To The Person Who Wants to Give Up Because Their Work Is Undervalued

So, no one is showing up. The retweets aren’t coming. Your inbox is empty. The callback never came. No one seems to notice what you’re sharing with the world. You feel like you’re wasting your time.

Only a few people have seen your work and said: “Well done.”  Others were confused or uninterested.

You seek more validation, but you’re seemingly insatiable. You await the moment when all that you do is considered credible.

What do your friends say? What do your co-workers say? What do your toughest critics say?

Somehow, what you believe about yourself doesn’t matter as much. It doesn’t hold much weight.

This process leaves you feeling isolated. Some of this is a result of you pushing away those who actually matter. Some of this is the sadness that comes with you concluding that you don’t measure up.

Let’s be clear about this. You’ve been working your absolute hardest for a long time. You’ve cried from the exhaustion.

There are stacks of dusty rough drafts no one is allowed to see. Some ideas are tucked away because they’re too outrageous, outlandish, impractical.

“This won’t work. And it if does, no one will like it.” Bitterness and hopelessness taken up residence. They appear to be permanent tenants.

You’re giving up.

You think back to that time someone told you that your work sucked. Maybe they laughed at you. Maybe they minimized everything you brought forth. Maybe they promised they’d show up, but they didn’t. It was just an audience of one: Disappointment.

Disappointment has been hovering over every single one of your creations. It muddies things. It renders you incapable of seeing all those other good and needed parts of you.

Because you are needed. Your work is needed. What you have to give is what you have to give. No one can take that away from you.

Alas, the most formidable threat to your work, the most challenging adversary to all that you will ever do or create, is you. Every time you pull back and keep your gifts, skills, talents, products, projects, music, cuisine, teaching, love, dancing, writing, anything from the the world, someone loses.

This is not to say that everything you do is ground-breaking or awe-inspiring. It is to say that the thing which you’ve put a lot into matters.

You have no idea of who is better off because you’re here. And, you don’t get to say all of what your positive impact has been on others.

You’d surely miss something.

You don’t truly get to say what your work can and can’t do, because you will never be able to read the heart and mind of everyone whose path you’ve crossed.

While you’re permitted to give up, quit, run away, hide, or shrink someone misses out on their blessing.

Every time you hide your light, someone loses. 

All of your fears, feelings, and reluctance is valid because hurt is real and harm is sometimes everlasting. Guilt nor shame have any place here.

This is simply a reminder: what you have to give matters so much.

I say all this with grace and love and openness, knowing that everyone doesn’t have the access and privilege and space to do all they wish to do. This is about all that you can give right where you are right now. Whether it be glamorous, or unassuming. Require funding or none at all.

I say this from the deepest parts of me because I too have wanted to give up so many times (and have) because I didn’t get the feedback I wanted. I didn’t get the response I thought I needed. I created and created and no one came. There have been times when I’ve set things up and no one showed up.

I can easily call back those feelings. At times, I still feel afraid of launching something new, sharing something I care about, or showing others my work. I’ve faced rejection countless times.

What’s often hurt most is feeling misunderstood and convincing myself that what I do isn’t actually useful to anyone. But, today, I’m sure that my values have been misplaced when it comes to this. My assumptions have been inaccurate.

I’m not here to share my light in order to receive validation. I’m not here to be the biggest change this world has ever seen. I wasn’t purposed to create just so others can show up and say: “Wow, that was just what I needed.”

To be honest, I don’t fully know why I’m here. But, what I do know is that there’s power in continuing to create, show up, and put out the best work that I can. Consistency got me to today. Consistency had me up at night writing this message to you. Consistency is what has made me a better husband, friend, writer, performer, supervisor, colleague, practitioner, speaker, Christian, human.

Not perfection. I’m wholly imperfect. Not fame. It’s fleeting.

Consistency: showing up again and again because all of this means something to someone, and it’s all so much bigger than me, and so much bigger than you. 

It’s worth it because at least one person will come across what I’ve made, what I’ve let flow through me, and will benefit from it. All that you’ve been given, all that you’ve worked for, and all that you have, isn’t just for you.

If you’ve been hiding the parts of you that could potentially be a gift to someone else, I encourage to set aside a few minutes and consider the following prompts:

 

  • What if my work – though rough, unfinished, incomplete – could help someone else?
  • What if all the bad that was said about what I create was only part of the story? What if there’s some good they missed?
  • What if I’m keeping a blessing/gift/invitation from someone else who needs it by holding back what I have to give?
  • Am I waiting too long for this thing to be perfect? 
  • What permission do I need to just push this out and see where it lands, fail, and try again? 

If you want to process this with someone, you know I’m here. You can reach out to me anytime.

I also encourage you to reach out to someone who does the work you do or makes the thing you make or is on the path you’re on. See what they have to say. Challenge yourself to open your heart a little and share something real. Then, actually listen.

This is what was on my heart today. I’m glad I didn’t hide it.

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Why It’s Okay If You Didn’t Crush It Today

Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba

I’m a busy-body and a worrier.

I make to-do list and itineraries when I’m on vacation. I have the magical ability to turn something fun into a character building activity. I ask for more responsibility even when my plate is full.

Yes, it’s as frustrating as it sounds – for anyone involved.

Here are some potential reasons I’m like this:

  • I don’t want to miss out on anything.
  • I don’t want to waste this energy I have.
  • The story I often tell myself is that my day doesn’t count unless I get a lot done.

But, if I’m being real about it, the deeper story I tell myself is that my life only counts if I get a lot done. Somewhere along the way, I internalized this idea that my output is directly tied to my worth. I’m only deserving of love and appreciation if I’ve earned it. It’s not enough for me to just be.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who thinks like this.

Still, it’s so much pressure and it’s not at all realistic. We don’t have unlimited energy. Our bodies need rest.

We live in a time where we have the resources to do more with less. We see others accomplishing great things and and we tell ourselves:“You and (insert name of anyone you compare yourself to) have the same 24 hours in a day. Why aren’t you doing more with your life!?!”

Um. Rude!

What if I just want to be me today? What if I’m tired and exhausted from being in this body that carries hurt, joy, excitement, secrets, fears, trauma, history?

We don’t give ourselves enough credit for enduring all that living requires. It takes so much to simply exist. If we accounted for all the times in a day where we had to ignore something, let go of something, forgive something, tolerate something, we’d have a more accurate picture of what life really is at times: really freaking difficult.

So, I’m thinking that it’s okay if you and I don’t crush it today. It’s okay if we just arrive to where we’re headed.

I’m not going to lie, the achiever in me is like: “Dude, you’re setting the bar low.”

But, if the bar is always high, we won’t have the energy when we’re called to be 100% for the opportunities that truly matter to us.

Everything can’t be important. Some things need to wait.

Taking care of yourself can’t wait.


Share Your Truth + Comment Below

 What’s something that came up for you while reading today’s message?

 

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Dear People Pleaser: In Case You Forgot What You’re Worth

When I was younger, I had these friends who had a proclivity for making me the center of their harsh jokes.

The teasing was light at first, but one day it escalated. It was bad – like real bad. They did things that humiliated me, embarrassed me, made me feel small, and scarred me for a long time. 

I wish I could say I stopped hanging out with them. But, I kept attending sleep overs, trusting them with private information, and letting them into my heart. They kept breaking it.

It was confusing.

Sometimes things would be great. We’d have fun, talk about dating, listen to music, play basketball, and enjoy our youth.

But, there were times that were just…heavy. Times where I should have walked away.

I didn’t have a lot of friends during those years. I was called a loser. I was the annoying kid. The teacher’s pet. The fat kid. The one of three Black kids in my grade at any given time. I was an outsider. It felt like a privilege to be part of something, even at the expense of my self-worth and dignity.

I think I held onto toxic relationships because I felt like I didn’t deserve better. I felt like better wasn’t coming. I took what I could get.

So many of us settle, compromise our values, and struggle to set healthy boundaries.

When was the last time you took on extra work just avoid confrontation?

When was the last time you agreed to meet up with someone, even though you knew you wanted to stay in bed and rest?

When was the last time you suppressed your beliefs and values, because you didn’t want to upset anyone?

Lock that moment in for a sec.

Did you like who you were in those moments? What were you protecting? What did it feel like afterwards?

It makes sense that we let somethings go. We learn to pick our battles. But, that’s not what I’m saying to you today. Today is about the danger letting things slide a little too much. The danger is us losing ourselves in someone else’s insecurity, myopia, or indifference.

It’s about our propensity to put ourselves last. It’s about looking at the mirror, and telling the person we see: “You don’t matter enough. You don’t deserve more.” OR “Give them whatever they want. Stay safe.” 

My friend, you do matter. You deserve more. You get to take breaks, say NO to things, turn down invitations, speak up for yourself, break up, move away, move on. 

But, it’s not always easy. Sometimes we’re in complicated situations.

Sometimes we feel like our jobs are on the line. Sometimes we’re worried we’ll lose friends, family members, and significant others if we choose ourselves. Sometimes it’s much worse and layered than that.

Your fears are valid. No one can judge your circumstances.

We have to do what makes sense for us. My hope is that we can move through our lives with the understanding that we have worth and we have value.

I’ll say that again.

You have worth and you have value.

This means:

  • No one gets to walk all over you.
  • No one gets to use you.
  • No one gets to pile all their responsibilities onto you.

But, sometimes, it really feels like others get a free pass to do all these things.

A lot of us are out here struggling.

..

I reached out on Twitter and asked folks to share personal stories of people-pleasing. As you’ll see, our experiences are varied, but still connected. I wanted to show you that you’re not alone in this battle, by highlighting others who are figuring their way through life as well.

Here’s what was shared.

“[For me it’s] saying sorry to everything for absolutely no reason. It’s predominantly workplace related for me…because of my role as an Executive Assistant. Being the lowest man on the totem pole means you take a lot of the blame, so it’s almost become second nature to just apologize for things even though it may have nothing to do with me. Also, deep down, my teenage self wants to come out and cuss everyone out, but that will obviously not fly in a work environment, so I go in the complete opposite direction to ensure I stay in everyone’s good graces, which equates to job security.
– Anonymous 

 

“One of the hardest things for me when it comes to my need to please people/have people like me is getting over the fear of disappointment if I don’t live up to their expectations. I find myself saying “yes” to everything and putting others’ needs before my own until I’m worn thin and reach a breaking point. It’s an issue I’m aware of, but definitely struggling to work through.”
– Liz K. from St. Louis

“I struggle daily to find my voice because I don’t like confrontation.  I’m not good at standing up for myself or making a good argument for what I believe in.  I feel like everyone is smarter than me and I can’t find my words. I have BA and Master’s degrees.  I’m just not equipped in being self advocating. Fear of looking foolish cripples me.”
– Anonymous 

“When I think of any form of people pleasing I can trace back the behavior, thinking pattern or emotions down to this core issues of mine. The first being abandonment which most often presents its self in a form of worry or fear for me. For others I’m sure its very individual and personal to them just as it is to me but it is “NOT” unique. Countless people before us and countless after us will experience many if not most of the things that come from our decisions to ‘people please’.”
– Anonymous 

“Saying no.” 
– Kim D

“Twenty-nine years ago I joined 12-step recovery for a drug and alcohol problem. At the same time I attended meetings of CODA (Codependents Anonymous) because it was so clear that relationships were the heart of my issue. I know a lot of people call it “people pleasing,” but I don’t, because my biggest and most life-changing observation is that no one ever seems to end up genuinely pleased. The other thing I learned is that I really wanted to love and care for myself. But, somehow blocked inside from doing that, I loved and cared for others to an extreme degree, hoping they would return the same. But it was not unconditional love, and I think that shone through. I’m not for a moment suggesting I have completely conquered the issue, but I do care for myself directly, which means I can usually be giving to others without any strings or expectations. And that’s a great start.”
– Catherine Ryan Hyde

“People pleasing always comes back to self seeking behavior. If I’m always saying yes, it’s not just about me having the inability to say how I really feel. But, it comes down to me wanting this person to think I’m a ‘good guy’ or at my job they’ll think i’m the best employee. Like, it’s self centered because if I can’t say no I’m saying yes In hopes of people putting me on a pedestal. Most of the time it’s subconsciously too. It’s taken real dissecting of thoughts and behavior to see that the majority of the time. Deep down I don’t want to do what I’m saying yes to- when I’m people pleasing.”
– Taylor G.

We can find ourselves saying yes to everything, because we fear the consequences of saying no. Let’s not forget that we get to set boundaries, and if someone doesn’t respect that, they’re not healthy for us.

We can really spend our entire lives waiting for the approval of people who might never give us the “Good job!” or the “Well done!” we want from them. Let’s not forget the people who already love and accept us without having to do anything spectacular.

We can spend our time giving all of ourselves to people who don’t deserve us. Let’s not forget that we get to enjoy life too, and it’s okay to be selfish and practice self-care.

I want you to know that this is a journey. I still struggle to speak up at times, distance myself from toxic relationships, and turn down things I know I don’t want to do. But, I’m learning and growing. So are you.

If you identify with anything in today’s message, there’s no shame in that. You know your story. You know what you have to deal with everyday.

I hope you get to reclaim some of your time, peace, and life.

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For Anyone Else Desperately Trying to Figure Out Their Purpose in Life

According to Google, the definition of purpose is: “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”

So, when someone asks us: “Hey, uhhh, what’s your purpose in life?” They’re asking us why we exist?

Whew.

When I was a child, I had a close family member who’d repeatedly confront me with similar questions but from a place of anger and intimidation. They’d ask 9-year-old me: “Why are you even here? What do you do around here? Nothing. You do nothing!” They knew how to break me down. I felt like I was always making mistakes and feeling I wasn’t good enough. I internalized those thoughts, and part of me is still struggling to come up with a good response.

But I’m healing.

And, I’ve come a long long way. I bet you have too.

Maybe you’ve had some bullies in your life. Maybe someone has made you feel like less without even meaning to, but you still question your impact, your meaning, your reason for being. Am I doing enough?

Maybe you saw a groundbreaking TED talk, or you heard the news about an amazing child prodigy, or your friend told you about someone who has this really cool start-up. What am I even doing with my life?

Perhaps, you’ve found yourself scrolling on social media late at a night and feeling like everyone but you is living their best lives.

Or maybe you go deeper with it and ask yourself: “Is there even a reason for me to be here? Do I even have a purpose? And if I don’t, what’s that mean about my existence.”

A lot of us end up here. You’re not alone. 

We spiral and find ourselves viewing our lives as meaningless and worthless because we aren’t doing what others are doing. We internally berate ourselves for not accomplishing what we could be accomplishing based on our qualifications, ability, privilege, network, or training.

We convince ourselves that we don’t measure up.

We tell ourselves that we’ll matter more when we get the job, the spouse, the money, the degree, the _____.

Sadly, our self-worth can often be completely tied up in everything we don’t have and everything we feel like we’re not.

We can find ourselves in the happiest experiences of our lives (like truly thriving), only to be swept under the waves of self-doubt and misery moments later, when we realize we don’t have ourselves all figured out yet. Or when we hastily push ahead and set another goal to accomplish. Or when we realize that some parts of us are still broken.

But, here’s the truth of it: all of us have brokenness. All of us have doubt. All of us have shame. And still, our lives have meaning.

Each of us has the capacity to add something to the communities we live in, the churches we’re a part of, the families we care for, the schools we attend, and the strangers we meet. We can make all those places a little better. Often we’re doing this by simply showing up and being ourselves – our clumsy, unsure, brilliant, zestful, intelligent selves.

Yes, I’m still talking about you and me.

Photo of person of color standing near wall. Grafiti is on wall. Person of color is wearing a blue jacket.
Photo by Michael Afonso on Unsplash

I think we get to break up the concept of purpose into smaller and more realistic pieces. Instead of asking: “Why am I here?” ask yourself about what you enjoy, what breaks your heart, who has thanked you recently about something you did for them, what you’re good at – like naturally good at, or what you work hard at even though you don’t get paid for it.

Ask yourself about what you’ve made it through. Ask yourself about how resilient you’ve been. Ask yourself about the things no one can ever take from you.

What excites you – or what used to? What do you care about – even if others don’t find it the least bit interesting.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about these questions, and here’s what I came up with.

Pieces of my purpose: To be a kind, good, and caring husband. To be a supportive older brother and supportive to others in my family. To be a solid and dependable friend. It breaks my heart to know that others are struggling in silence with mental illness. I find myself thinking of ways to help others take better care of themselves – this keeps me up at night.  I also find myself thinking of ways to create community with other black men around issues of health and wellness, because so many of us are dying and suffering from preventable issues. I enjoy doing improv, writing, connecting with people, dancing, and bringing people together. If I wasn’t afraid, I would go all in on my dreams – I’m getting closer. Even at my lowest points, my worst moments, my biggest failures, I am still loved. I wholeheartedly believe part of my reason for being on this earth is to share God’s light with others through my work. I’ve often struggled to communicate this, because I feel like saying I’m a Christian and I love doing the work of the Lord turns others off, but it’s who I am. So here it is: I love Jesus. And if you don’t, I’m cool with that, and I still love you and celebrate you and think you get to have the big wondrous life you want to live. I find that leading and living from my heart makes all the different. It’s about love for me. That’s the big picture. Lastly, I believe I’ve had a positive impact on the lives of many just by showing up and being kind.

And, there’s so much more to me.

There’s so much more to you.

If you’re struggling to get unstuck from feeling like you have to have your entire life figured out today, I encourage you to pause, take a deep breath, and find some time to reflect on the topic of purpose in a different way. Remember to break it up.

 

Here are some questions to ask yourself this week, as you dig into this topic a little more. 
I don’t suggest trying to respond to every one, it’s not a test. See which question tugs at you the most, kicks up stuff for you the most, or just feels most salient for you right now.

  • What issue or idea has been keeping me up at night?
  • What’s been breaking my heart?
  • What am I already doing that has a positive impact on the lives of others – if only a little?
  • What have my friends, family, or strangers thanked me for lately? 
  • What would I create, add to, join, or show up for if I had the resources and wasn’t afraid?
  • What have I been hesitant to tell others about who I am and what I believe? 

Oh, and I just gotta say this. Sometimes, we need to put down the journal, and get out, do something, and shake things up. I’ve personally found that taking action is a healthy way to move through the anxiety of trying to figure out ALL THE THINGS. This means signing up to volunteer service, joining a book club, attending a free lecture at a nearby college campus, or signing up for a workshop gets you out of your comfort zone. Thinking and reflection are necessary, and so is getting lost in experiences, meeting people you’ve never met, and doing things you never thought you could do.

Perhaps you won’t find the entire meaning for your life by doing this (you don’t need to), but you will learn something about yourself. You will take memories with you, and you will hopefully feel a little more alive.

You do not have to know your purpose in life to have meaning on this earth.

You don’t even have to be living on purpose to be belong here.

You already belong, and you’re already enough just because of the fact that you’re living and breathing. Those are the prerequisites. Live. Breathe.

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Have you heard of Sinclair.ity? I send emails to wonderful and amazing people every single week. I do this because I appreciate it when someone speaks their truth. If you can use some real talk in your life each Monday, visit the sign up pageThank you for being you.

Why Transitions are the Worst and What to Do About It

Goodbyes suck.

I hate the feeling of leaving someone, something behind. I’m not a fan of leaving my bed in the morning. And don’t get me started on season finales – I’m a mess.

The space between the familiar and the unknown feels unnerving. You know?

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I’ve moved a ton of times in my life, and often, the most challenging part is not knowing what my new home will be like. Who will I befriend? How will I deal with the inevitable loneliness?  Will I find a favorite spot to eat again? 

As we prepare to enter another graduation season, crawl through the not-so-evident shift from winter to spring, and struggle with embracing the flux of life, I cannot help but think of transition today.

Transitions bring about a certain flavor of uncertainty. It can feel like there’s this invisible force pushing us toward something uncomfortable. At times, we get fixated on the worst possible outcome.

My therapist taught me to interrupt my anxious thinking with thoughts like: “What if things work out” and “What if all my hard work pays off?” 

So, I’m passing that onto you wherever you are, whatever you’re leaving, or whomever you’re becoming.

Consider the notion that things might actually work out. This isn’t an exercise in empty optimism. Bring your full self to the most hopeful space you can. Imagine that this pending change might bring good with it.

The other side of this upcoming transition could be exactly what you’ve been needing.

It’s scary. But, there’s a lesson waiting for you when you arrive.

Take hope with you. Always.

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Photo of a lion.

Your Words Hold Power

“Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind–even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants.” —Maggie Kuhn

 

Your words hold power. They do. Think about how impactful words told to you as a child were. Consider the stinging insults from the playground bully. Or, the advice from the family member who made you feel invincible.

Words hold power. Your words hold power.

And yet, how often are we called to use our words before we feel ready? How often are we called to speak up when no one else seems to care?  Our words still matter. They matter when we stutter. They matter when we overthink them before saying anything.

At times, unspoken words can have the greatest impact. They can do the most violence.

Your words matter.

You might be in a situation right now where you’re doubting yourself. Imposter syndrome has crept back in.

You’re being asked to present, teach, or proclaim, and you’re thinking: “They have the wrong person. I’m not ready for this. I’m not right for this.”  Let me tell you something: you were called to the table for a reason. You are right for this. Someone saw brilliance, answers, and better questions in you.

It’s your time to say what needs to be said. Offer up your opinions. Challenge the status quo. Say what only you can say: your truth. Don’t settle.

I know, it’s scary to be impeccable with our words. It can be frightening to tell others what we’re really thinking. What if we give them something to use against us in the future?

What if?

What if you say something that could help shift someone else’s story? What if your words are the difference between joy and pain for the person you didn’t even know was listening?  What if your words could liberate?

They can. They have. They will.

Speak up.

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New Year, New You: Putting Positivity to Work in 2016

Originally published in MACUHO MagazineWritten by Debbie Scheibler and Sinclair Ceasar 

New Year’s Resolutions. It seems that everybody’s got one. However, most of us break them within a few weeks into the New Year. Why is that? Is it that we set unattainable goals? Is adhering to our goals too difficult? Perhaps it’s because they aren’t necessarily fun (I mean, come on, who wants to wake up at 5am or give up bread)? Whatever the reason, many of us quickly lose steam on the resolutions that we set forth for ourselves. As the start of 2016 is upon us, we challenge each of you to set one personal resolution within yourself to up the positivity in your life; make this a gift for yourself that can last the whole year long.

Choose Your Attitude

Much like the trusty old FISH! Philosophy says, YOU make the choice everyday for how you will show up. Don’t blame the weather, the economy, or the wrong side of the bed. You choose how you want to experience the world. We suggest and encourage that you choose to be thankful for the air in your lungs, the brains in your head, and the shoes on your feet. Think of the example you can set by wearing a smile and having a great attitude.

Acknowledge the Work of Others

Nothing makes an employee feel more valued as when they are acknowledged. If you are a supervisor let your team know that you see their efforts, and make note of them when they do an exceptionally good job. We suggest using a variety of methods to show appreciation, and to be mindful of personal preferences (verbal, written, etc.) Having you role model this gratitude could impact your office and, if you’re have a high stress/low morale office, it might help change the dynamic of your department to one of appreciation and support.

Say Thank You

Similar to acknowledging the work of those within your office, saying “thank you” to folks you encounter spreads the positivity outside of the office. Say thanks for those who open a door for you, holds the elevator a few extra seconds, or bless you when you sneeze. The key is to be genuine, make eye contact, and let the gratitude sink in.

Practice Civility

You’re probably wondering what civility has to do with positivity. In our world today (and that has been made even more evident by the global and local events in recent weeks) we come across disagreements, misunderstandings and anger on almost a daily basis. Civility challenges each of us to honor and respect the difference of others while still remaining true to ourselves. When you’re faced with something you don’t agree with or don’t understand, we encourage you to approach the conversation with an open-mind and the willingness to listen before reacting. You don’t have to agree, but you should try to seek understanding.

Treat Yo Self

None of this will matter if you don’t take care of yourself. Start a new hobby. Take a class. Join a running club. Learn sign language. Start that blog you’ve been thinking about. Let 2016 be the year where you take some time for yourself each day. It doesn’t have to be long, even in 30 minutes you can dramatically improve your stress levels, your health and may even open new professional (or side hustle) doors for you.

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Debbie Scheibler is the Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life at Rutgers University- Camden. She oversees the Residential Life curriculum, on-campus student conduct, and is a Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Debbie is a former faculty member for the Regional Entry-Level Institute (RELI) and a James C. Grimm National Housing Training Institute (NHTI) graduate. Debbie currently serves on the Executive Board of the Mid-Atlantic Association of College and University Housing Officers (MACUHO) in the role of Director of Annual Programs.Connect with her on Twitter @DebbieScheibler

How to Motivate People You’ve Never Met

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My search for a full time job several years ago was miserable. I was stressed, strained, and still had to work. Ya’ll know how real those grad positions can get. Then came the the two placement exchanges I attended. They did nothing to calm my nerves. I was a hot mess. What helped?

For one, getting a motivational message from @ResLifePuppy. It was a simple, uplifting message that kept me going. At some point I decided to give back in my own way. I reached out to other Student Affairs current/future professionals and offered to send them personalized emails. This thing took off. I’ve sent over 200 emails as of today.

Click here to sign up, if you’re interested.

Here are a few things that have helped make this ongoing project a success: 

  1. We’re Not So Different – The job search can suck. I know this. You know this. So, I took this common struggle and decided to do something about it: leverage genuine positivity and the power of email to make the search process a little less painful.
  2. Keep it Simple – When people are facing a problem, they don’t want more work to do. One thing that’s helped with my various kindness projects is simplicity and a clear call to action. This involves creating a simple Google form, designing an eye-catching logo, and posting the project in the midst of an captive audience. Then comes the waiting. Fortunately, folks have been receptive in various social media circles.
  3. Mean It – This the best piece of advice I can give anyone when trying to motivate others. Don’t be fake – as some of my students would say. Tell people what you’re offering and let them know a piece of your story. Let your story speak through the work you do. I care about others in their search process. I think our field is full of skilled people and fantastic positions. Why should they have to feel miserable when seeking other opportunities? The majority of people who signed up for the project, indicated that waiting to hear back from employers is the most stressful part of the search for them. Interviewing came in second. It makes me happy to know that I can be a part of making their waiting time a little sweeter.
  4. Follow Up – The #SASearch Motivation project began in November 2015. Emails went out shortly after. Today, I followed up with all participants to do a check in and to see if they wanted to continue receiving emails. Following up is especially important when it comes to being someone’s personal cheerleader. It’s not enough to tell someone: You Got This. You need to be there when they feel like they don’t have it, and discover how you can be a resource. That’s showing care.
  5. Say Thank You – Each person that reaches out for inspiration and a boost of morale, has – in a sense – invited me into something personal. They take the leap to trust me, be vulnerable, and take in my advice. They don’t have to do this. It’s special when they do. And it’s important to always show gratitude to those who reach out to me.

So, how can I make your search process a little better? Sign up here or drop me an email at sceasar1@gmail.com

 

How We Made Positivity Go Viral

One hot summer day in 2015, Jessica Hurtt (JHurtt) told me about an organization called The World Needs More Love Letters. Basically, they encouraged people to write letters to others in need of genuine kindness and inspiration. Let’s bring this to our campus, Sinclair, JHurtt concluded. You should know that her positivity is magnetic.

We were excited and got to work. Soon, we were cleared to do the project and called it Notes of Kindness. Our fees were low (keep reading to see how to duplicate this at your institution) and a few core students were on board to help us get started. We gathered markers, blank greeting cards, and envelopes around the office. Then we made simple notes that said things like “You belong” or other thoughtful words.

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We personalized them and sent them to faculty, staff, administrators, and students and called it a day. Every note was anonymous and stayed that way during the entire project. We agreed that writing the notes felt natural and so darn good to do. Our next phase: Going Campus Wide.

You should know that I had a hard time being anonymous with my notes. Thankfully, a student and I had a good talk about humility and goals. I began signing my notes: From Someone Who Cares. Let’s just say my  ego was all like: really tho?!?! 

I sent an email to the entire campus which included a link to a sign-up form. The best subject line was: Want an uplifting note in your campus mailbox? In addition to capturing basic identifying information, the form included the following prompts:

form questions

**Click here to see the entire form. 

Participants were also given the option to enter their birthday. They received this video during their birthday month. Just a little extra to make things interesting.

If you’re putting two and two together, you’ll notice that the students powered this project. Getting their interest and investment early on made it what it was. At some point, we recruited Top Secret Letter Writers. About 30 people signed up to stop by my office at any time to write notes to people on the recipient list. Then we kicked the project up another notch. We hosted letter writing parties! 

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During the parties, we wrote letters to 4 – 5 people. Each recipient received their own Bundle of Kindness (a bundle contained 15-20 heartfelt notes). The notes ended up being longer because the writers were given a prompt about the person receiving the bundle. The bundles were delivered to relatives of the Mount community who were in real need of encouragement due to sickness or a death in the family. Seeing so many students take time out of their evening was powerful stuff. The second letter party was all about students nominating other students for bundles. In all, over 40 students were nominated and four were chosen. Their stories ranged everywhere from one student losing their home, to a student who was always giving to others but never kind to themselves.

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**Each note writer had access to this. It contained instructions, writing prompts, and rules for the project. Click here to see it.

From July 2015 to December 2015, our Notes of Kindness team wrote 300+ notes! People would thank me, but I’d tell them that the students wrote most of the notes. And that’s all true. One of the most touching aspects of this project was the student who came to our office every single day for three straight weeks. I took the opportunity to get to know them, and will forever be grateful from all I learned from them. They are truly amazing.

Make Positivity Go Viral on Your Campus

So there you have it. Positivity went viral on our Mount campus. Here are three quick tips to get this project started where you are:

  1. Inexpensive and Fast – This doesn’t mean to rush and put in minimal effort. The advice here is to get started today and not break the bank. Don’t overthink it. Who do you want to reach and what’s the simplest way to make that happen?  Eventually, I received funding for the project once my supervisor noticed that this was moving. But, the more creative you are the better. I ended up ordering these note cards and envelopes (EXCELLENT DEAL) and we used these Sharpie markers and these labels to seal the envelopes.
  2. Google Forms – If you’ve never used this before, it is super user-friendly, helpful when organizing recipient list on the back-end, and customizable.
  3. Sign, Sealed, Delievered – All of our correspondence was sent through university campus mail. I had a great conversations with our staff in the mail room before we began the project. While I secretly knew we wanted the entire campus to begin writing each other good ol’ snail mail, I made sure to respect our delivery system and the hard people fueling it. Word to the wise: make sure to screen every note before it’s sealed. You don’t want anything damaging being delivered.

Never doubt what a fantastic of group of loving people can make happen. Hmm..I need to wipe some tears of my face.

Now I know something is missing from this article. I’m imperfect. So, email me at sceasar1@gmail.com or comment below with any questions. I’d love to be a resource to you and help you get started. 

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2015 In Review

Huge shoutout to the folks at WordPress.com for putting my stats together from the year. In short, A LOT of awesome folks (like you) took time to visit The SA Pro Next Door and read my articles. I am overwhelmed with joy about this. I can’t wait to share more honest and vulnerable posts with you. Next steps: teaching others how to blog and publish online. 

2016, hello from the other side…it’s gonna be one heck of a ride. 

 

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.