Beyoncé vs. Ballads (Know Yourself)


“So what’s #PluckyWomen?” I was standing at the bar, ready to order. I looked up from the drink menu at the dude next to me and in that second a song started playing over the speakers — the song I listen to when I’m writing big SOWs or prepping ambitious new pitches.

Maybe it was because I was there a little early and didn’t have anyone to get back to at the table. Maybe it was because I wanted to warm up my voice before facilitating career conversations. But probably it was because of that song. I came out swinging.

I told him what I believe about networks, how valuable community and camaraderie are for women, how I know women who are holding down full time jobs and raising children and cooking meals and who still have time to be in book clubs. “Women are multitasking NINJAS,” I said. “And often we’re only talking to each other about our kids or our relationships. I want us to talk about work so we get more seats at the table.”

He asked for four business cards to give to his sister, mother, aunt and cousin. Score.

I’ve written before about my recent foray into running. In the first few weeks of C25K I tried to double up the 40 minutes I spent exercising. While I ran (and walked), I also listened to a smart podcast about the news. I was getting in shape AND learning! For the first two weeks it was awesome.

But once the training turned into longer stretches of running, I found it impossible to keep with it. I was supposed to run 8 minutes in a row AND process the escalating violence inspired by the current administration? Both made me want to lay down on someone’s lawn and tell them to bring me donuts.

I didn’t want to give up on being informed. But I know myself. I’m 36 years deep in Jen Daryness. Girl ain’t running without real motivation.

So I traded podcasts for pop music and moved Pod Save America to serve as background while washing dishes. Eight weeks later I survived my 5k.

When I sit down to write, I am tempted to catch up on Twitter over my first few sips of coffee. But that inevitably turns me into a doomsday basket case. So lately I’ve been reading one of David McCullough’s essays before writing. McCullough writes about American character, always an optimistic voice for where we have been and where we are going. This morning I underlined this passage:

“It might never have happened. That’s among the most important lessons of history… and of life. There is so much around us that might never have happened were it not for a host of qualities called imagination, commitment, courage, creativity, and determination in the face of obstacles — that maybe most of all.”

It was exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I closed the book, put my coffee down and here we are.

You know that phrase, “you are what you eat”? I think it’s bigger than that. You are what you retweet. You are who you meet for drinks. You are what you watch or subscribe to or read. You are a culmination of everything you’re consuming, whether that’s food or otherwise.

So first of all, human, you have choices about what you put in your noggin.

And second of all, you have powerful expertise about yourself.

Don’t listen to ballads when you need Beyoncé. You know what songs (or tasks or PEOPLE) make you feel strong. And you know what books (or responsibilities or PEOPLE) really take the air out of your lungs. Start making decisions about how and when to leverage this knowledge and you’ll find that even your most daunting moments become navigable.

Everything I’m writing about here is vital to managers owning their authority. Are you a manager? You should join us at Plucky manager training in NYC this summer. I would love to see you there, but more than that you’ll get a lot out of it. Join us!