Wednesday, May 25, 2011


My dear boss at Side-by-Side is hitting the road next week. She has a sweet opportunity and makes me wish big things for my own life...especially when I am 51 and have three kids and wear cute clothes and have a dog named George Constanza and have friends who are cosmetics buyers at Nordstrom. Wait, I guess I just like her life. ANYWAY.

In no particular order, what I have learned from Colleen!

1. Oprah is worth watching. And quoting. And talking about the next morning. And DVRing.
2. Self-talk is not a cheesy phrase. It's what we all need to pay attention to more often. This is not the same as pretending I am blameless at all times.
3. When you need to correct someone, help them avoid the bad self-talk they will dish out on themselves by being nice a nice person. Whenever I made (small, medium and big) mistakes in my job, especially early on, she'd walk me through an alternative option and say, "LEARNING, LEARNING!" And we would giggle and I wouldn't feel awful. I'd just learn.
4. When your mom is far away, it's okay to let other women Mom's age see you cry.
5. Pay attention to the way of the world and adapt and learn about it, especially if that means more fundraising dollars for your nonprofit. Don't be a stick in the mud just because you like mud.
6. Photos tell stories and should be printed LIBERALLY and rotated often, so we remember all the stories.
7. It's smart to be logged into Facebook during work. You can look up people's email addresses and tag them when you need volunteers at the last minute for boring jobs. And perhaps notice when your volunteers start dating each other!
8. When somebody like Susan Boyle happens to the world, close the dang spreadsheet and WATCH. And talk about it with your people at work, and tell the department next door.
9. Remember that every single soul has a gift to give and a place to shine. No matter how quirky or personally annoying I may find that soul. Let people do jobs they are going to be good at.
10. Grief brings up grief. When a volunteer works with a family who has a sick kid, lots of other ish is likely to flood that volunteer. Because when you're confronted with somebody else's sad story, you remember your own, so it's good to think about how that might happen and reflect on it, so your sad story doesn't drown somebody else's in a really crap way.
11. Back to #3, I think I actually did have bad self talk for a LONG time when I was learning (at my job and maybe in all my life). And so my favorite lesson from Colleen is that learning doesn't have to be so uncomfortable. It doesn't have to include self-loathing and regret. It can mean noticing what to do differently next time, apologizing some of the time, and getting on with the day.
12. Take care of your people. When our staff was torn up about a kiddo who died last year, really, really torn up, Colleen didn't try to coach us out of being (actually, disproportionately) sad, she took us for pedicures. Everybody. We sat there and talked about his funeral and the weather and read People magazine. And that is exactly what we needed. So take care of your people. Spend some money if that's what it takes. But don't talk them out of it--care them back.

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