failure when you’ve taken the risk and tried? How do you feel about having realistic expectations, putting yourself out there, and recalculating?