I had a celebratory drink with two friends last night, during which we shared humorous holiday family anecdotes. Candidly, you had to find humor in them, or we each individually would have likely ripped our collective eyebrows out. Somehow, during this season of giving and hope, many of us succumb to feelings of stress and obligation instead. This holiday season, I’m saying “no” to the negative, and “hello” to the possibilities.
Rather than offer one last bit of career advice for my final post of the year, I’ll instead share ten highlights that made my professional year one to remember….and to be very grateful for.
10. The Newbies. It was a year of big growth in our company, as well as big change. My team never let up, and managed to bring in some incredible new hires who possess that magic balance of skill, a great attitude, strong aptitude, and are just great culture fits. Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." That just about sums it all up.
9. The Team. Michael Jordan, of the Chicago Bulls once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." Any success this year has been made even sweeter because of the incredible group of people I have surrounded myself with at work. Everyone understands the role they play and how it contributes to the bigger picture, and each team member works hard to maximize their impact.
8. The Cheerleaders. Even those people whose jobs are a fundamental piece of who they are will admit that any success is more meaningful when they have a support system on the sidelines cheering them on. Whether it is parents, family, friends, or special colleagues, how fortunate are we that can step outside of our work and disconnect with the aid of our special people? Someone in your corner saying, “Believe you can,” is the voice you just need to hear sometimes.
7. The Learnings. I truly believe that you can’t move forward unless you are willing to take some risks to innovate and move outside your comfort zone. When you live like that, you are bound to stumble at points. Be resilient, dust yourself off, and try again. My absolute best learnings came this year because of missteps that I persevered through, before eventually reaching success. While I have no idea who said it, the adage, “The harder you work for something, the greater you’ll feel when you finally achieve it,” is completely true for me.
6. The Opportunities.
“When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity,” was something John Kennedy said years ago. This is a philosophy I’ve embraced deeply as my ode to working in start-ups. It’s permanently tattooed on my ankle as a visual reminder that every seemingly chaotic situation can be viewed as a little scary…or chock full of a whole bunch of opportunity. I just love opportunity.
5. The Laughs.
“If you can laugh together, you can work together,” said Robert Orben. And if you can find the funny in tense or challenging situations, even better. I consider it a great day when I leave at night knowing I created impact…and almost wet my pants laughing at least a hand full of times with my co-workers.
4. The Struggles.
Molière beautifully said, “The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” Color me crazy, but I don’t love it when things come easy. I often like a big, messy problem to solve. Yes, you can find yourself stressed and staring up a daunting mountain of work, and yet, almost nothing feels better coming out the other side victorious.
3. The Successes.
Let’s keep it real: even with the greatness that comes from overcoming obstacles, winning beats losing anytime. From rebuilding a team to blowing up annual performance reviews, to inspiring another to do what they didn’t think possible, I had some great successes this year. And a secret to guaranteeing my win? Tell me I can’t do something. I didn’t say it, but I live this quote fully. “The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you can’t.” Yup, I dare you.
2. The Embracing of Who You Are. Shonda Rhimes, brilliant creator of shows like Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder, recently published a book called, “Year of Yes.” Apparently, unlike the majority of us who fancy the word “no!” when approached with a difficult request, she spent considerable effort saying “yes” to expand her horizons. One of the lines that resonated most with me? “Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.” She’s right. It’s not luck. It’s hard work. When you put in the blood, sweat, and commitment for everything you achieve, you are not lucky. You’re a badass. Own it.
1. The Fresh Start.
Writing this post is likely the most reflective I’ll be on the year of 2016. I get my energy looking forward to new possibilities, not looking backward to what’s already been done. Yes, a moment to celebrate successes or take stock of what you’ve learned is lovely and important; but it’s not a motivator for me. What comes next -- the next big challenge -- and determining all the different ways to accomplish it is what excites me. The ability to open a fresh notebook on January 1st and begin crafting the future fills me with giddy excitement.
So I’ll end with a quote said by nearly every human being on Earth each December 31st as midnight approaches…”Happy New Year!”
May your holidays be filled with love, peace, and rest…2017 is just around the corner, and if you intend to approach it with gusto and an eye towards impact, you’re going to need it!