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Life lessons in overcoming challenges

Posted by Chad O'Connor  December 17, 2013 06:00 AM

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Challenges are something we all deal with. The most important thing we can do when facing challenges is to think positive, move beyond them, learn and grow from them, and be adaptable. Some people have mastered this concept. Others can learn it. Everyone has the power to take control of their lives and move forward.

Fawn Germer, Oprah-featured best-selling author, motivational speaker, leadership consultant, and former Pulitzer-nominated journalist, recently gave the keynote speech at the 18th Annual United Way Women’s Leadership Breakfast. Germer shared powerful words of wisdom on life, interacting with others, overcoming challenges, and growing and advancing. After the event, I interviewed her to get further insight. The following is some useful advice that Germer shared.

What can we do to stay marketable?
In this climate, there’s no 100 percent certainty. You can change course but always need to move forward. It is a world that strives on change. It used to be that you’d get out of college, get promoted, get older, and then enjoy your seniority by resting on your laurels a little bit. That doesn’t work anymore. There are young graduates coming out who can do more with their thumbs than some can do with both hands, and they will work for a third the salary of you.

We used to count on loyalty from our employers, but business isn’t all that loyal anymore. Your company wants you if you are delivering. If you aren’t, you are expendable. The way to keep delivering is to know what is coming. Study your industry, company, and the next trend in technology. Know what to do long before you are called in for a training session. You have to constantly learn, re-invent yourself, and make yourself viable. Success depends on adaptability.

Can you share your thoughts on work/life and time management?
Determine what it is you are doing and what it is you want to be. Your life is a much bigger place than your job. You need to honor your values and make conscious choices about your time. When we realize we are here on earth to experience life, we learn to be mindful of everything. When we know what counts, it becomes a heck of a lot easier to make the right choices with our career and how we spend our time.

If someone is dealing with a specific challenge, what do you recommend?
Affirmations help you change your mindset, erase the negative tapes that are hindering your performance, and re-write them with positive prompts that get you ready to succeed. The brain gives us so much power to control our performance by controlling our thoughts. Few people ever use it.

Some examples of affirmations that people can say are as follows:

When dealing with grief after losing a loved one in your life: Feeling stronger every day.

If you lose someone through a divorce: I am now beginning my life over. I feel stronger every day.

If you are having issues at work: I am feeling positive at my job every day.

To get beyond self-esteem issues: I am happy, positive, wonderful, and my life matters. I am …

Start saying the affirmations 100 times a day, and then gradually get down to saying the affirmations 5 times a day. They will re-write the negative in your mind.

What if someone lets you down?
The world is filled with people that may let you down. Kill them with kindness and be careful who you get close to. Not everyone comes into the world with the same motives and values.

Is hard work enough to get recognized and advance?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking hard work will be recognized and you will advance simply because of it. It takes more than that. You need to promote yourself and claim credit for your accomplishments. Otherwise, someone else may claim credit for them.

What do you think about competition in the workplace?
We all need to help each other – men and women. With women, focus on not being the only woman in the room instead of competing with other women for a piece of the pie and create more pie. Instead of saying how hard it was getting to where you are now, bring someone else along.

Ellen Keiley is President of EMK Consulting Group, a provider of business development and brand building consulting services. She is also President of the National Association of Women MBAs Boston Professional Chapter Board of Directors, serves on the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Women’s Advisory Board, serves as a Vice Chair of the United Way and City Year’s Women’s Leadership Initiatives, appears weekly on RadioBDC’s Global Business Hub segment, and is a freelance writer. She can be contacted at; connect on Twitter @ellenmkeiley
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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