When Lent Becomes a Lifestyle

What a wonderful time of the year. The sun is out; temperatures are increasing; flowers are blooming; and He is risen. It truly is the Easter Season. A season of new beginnings. So why did I feel so melancholy on Easter Sunday?

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For the first time in my life, as Easter came and went this year, I found myself feeling different. I felt somewhat sad. I felt like something was ending. Easter is supposed to be a new beginning, and I was feeling the opposite. It wasn’t until my wife and I were listening to Matthew Kelly’s final message from his wonderful “Best Lent Ever” program that I began to really pinpoint the feelings I was having.

You see, for the first time in my life (noticing a pattern yet), I truly abstained from something that had normally been a staple in my life. I made the decision to “give up” alcohol for Lent. I’ve always been a social drinker. Drinking is something that normally makes me feel good. Drinking usually makes me feel relaxed and confident. But, as I get older and try to live my life more intentionally, it wasn’t making me feel those things. It really wasn’t making me “feel” anything at all.

Living life more intentionally for me had meant eating better, working out more and cutting back on drinking. For Lent, I wanted to go from “cutting back” to “cutting out.” Therefore, this Lent, I was ready to challenge myself. I hoped this challenge would bring me closer to my faith and help me truly experience what Lent is supposed to mean for Catholics.

Alcohol Free Zone

What is Lent supposed to mean for Catholics? I’m glad you asked. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “The real aim of Lent is, above all else, to prepare for the celebration of the death and Resurrection of Christ. The better the preparation, the more effective the celebration will be. The purpose of Lent is to provide spiritual purification by weaning from sin and selfishness through self-denial and prayer, by creating the desire to do God’s will and to make His kingdom come by making it come first of all in our hearts.”

Ok, that’s a mouthful. So what does that really mean? Or should I say, what does that mean to me and why did I decide to “give up” alcohol for Lent? To me, abstaining from alcohol and depriving myself of something that once made me feel good, would make me truly focus on what is important in my life. I hoped it also would help me reflect on areas of my life that need improvement. By doing these things and atoning for my sins, I hoped I would be become closer to God.

And you know what’s great? It worked. I think I had the best Lent ever. I think I possibly had my best Triduum ever. For sure, my best Easter ever. It’s truly been a life-changing experience. A sacred experience. Why then was I feeling melancholy? I mean, I had done it. I had abstained from alcohol for more than 40 days. I had kept up my other habits of exercise, diet and prayer. And I’d lost weight doing it!

I think these feelings manifested initially because the end of Lent was somehow signaling the possible end of this new, better version of myself. But why would that be the case? Just because I “could” drink alcohol again, does it mean I “had” to?

The more I thought about things and prayed about these feelings, the answer became clear. I don’t have to change anything. I don’t have to drop these new habits because Lent is over. I can turn my Lenten lifestyle into my everyday lifestyle.

Sure I can enjoy a drink now and again. A glass of wine with dinner when we are at our favorite restaurant. A brown drink or a beer on a Friday when I’ve had a long week. I may even indulge at a happy hour with work colleagues. But, because of my Lenten sacrifices, I no longer have that need for alcohol at certain times. I don’t need it to fill a void. I don’t need it to make me feel content.

I can enjoy alcohol responsibly and still maintain a healthy lifestyle and make healthy choices that keep me on the way to becoming the best version of myself.

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I’ve talked before about celebrating progress. And about focusing on progress not perfection. I think that mindset is what helped me succeed this Lent. At first I didn’t recognize my accomplishment because the melancholy crept in. After some prayer and reflection, I realized I could celebrate the progress gained with these new lifestyle choices and share my experience with this post. I also could build on this progress and work to maintain these habits.

So are you making progress? It’s an important question to ask yourself. Through this Lenten sacrifice, I think I’ve made significant progress. The reason I make this point again is because when I am making progress, I find I am a happier person than when I am obsessing about perfection. Progress brings us to life!

When we sense that we are making progress, we tend to be filled with passion, energy, enthusiasm, purpose, and a real and sustainable joy. Progress fills us with gratitude for the now and hope for the future. Progress creates enduring happiness.

Are you making progress? Are you a better person today than you were a year ago? Are you happier? More fulfilled? Are you a better spouse? boyfriend? girlfriend? parent? employee? employer? teammate? colleague? friend? Are you healthier?

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I’ll close with a quote from Matthew Kelly whose programs and teaching via Dynamic Catholic have truly changed my life. Consider these words when striving to be a better version of yourself. Sometimes the tiniest of changes can make a huge impact on our lives.

“Most people will tell you that they would prefer to live happier lives, but how much time do they actually spend thinking about how they could create and live a happier life? The preference never becomes desire. The desire never becomes action. But they will spend their whole lives preferring a happier life.

Preference is not enough. Progress requires desire and action. The Gospel rearranges our priorities and challenges us to actively seek what God wants in every area of life.

It is not possible to create a genuinely happier life while not also making the world a better place. So let us progress in the direction of happier lives and a better world to pass on to our children and grandchildren.”

What lifestyle changes can you make to progress toward a happier life?

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Progress Not Perfection

Here we are. The Madness of March has begun. We’re nearly at the quarter pole of 2018. You’re probably already asking, “Where has the time gone?” Just yesterday you seemed to be gearing up for the holidays and now it’s just about baseball season.

How are those 2018 resolutions coming? Hopefully, you’re like me and you’re on track with the goals you have set for yourself. What, you weren’t expecting me to say that? Did you think this would be another post about failed resolutions and how tough life is? Not here. Not today. I’m serious. I’m more committed to evolving and achieving my short-term goals in 2018 than I ever have been in my life. It’s all about focusing on progress not perfection.

It really is that simple. It’s not just a phrase, but a mindset to keep you focused and in a positive frame of mind. In order to help you achieve your goals and realize it is not too late to set some for yourself, I want to share with you my goal-setting process. Along the way I will reveal a few of my 2018 goals in hopes you will keep me accountable. Finally, I will show some ways for you to set realistic goals and begin to achieve them. My hope is you’ll realize it isn’t too late to begin your 2018 progress and make the most of what else 2018 has to offer.

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Goal Setting
Goal setting. It’s never been a strong trait of mine. Sure I’ve had goals and dreams. Things I want to do or accomplish, but rarely have I ever written them down. Rarely have I ever truly held myself accountable. Rarely were there repercussions or consequences if I failed to meet them. Partly because they were flimsy goals and partly because I never really took it seriously. I wasn’t very intentional with my actions. This all changed the day I lost my job in 2015.

Since that time, I have had to take a long look in the mirror and completely change the approach to how I live my life and attack tasks. So how did I do this? Well, it didn’t happen overnight. I began to read more books on leadership, entrepreneurship and personal development. I got re-married during this time and my wife is quite possibly the most mindful person on the planet. Her guidance and influence have completely re-shaped my thinking and I must give credit to her for this process.

So what is this transformative process? We like to call it the “Resolve to Evolve” plan. Check out the link and look at the simple to use template to help you brainstorm, create and carry out your goals for the upcoming year. It’s that easy! The action plan only requires you to identify 3 steps leading up to the goal, along with a 6 month review.  Your goals should be SMART.  SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

2018 Goals
My goals for 2018 focus on five categories: health, career, relationships, financial and spiritual/learning. I chose these categories because these are five focus areas that tie into my core values and beliefs. The easiest way to live an intentional life, one that has true purpose, is to align your actions with your core values and beliefs.

Once you have your core values in alignment with your categories, it’s time to get specific with your goals. For me, each category then has three specific goals tied to the category. This then gives me 15 highly actionable areas to focus on this year.

Without going into tremendous detail, below are my top line goals for each category in 2018:

Health
Goal: Complete 80 workouts by 8/31
Why? Make a health and wellness a priority. Workouts need to be the norm and not the exception.

Career
Goal: Obtain more digital marketing certifications
Why? Always need to learn and remain personally marketable.

Relationships
Goal: Send one hand-written note per month
Why? Taking the extra time to write a note makes me feel good. This act nurtures relationships and can also be nice surprise for the recipient.

Financial
Goal: Pay off my last credit card
Why? Financial freedom is important to living a fulfilling life. There is no such thing as “good” debt.

Spiritual/Learning
Goal: Read eight books
Why? Reading books keeps me away from devices. You can never stop leaning and I grow and learn by reading.

Always make sure when writing down your goals to set realistic deadlines, work in a 6-month review or check-in dates to track your progress and have a “why” behind each goal. If you’re not aligning your why to these goals, you’ll lose focus on their importance and more than likely fail to meet them. Without these steps, your goals will lack direction.  And without direction, you may end up at an unknown, and unwanted destination.

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Progress Not Perfection
This statement has resonated with me more than just about any mantra I’ve picked up in the last few years. All too often we focus on the end goal. Any impediment to that goal which slows us down, usually leads to discouragement and may possibly lead to quitting. You must celebrate your small gains and wins along the way. You’re never going to achieve your goals overnight, so you must remain hopeful and focus on progress not perfection.

For my “80 workouts by 8/31” goal, I know that I need to hit the gym 3-4 times a week to meet this challenge. I didn’t set an unrealistic goal of going every day of the week. With my schedule and my commute, that would burn me out really quickly. I also know that some weeks, it may just be one visit. While others I may go 4-5 times. Knowing that life will get in the way, but setting a realistic mark, has allowed me to focus on the progress I make.

The reality is, we’re imperfect people striving for perfection, and we have to learn to celebrate our progress. Perfection isn’t possible. But, a constant effort and a constant celebrating of our progress is possible. The more we celebrate our progress, the more progress we’re likely to make. And the psychological encouragement that comes from knowing that we are actually making progress is incredibly powerful.

I consistently strive to become the-best-version-of-myself. But being intentional in our goal setting and aligning our actions with our core values and beliefs, we can accomplish becoming a-better-version-of-yourself every day. Progress, not perfection. How do I celebrate progress? I share it with writings like this and I look to help others better themselves through goal setting.

How do you celebrate progress?

Using Twitter to Advance Your Career

Twitter wasn’t always my favorite social media platform. In fact, if you ask my former colleagues that remain with Conference USA, they may remember how hesitant I was to sign up for the platform and begin to leverage it with the league. I’ll remind you that this was around 2008-09 when people were sending just under 300,000 tweets per day. It was mostly a conversation platform and because I wasn’t familiar with the interface, I didn’t “get it.” However, it didn’t take long for me to come around on its usefulness. I soon saw its business value and I’ve been fairly addicted to Twitter ever since.

As most people know, worldwide Twitter usage spikes during prominent events, specifically sporting events, with the World Cup and Super Bowl setting usage records each time an event is held. It can be a communal platform that offers near real-time conversations. Despite these items, Twitter still isn’t as popular universally as some would think, especially among 18-29 year olds. This demographic makes up about 36% of all Twitter users. Compare that to Instagram, where 32% of all internet users are using the platform and a whopping 59% of Instagram users are between the ages of 18-29.

During my time as an Auburn University adjunct instructor this past fall, students expressed an interest in learning more about Twitter. In the class of 20 public relations students, many felt they weren’t fully aware of how they could leverage the platform as they prepared to enter the “real world.” Most admitted they could see the value, but weren’t sure how to devote the proper time to it.

Most people use social media tools in many ways for many reasons and thus there is no “secret sauce” for how to get the most out of Twitter. However during my active usage, I have found many ways to take advantage of the platform during my career. Below is a modified version of my presentation to the class at Auburn. I hope you can take away the following key points and make the most of all Twitter has to offer in order to advance your career.

Growing Your Network
It may seem cliché, but in order to further your career you must network, network, NETWORK. Twitter is such a natural way to connect with people because over time you learn more about people’s personal and professional interests. To take that further, you can choose when you want to engage in a conversation and even jump into interesting conversations between other people without it being awkward or inappropriate.

There are many great people in my network who I’ve met via Twitter and still mainly interact with them on the platform. I’d argue that these relationships are as “real” as some I’ve had with people I interact with interpersonally each day. Many of the people I spent time interacting with during my recent job search were Twitter connections. Some offered advice while others offered people to contact and organizations to consider in my job search.

Keeping Tabs on Things That Interest You
The students really liked hearing that they could make Twitter whatever they wanted it to be. By that I meant you can follow those people, brands or whoever it may be that interests you. It can then serve as a de-facto news aggregate or personal RSS feed. For me personally, I follow many national sports writers, beat writers covering my favorite sports teams, #smsports professionals, marketing professionals, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and more.

Whatever field of work you’re in, I’m willing to bet that there is an awesome community of like-minded individuals from it on Twitter. Whether you want to connect with young professionals or journalists and PR professionals, Twitter is the perfect tool for keeping your pulse on what’s going on.

Twitter Chats
My final item is more of a mini listicle. Another great way to expand your network on Twitter and use it to advance your career is to follow Twitter chats. While chats typically take place once a week or month, by participating you are able to find individuals to follow and engage with over time. Here are a few chats to get you started:

  • #U30Pro: Focuses on issues and trends surrounding young professionals. Hosted by @u30pro. (Thursdays at 8pm ET)
  • #Jobhuntchat: Focuses on advice, issues and items for those looking for jobs. Hosted by HR professionals with @JobHuntChat. (Mondays at 9pm ET)
  • #ypsportschat: Focuses on current events impacting young athletics PR professionals. Host by @ypsportschat. (Tuesdays at 9pm ET)
  • #internpro: Focuses on young professionals and connects them to mentors and offers career advice. Hosted by @youtern. (Mondays at 8pm ET)
  • #raganchat: Focuses on issue and trends for PR professionals. Hosted by @ragancomms. (Tuesdays at 3pm ET)
  • #simplychat: Focuses on social media trends to help you connect, create and convert. Hosted by @simplymeasured. (Thursdays at 2pm ET)
  • #hootchat: Focuses on social media trending topics for social media and marketing professionals. Hosted by @hootsuite. (Thursdays at 3pm ET)
  • #omcchat: Focuses on advice, issues and items for those looking for jobs. Hosted by HR professionals with @OmChat. (Fridays 12pm ET)
  • #journchat: Conversation between journalists, bloggers and public relations folks. (Mondays at 8pm EST)
  • #sproutchat: Focuses on digital marketing trends to help you grow your business. Hosted by @sproutsocial. (Wednesdays 3pm ET)

Twitter can be many things for many people. If you consider the above tips, is can be a social media platform that helps you advance your career. Always remember, you are the brand on Twitter. Therefore, the way you package yourself and interact can determine how it helps you in your career. You’ve got to portray and package yourself as someone that knows your values and what you want to achieve.

If you stick to your core objectives and branding, Twitter can be a valuable resource to help you advance your career. In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to just have fun on social media or use its full potential to help you advance your career in ways you never thought possible.

Be Present: Showing Up Is Half The Battle

This article was originally published by Front Office Sports.

Succeeding in your career is sometimes as easy as being present.


If there is one thing that was reinforced during my time as an adjunct professor this fall for Auburn University, it’s that being present and showing up is half the battle.

I told my students on day one that attendance would not be taken. There would be penalties for missing a certain number of classes, but I wouldn’t call roll every class.
I wanted to expose my students as close to real life as possible. Be present, show up, do your work, do it well and go home.

As I near the end of the semester, it is becoming apparent to those that may have rolled their eyes when I initially told them “showing up is half the battle,” that I was serious. A select few have inched way too close to getting penalized and are finding out that they’re behind on their final projects.

What exactly do I mean when I say “show up and be present?” I’ll paraphrase from the awesome book 5 Gears.

All too often people go through life without truly connecting. This leads to missing out on experiences and relationships that have the power to bring them great joy. By understanding how to be fully present when needed, you can improve your ability to connect with the world around you.

As we approach the end of 2017, students and professionals alike are setting goals for personal and professional success in 2018. I have placed an emphasis on showing up this semester in class. In order to succeed, personally or professionally, showing up and being present must be part of your action plan.

BE PRESENT
As someone who sets high expectations for success, I let the students know from day one that the course would consist primarily of content production. Students would gain knowledge from lectures and from the content they produced. Ultimately, they would be creating many assignments outside of class.

Assignments ranged from obtaining a variety of inbound and content marketing certificates, to blog writing, to simple graphic design projects. The final project was a WordPress responsive website featuring the content and certifications they produced.

Many of the more dense lectures were covered early in the semester. The Canvas portal was filled with resources to help answer questions outside of class. Students could begin on the website early in the semester and were encouraged not to wait until the last minute.

I say all this to emphasize the importance of being present for classes and taking advantage of the materials provided. This should be enough to pass the class. Be present, show up, listen, ask the right questions, meet the deadlines and you will receive the majority of the points for the class.

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THE REWARD
I lectured on “real life” instances to help the students understand how what I was saying would be applicable. I tried to lead them the way I wanted to be led when I was their age. I said many times that once they get hired in the “real world” they will be expected to show up and to provide value.

Their chances of succeeding in the ROI-driven world of marketing and public relations today will depend on whether they can bring in money/results for their company and also provide value. I asked questions like:

  • Will you be a return on investment for the company?
  • Are you bringing in numbers?
  • Does your work help attract the right personas?
  • Are you generating leads or sales?
  • Are you generating the right coverage?

It no longer matters if they’re the first one in the office as long as the work is completed on time, the numbers are sufficient and the quality of work is phenomenal. Most jobs in the industry today offer work from home or telecommuting options which allow for greater flexibility.

Be present, show up (whether in the office or not), get your work done, do it well and you’ll be rewarded in time. If you’re doing what you love and are confident in your work, it shouldn’t feel like a battle anyhow.

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ALWAYS SHOW UP
Young professionals, if you don’t believe me yet, I’ll leave you with this. One of the blogs my students are required to write is a letter to their freshman or younger self. Since my class is full of seniors, my hope was to offer a chance for them to reflect on how they’ve grown in four years.

A popular letter to a younger self floating out there on the interwebs and I’ll use it to drive this home. Here’s an excerpt from 10-time NBA All-Star and 2-time NBA Champion Ray Allen’s recent letter to his 13-yer-old self. Let me know if you notice anything.

Sometimes you’ll be afraid. Sometimes you’ll think you’re out of your league. But you’ll keep showing up every day, putting in the work. You’ll put up more than 26,000 shots in your career. Almost six out of 10 won’t even go in. I told you this game was a sonofabitch. Don’t worry, though. A successful man is built of 1,000 failures. Or in your case, 14,000 misses. You’ll win a championship in Boston.”

Being present and showing up is half the battle. So be present. Keep showing up. Good things will happen. I promise.

How Long Will This Take? “Two Weeks…”

In the past, I’ve compared looking for a new job to playing the dating game. You’re ultimately trying to find a new spark and connection that will hopefully lead to commitment. This isn’t an easy process. Whether you are dating different people or going on two job interviews per week, the time and energy spent can be exhausting. Most times you want to have an instant spark so you can move on with your new relationship.

The problem is that nothing moves fast. I’ve told you that part before. You can expect to possibly be on the job hunt around six to eight months. But, I wanted to expand on job hunting a little bit and let you in on a little secret. There’s a secret code phrase used in the HR and job hunt world that is thrown around like candy. At first it will give you hope, but ultimately you will know that it just means more waiting. You better get used to hearing one phrase…“two weeks.”

Two weeks. Doesn’t sound that bad does it? It sounds like a perfectly reasonable time frame and speed at which a big decision such as a hiring should take. It’s just like Tom Hanks in The Money Pit though, and “two weeks” starts to become just a saying, not a reality. Two weeks is about the fastest anyone will move, and many times I’ve learned the phrase can be a place holder so they have something to tell you when you ask about the timeline for a decision.

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From the initial contact you have with a potential employer, to scheduling that first interview, to ultimately meeting the hiring manager in person (if you make it that far), you will need to allow at least two weeks. You just have to. You must be aware of that and be prepared to play the long game.

All companies move at different speeds, and more often than not each speed is slower than the last one you encountered. Even if a company appears to be nearing a decision quickly, I can almost guarantee you that just the decision making process alone may take at least two weeks.

You must understand there are many factors at play in a process like this. You also have to remember you’re not always aware of what is happening on the side of the employer or with the hiring manager. The hiring manager may be playing by a set of rules they can’t control that is dictated by internal factors. Maybe something came up personally for one of the people involved and the decision is delayed. This type of information may or may not be relayed to you.

This is why it is important to build a solid relationships with your point of contact at HR. In my experiences, most HR professionals are very helpful and will guide you through the process if you keep in touch with them regularly. Ask questions about the company or position each time, along with the status of the pending decision. Ask them how they are and be conversational. I would pass this advice to anyone. You can never reach out to the HR folks enough while waiting for a decision. It will show your willingness to work for them.

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I recently had an experience where I was interviewing in person for the second time. I felt like I had played all of my cards right and this was going to be the engagement that sealed the deal. I was their guy and was about to begin a new working relationship. He assured me that they were moving quickly because they needed to fill this position to begin some new marketing initiatives. When I asked him “how quick” is “quick” he said I’ll be making a decision “this week.”

That interview was on a Wednesday. Even though I knew that was an ambitious timeline and was a bit skeptical, who was I to not take him at his word. Then Friday came and went with no word from HR. I reached out to HR on the following Monday and was assured no decision had been made. I reached out to HR again heading into the weekend and got the same assurance. But now one week had passed.

The next Monday went by with no word. I reached out on Wednesday to HR for an update and still was told they had no update because the hiring manager hadn’t told them of his decision. So now “quick” is at the ever-popular two week mark. It wasn’t until the following week, nearly three weeks later, when I was finally told of the decision. And sadly for me, I wasn’t the one chosen. However, because of my relationship with the HR contact, I didn’t feel like I was being strung along. I trusted her that there were factors beyond her control delaying the decision.

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I tell you all this not to scare you or come off as bitter or cynical. I’m telling you this to prepare you for the grind that is the job hunt. You can’t allow the long process to get you down. You must persevere and use the tools I’ve been equipping you with to stay positive. For me that has been utilizing my network of support, praying, eating right, working out and writing for outlets such as this one.

Because I have stayed true to my beliefs and my approach, I know that I am nearing a breakthrough in my search. Even if it has taken a long time to make some gains, I feel like I’m about to leap over the goal line for a touchdown.

If anyone else is tired of constantly hearing “two weeks” and would like to discuss how to stay aggressive on the job hunt, feel free to reach out in the comments, on Twitter or drop me a line. As I’ve stated before, I’m no expert, nor do I have all the answers. But through my writing and experiences, I hope to be able to help someone facing a similar situation. If I can help anyone, in any way, I’d be more than happy!

The Job Hunt Is Like Dating

This post was originally posted on Front Office Sports.

As I inch closer to to landing my next full-time job, it’s becoming more apparent every day that I’m playing the field. Yup, just like when you’re looking for the right person to date or settle down with.

Now I don’t claim to be a “player” who was playing the field that much in my personal life, but the parallels are just too striking. In both dating and job-hunting, two strangers come together, seeking to find a spark and commonalities. That rapport will then make both parties want to meet again and eventually be together for a long-term commitment.

Three steps help guide both dating and job-hunting. The first step is researching prospects and trends to find the perfect match. The second is succeeding in building interest and a connection with the other person or company. The third step is agreeing to be together, putting in the effort to fuel a long-term connection.

Sounds so easy right? Well it’s not! Knowing those basics steps will help you navigate your search, but I’m here to pull back the curtain a little further and let you in on my reasons why job-hunting is like dating.

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Nothing Moves Fast
Be prepared for a long chase. A long courting period if you will. Both finding the right employer and the right companion should take time. Not only should it take time, it will. Both of my most recent job-hunts have taken close to eight months or more. I went into this one prepared for it to take at least that long, and it has. It was close to six months before I began to get real strong leads and begin to get interviews.

There are a lot of job postings and a lot of clutter to cut through in order to get noticed and get an interview. You must remind yourself consistently that nothing moves fast. You may apply for a job and four months later you hear from HR. All companies move at different paces and each pace is slower than the next. Stay the course and pursue those leads and in time (usually a long time) the right opportunity will present itself as a result of your effort and perseverance.

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Nothing Will Be Given To You
You can follow my networking tips all you want, but it’s still up to you in the end. You have to work for what will eventually come your way. Nothing will be given to you. You may hear of the “old boy” network or maybe you’ve experienced someone get something you didn’t think they deserved because of who they knew. Well, I can tell you that a situation like that most likely won’t happen to you.

The vast majority of people have to work for all that is given to them. Never approach the job-hunt like you’re a “shoo-in” or that anything is promised to you. Work hard and put your best self forward. Don’t let that Imposter Syndrome creep in. Have confidence in your abilities, connect with others, own your successes and avoid comparing your situation to anyone else’s.

Pursue All Leads
This is the part where, for me at least, the job-hunt has been the closest to dating. You must get comfortable playing the field and pursuing all the leads that you have. In the last month I’ve had phone interviews, in-person interviews, more in-person interviews and even a job offer for a brief moment (more on this later…). You have to get comfortable in telling each suitor that they’re the one. They don’t need to know that you have a variety of suitors. That is your business. If the timing is right they will be the one. But, the timing has to be right. It’s nice to be wanted and it’s nice to have choices, but sometimes the first choice is the one you take if you have to take care of your family.

That said, don’t be afraid to keep the relationships you built intact, and continue to pursue leads even if you accepted an offer. You have to look out for yourself and what is best for you and your family. Don’t get too romantic about a job or job offer. If another opportunity comes along that can better your life, take it. Trust me, you’ll regret not playing the filed and looking to find the best opportunity out there.

The day will finally come when you’re in the right job, for the right reasons, and your contributions will be balanced by support and the opportunity to grow. Much like my marriage, you will be fully invested and eager to put time and work into the relationship. Now, if only I can find a job as “perfect” as my wife.

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Stay Optimistic
This last point may be the most important. I’ve written this many times before, but the best way to further your personal growth is through positivity and proactivity. If you aren’t doing these two things, you will be unprepared to take action when faced with adversity. You must always stay positive and remain optimistic.

YOU ultimately control your attitude each day and how you will react and handle situations. If you allow the grind of dating, I mean job-hunting, get you down then you may tell yourself it’s impossible to find “the one.” You can’t allow the long process to get you down. Use your support system, use your networking, use prayer, use whatever it takes to remain positive.

I know that I am nearing to a breakthrough in my search. Even though it has taken a long time to feel like I am close to the goal line, I have remained positive throughout the entire process. I’ve remained mindful that I’m attacking this challenge the right way. I’ve even managed to stave off Imposter Syndrome when it creeps in.

If anyone reading this wants to connect or discuss how to attack their next job-hunt, feel free to reach out in the comments, on Twitter or drop me a line. I don’t claim to be an expert, or have all the answers. But through my writing and sharing my experiences, I hope that I can help someone facing a similar situation. If I can help anyone through this process in any way, I’d be more than happy.

3 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

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This post was originally published for Front Office Sports.

As I’ve progressed through the ups and downs of my latest job search, I’ve often had certain feelings of doubt or said to myself, “What if people realize that I don’t know as much as they think I do?”

While I have made great strides to be more mindful and self-aware, it’s only natural that doubt can creep in when you’re going on month six without a job offer. I’ve made progress with interviews and, just last week, had four in four days (and somehow managed to survive)! But, the more you sell yourself and your skill set, the more it can feel like you may be selling something that isn’t entirely true.

I approached my wife about these feeling and she mentioned the phrase “Imposter Syndrome,” something she has read about in the past and has also experienced. I had never heard that term before but it makes perfect sense.

Coined in the 1980s, Imposter Syndrome is having the nagging fear of being “found out” as not being as smart or talented or deserving or experiences or (fill-in-the-blank) as people think.

It’s actually a quite common phenomenon and research has found that up to 70% of people have suffered from Imposter Syndrome at some point. Myself included.

It’s a solid bet that outside of super low achievers, narcissists, or someone certifiable, being susceptible to the self-doubt that feeds this syndrome is common. What matters the most, however, is knowing how to deal with and process these thoughts and fears. We can’t let them overwhelm us and prevent us from taking the actions needed to achieve our goals and aspirations.

If you’ve related to anything I’ve described so far, good for you! Imposter Syndrome is very common in high achievers. It shows that you’re not ready to settle for mediocrity. You aim high and are committed to giving your very best and being your best self while striving to attain whatever goals you have set for yourself.

That said, overcoming Imposter Syndrome requires self-awareness. A firm grasp that what you’ve achieved and what you want to achieve are impressive and attainable. You’ve given your best all along the way and that is what matters. You don’t have to be “the best” at anything or have “the best” numbers or achievements to be worthy of the accolades you’ve earned in your career.

Don’t let your fear of being “found out” take hold of you in your career. Consider these three thoughts the next time you let self-doubt creep in.

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Own Your Success

Don’t let the fear of being “found out” have you start attributing your successes to external factors (luck, others involved, etc.). Never minimize an accomplishment that you truly had a hand in! Own what you have done and been a part of in your career. Even if it was a collaborative effort, you were still a part of that team. I challenge you to make a list of all that you have accomplished in the last five years. Write it all down and take pride in it. I hope you will see that you deserve the successes you’ve had.

Stop Comparing

Just as I wrote in my FOMO piece, there is nothing that lets doubt creep in faster than comparing yourself to someone else. Author Iyanla Vanzant believes that “comparison is an act of violence against the self.”Comparisons are always biased and rarely helpful. All of those “highlight reels” posted on social media do nothing but reinforce Imposter Syndrome. It leads us to think that everyone else has it easier or is having a better time in their life. The reality is actually many people are struggling just like you with a unique set of challenges. When you realize that, it may also help you to realize you may be more equipped to handle your challenges than them. Stop comparing and start realizing you deserve all that has come your way.

Stay Focused on Your Goals

Imposter Syndrome can sabotage your future success on so many levels. Don’t let it into your consciousness so much that you begin to settle for less or truly believe you are inadequate. Use the tips I’ve been sharing in my blogs to help you be more self-aware and productive. Don’t play it safe or not totally sell yourself in that next job interview. Trust me, they are speaking with you for a reason and you know your accomplishments are legit. Be confident with your delivery and be humble enough to admit that you don’t know it all. Know that you’re speaking with them because you know you can provide value and you want to accomplish your goals as a part of their team.

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When I had that run of four interviews last week I’ll be honest, I went in to each one a bit nervous of being “found out.” However, I had the confidence and awareness to realize that if I was myself and could lay my pride and vulnerability on the line, good things would happen if they were supposed to.

It takes courage to put yourself out there and go after big goals. But, don’t let these fears of being “found out” dictate your future choices or prevent you from chasing new opportunities. You’ll truly discover how much you are capable of and how much you can truly accomplish when you know you’re putting forward your best self and are completely confident in your abilities.

Four Ways To Avoid FOMO

This blog was originally published by Front Office Sports

Fear Of Missing Out. FOMO. I know you’ve heard of it. It’s a real thing and both people and brands have trouble with it on social media. I’d be willing to bet that both of those groups fight it on a daily basis.

Social media is such a huge part of our daily lives. The latest studies show that social media captures 30% of our online time. This percentage has increased each year (not surprisingly) since sources began tracking this activity.

This ever-increasing checking of social media is leading to many cases of FOMO. Our attention is diverted from our real work and real problems by the escape of social media. I’d be willing to bet many of the posts you see on social media come from brands and marketers trying to capture your attention.

Those marketers see these statistics and know their target audiences are spending more time on social media each year. So, what better way to reach them than with social messages.

In the process of marketing on social media, brands also fall into the same FOMO traps and begin to post content that is off-message and off-brand, just so they can appear to be “hip” and “on-trend”. There’s always some made up hashtag day or celebration day on social, and god forbid a brand not try to partake.

But let’s be real, not everything on social is important (gasp!) and not everything on social needs to distract us from what really matters. So, in an effort to help level off your time spent on social media, let me present my four ways to avoid FOMO so you can become a better version of yourself.

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It’s all a highlight reel
I’ve spent the recent party of my career working within social and digital media and I sometimes get to the point of struggling to see what is the point of it all. I am a confessed Twitter addict (I’m working on this) and also really enjoy other platforms. But sometimes I struggle to see what’s the point of it all.

A thought that has helped me process the popularity contest that is social media is that it’s just that, mostly a popularity contest. People brag about their best bits and that’s it. And there is the belief that share and like counts quantify how exciting your life is. A recent study says almost a quarter of what you see on social media is either faked or exaggerated.

This leads to people comparing themselves to their peers and being in constant competition to get their life as good as everyone else’s. Stop this thinking. In fact, enjoy social media through the lens of knowing it’s all a highlight reel. Stop comparing. Stop judging. Everyone’s highlight reel looks awesome. Know that everyone is facing problems that aren’t “Facebook worthy” and their life is never perfect as it is depicted. Keeping this perspective can make social more enjoyable.

Less is more
This old phrase holds true for social media as well. If you want to be your best self and avoid FOMO, set goals or parameters to check and post on social media less. It may be a struggle at first. Heck, you may have to delete the icons from your phone (raise your hand if you’ve done this!). But, I’ve found this to be very therapeutic.

Two years ago when I went through some major life struggles, I gravitated away from social media instead of towards it when times got tough. I’m generally a private person and sharing my struggles on Facebook and Twitter just seemed wrong. So, I began to check and post less often. It helped me realize that I shouldn’t compare my life to everyone else’s highlight reel. It also allowed me to focus more on what mattered to me personally (formed by my own opinions and not others) and I shifted my focus to others around me.

Set a goal this month to check and post on social media less and focus on yourself and those that are important to you more. Trust me, this will simplify things in your life.

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Best self
Now that you have everyone else’s posts in the proper context and you’ve simplified your posting and checking, is there anything else you can do to become your best self and avoid FOMO?

Yes! Now is the time to evaluate what makes you happy and not what is appearing to make other people happy. Focus on what matters in your everyday life. What are you learning new today? Who are you reaching out to today? What are you challenging yourself with today? Did you hug your kids? Did you tell your spouse you love them? Did you pray? Did you workout? Did you stick to your new health eating plan? These are all ways to help keep you on track to being the best you and ways to make you happy.

These are also all things that are better than posting that latest selfie or one-liner on social media. Prioritizing the things that matter the most to you, and leaving social media as a small portion of your life will keep FOMO at bay.

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Is it worth it?
The last point is an attempt to drive home every thing I have said to this point. Is FOMO worth it? My wife has a phrase she likes to use on me when I’m contemplating a decision. She will say to me “And then what…”. Which means, what happens next? What are the consequences or outcomes of your decision? So you post that selfie on Instagram with the trending hashtag. Well, and then what? What does it do for you? Why does it matter?

So you saw people gathering at the bar and then joined in and stayed till “last call”. Well, and then what? You probably went to work hungover. Or you worse, you got to work late. Or you missed church on Sunday morning or that early morning commitment you had on Saturday.

Having FOMO and letting the highlight reels of social media suck you in can lead to unintended consequences or outcomes. Work hard to think about if your activity and posts on social media are really worth it. Just always ask “And then what…”, you’ll be surprised at how this phrase can change your decision making.

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I’ve struggled with FOMO my entire life. Even before social media existed, I was the person who struggled to leave a party, didn’t want to miss out on what others were doing and needed that human interaction. I also always compared what others were doing as a way to evaluate my life.

It has been a process during my adult life to change these habits and begin to focus on what is really important to me.

FOMO is hard. I get it. But, the tips above are a great way to make changes in your life. They aren’t drastic changes, but are ones that will help you take social media a little less seriously and help you prioritize the things that will help you become the best version of yourself.

 

 

 

Your Career May Be A Jungle Gym…And That’s OK

A popular book on the #SBBX and one my wife read this summer is Sheryl Sandberg’s thought-provoking book, Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead. It’s a great read for working women and for the men who are married to them.

One of the more popular quotes from the book, one which we have discussed at length, is the following: “A jungle gym scramble is the best description of my career. I could never have connected the dots from where I started to where I am today.” She attributes the metaphor to Fortune magazine editor Pattie Sellers.

She’s totally right. We grow up hearing about the “career leader” and how your career should be a “climb to the top” or at least a climb to a level that makes you happy and secure. I had this mindset for most of my early professional career. It was all I knew really. But, if I had to do things over again, I’m positive I would approach my career differently.

The era of employment for life with one company is over. Workers now switch from job to job much more frequently in search of grafter fulfillment and compensation. Today, the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times (with an average of 12 job changes) during his or her career. Most workers spend five years or less in every job, so they devote more time and energy transitioning from one job to the next.

That is why approaching job searches must be done differently these days and consistent networking is a must. You also have to be agile as you track and adjust to job market trends.

So how do you go about having this agile mindset? How do you plan for professional development and not just career planning? Let me provide a few examples I now employ during my career shifts that I wish I had been more cognizant of from the jump.

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Stay Relevant I’ve written this previously, but staying relevant by learning to code, getting various certifications and learning the basics of video production and photography are great ways to stay up to date on industry trends. Many companies today look for talent that is experienced in wide areas of expertise. Always learning new things and staying relevant in the skills that industry HR people are looking for will help you as you look to advance your career.

Be Mindful of Your Social Media Presence — I have many thoughts on “personal branding” which I hope to write about for FOS soon, but I did want to touch on the topic here. Whether you realize it or not, everything you post on social media can help form people’s opinions of you. Therefore, it is your choice to either actively control and shape your personal brand, or let others do it for you. You need to be your best advocate because how you present yourself online could determine future leadership or career opportunities.

Take Advantage of Lateral or Downward Moves — This one may seem counterproductive, but career opportunities come in all shapes, sizes and directions. This is really what can turn your career path into a career jungle gym. During my time searching for new employment I’ve spoken with many people who arrived to their current position by moving laterally within a company or even down, to then progress in a different department. These moves also allow you to see the bigger picture of your business or brand from another point of view. Always stay open to the opportunities that present themselves. You never know what move, no matter the direction, may be the next key to your career success. Trust me here, I can pinpoint a specific lateral opportunity with a previous employer that I wish I had pursued. I don’t dwell on it, but I do look back at how foolish I was for not even entertaining the thought of trying a different route during my early tenure in athletics.

Apply For The Position Anyway — I can’t tell you how many times professionals hold back from applying for a position because they don’t think they have the skills needed to succeed. It’s OK if you don’t, as long as you have the drive, motivation, and resourcefulness needed to get the job done. Be calculated in your risk taking. Honestly assess where your skill gaps are and get advice from a mentor to help you determine if the position is a right fit for your development plan.

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These are just a few things to consider as you move around on your career jungle gym. It’s perfectly OK to not always climb upward as you move to each new career opportunity. You have to move in the directions and in the positions that will bring you the most joy and give you the most career fulfillment.

Just because the move may not be in the direction that your father, mother, sister or brother made in their career path, doesn’t mean you’re not advancing your career.

By considering the steps above, continuing to network and build relationships, and knowing it’s OK to make career moves every few years, you’ll ultimately find that progressing through your career like a kid on a jungle gym is perfectly normal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Become the Books That We Read

This article was originally published for Front Office Sports.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body and prayer is to the soul. We become the books that we read.” — Matthew Kelly

As I continue the jungle gym climb through my career (more thoughts on this next week), I’ve become more and more of a reader. By stating this, I know I am admitting that, outside of the sports page or Sports Illustrated in high school and college, then Twitter and sometimes Facebook in my early adult life, I never read much at all.

As I’ve gone through life’s inevitable ups and downs, reading has became a source of pleasure and relaxation for me. It’s a time to be mindful, learn about my profession, learn new things and gain wisdom from others. I didn’t always view it this way and fully admit I wasted many years not committed to reading and learning.

The older I get and the more I realize you can never stop learning and reading, the more I take Matthew Kelly’s quote to heart. I’ve seen the changes that exercise and a proper diet have brought to my life and I’ve also begun to realize the power of prayer. Reading is another part of my life that has become a must for me if I’m to become the best version of myself.

I now find myself adding to my reading list on a regular basis, discussing with friends and family the latest books they have read. In my opinion, you should always have a running list of books that you want to read, or that have been recommended to you for one reason or another. This allows you to consistently learn and figure out which books become a part of you.

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Towards the end of each professional development Q&A session that I recently published on my personal blog, I asked for the last book each subject read or was reading.

Publishing this blog reading list exposed me to a new endeavor my friend Mark Hodgkin recently began. His “Sports Business Book Exchange” is a great way to connect with others in the #sportsbiz industry and also keep your reading list fresh.

I’m on my second month in the exchange and it’s already been a very rewarding experience. If you’d like to join or have questions, hit Mark up on Twitter or visit the sign up link here: #SBBX

Below is the aggregate list from my blog series in hopes that you will get some inspiration for your own reading and soon learn that you too will become the books you read. Trust me, this is a good thing!

Chris Yandle — Do Over by Jon Acuff

Karen Freberg — Known by Mark Schaefer

Kevin Adema — The Shift by Scott M. Davis

Kristin Seed — Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

Troy Johnson — Edelman and the Rise of Public Relations by Franz Wisner
Headed For Home by Mary Helen Brown

Lora Wey — You Win in the Locker Room First by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith

Mark Hodgkin — So Good They Can’t Ignore You and Deep Work by Cal Newport

Brett Myers — The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

J.W. Cannon — Chaos Monkeys by Antonio Garcia Martinez

Kevin DeShazo — Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator or Nike by Phil Knight

I plan to add each and every one of these books to my “on deck list” and I hope that you check them out as well. Below, I’ve given a few more recommendations from my book shelf that you may like.

What I’m Reading — The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler, It Looked Like Forever by Mark Harris and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

What’s On Deck — Brands Win Championships by Jeremy Darlow, The Best Yes by Lisa Terkeurst, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki, Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly, The Last Boy: Micky Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood by Jane Leavy, Pistol by Mark Kriegal

What I Recommend — Resisting Happiness by Mathew Kelly, Toughness by Jay Bilas, One Last Strike by Tony LaRussa, 3 Nights in August by Buzz Bissinger, The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons, The Southpaw — Bang The Drum Slowly — A Ticket For Seamstitch all by Mark Harris, Content Rules by Ann Handley and CC Chapman, UnMarketing by Scott Stratten, What To Do When It’s Your Turn by Seth Godin, Jab Jab Jab Right Hook and #AskGaryVee both by Gary Vaynerchuck.

I’d love to hear feedback on the above recommendations and I’d also like to hear some of your favorites. Please email, tweet, or leave comments below with some of your favorite recommendations.