What Christmas Doesn’t Mean to Me and My Plan for the New Year

What Christmas Doesn’t Mean to Me and My Plan for the New Year

I’m certain that the majority of the blogs you’re following right now are talking about Christmas and New Year’s and reflections in 2020.  While I think we can all agree that the label “dumpster fire” is pretty fitting for 2020, I want to share a couple of lessons I’ve learned only recently as well as my plan for 2021.  First, a quick disclaimer, some of this episode may be triggering for you, and know that these are my thoughts and opinions which you may not share and that’s completely ok.  Having said that, let’s jump in.

With COVID-19 cases still on the rise, Chad and I made the tough decision to stay home for Christmas.  This brought out the emotional big guns for everyone involved ranging from disappointment to anger to understanding.  In the last month, I’ve had several family members and friends test positive – one of which passed away the week of Thanksgiving – and so we figured if there was ever a year to stay put, it’s this one.  Honestly, I have to admit that a big part of me feels relieved that we are staying home because it’s taken the pressure off having to appease everyone.  There have been several years where Chad and I have attended between 7 and 9 different Christmas gatherings and I know this is not uncommon for a lot of families.  Especially when you have divorced parents or grandparents.

Since we aren’t traveling and still want our time together to feel special, I came up with a list of possible Christmas plans.  Admittedly, most of it revolves around food but all that means is we will have a great many leftovers for the days that follow.  We’re going to make monkey bread for Christmas Eve breakfast, king crab legs and filet for dinner, better swim biscuits and gravy for Christmas morning breakfast, and shrimp and salmon for dinner.  BTW, if you haven’t tried better swim biscuits, here’s the recipe, trust me, they will change your life!  We’re also going to make some candy, watch a plethora of movies, work on a puzzle, play video games, and go for a couple of walks.  Oh!  And we’ll do all of this while wearing our Christmas jammies.

I know there are many of you who want nothing more than to spend the holidays with your families because you love being together and they are a joy to be around.  It’s easy, relaxing, and full of fun.  And for that, you are truly blessed.  I also know there are many of you who are weighed down by the anxiety that comes with the holidays.  Last Friday, I was interrogated by a former lawyer/law professor friend of mine about what Christmas means to me.  And I have to tell you that being blindsided by the question I panicked and my answer was slightly rage-filled.  Ok, it was totally rage-filled.  Here’s what I said.  “It’s easier to answer the question by telling you what I think Christmas is not about – it’s not about every family member getting a new vehicle, it’s not about everyone getting a new gaming console.  It’s not about racking up massive amounts of debt just so you can “give your kids a good Christmas.”  It’s not supposed to be filled full of obligations that you had no choice in making nor want to participate.  It’s not about spending time with family members who make you feel bad about yourself or who just really don’t like you.

If you’ve been waiting for someone to validate your feelings and/or give you permission to just say no, here it is.  Honestly, you don’t need my permission nor anyone else’s in order to take care of yourself and your mental health.  Nor do you need my permission to make decisions for your family.  What I do want you to consider though is that just because someone shares DNA with you doesn’t mean you owe them anything.  There are many people in the world whose families are not blood relatives.  Have you ever had a family member try to guilt you into doing something you don’t want to do because “blood is thicker than water?”  Well, people have been misquoting that for years.  The actual quote is “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” The meaning of this saying is actually the opposite of the way we use it. The saying actually means that bonds that you’ve made by choice are more important than the people that you are bound to by the water of the womb. The saying reflects the fact that the bonds you choose for yourself can mean much more than the ones you don’t have much say in.  So the next time someone tries that out on you, you can let them know that actually, that’s not true.

Whew!  That felt like a big ol’ brain dump if I’ve ever heard one.  It may seem like I completely hate Christmas but don’t get me wrong.  I don’t.  I just hate how the holidays can bring so many folks so much stress and anxiety and for what?  If you are one of those people, my advice to you is to sit this one out.  Global pandemic aside, you don’t have to spend your holidays with anyone you don’t want to.  And, you don’t have to give anyone full disclosure that you don’t want to.  I simple, “thank you for the invitation but we’re not going to be able to make it this year” will suffice.  Let’s move on to New Years!

First of all, I want to share with you this Irish New Year’s Eve tradition that I came across.  I have no idea if it’s actually true, but I think it’s awesome anyway.  Supposedly, at the stroke of Midnight, they open their front doors as a way to let the old year out and the new year in.  I freaking love the symbolism of this!  In fact, I may just open every single door and window in my house to make sure that 2020 has left for good!  Second, I’ve been really thinking about my personal growth for the upcoming year and how to be more intentional with my time.  I don’t know about you, but after the shitshow that was 2020, I’m so ready to move on.  It seems like at least once a week I tell Chad that we watch entirely too much television and it wouldn’t hurt us to read more books.  So that’s what I’m doing.  I have rekindled my romance with the library and have been checking out books and actually reading them.  I’ve set a goal for myself to read 50 books in 2021 – I know, I know, that’s pretty lofty but when I think about how much time I spend in front of the TV I think I can accomplish it.  So if you have any book recommendations I’d love to hear them!  Next, I spend a lot of time helping others figure things out and so 2021 is the year for me to spend some time on myself trying to figure things out in my own life.  Things like, what brings me joy?  What doesn’t?  And finding ways to be in a deeper relationship with God.  As I’ve mentioned in previous episodes, I’m a big fan of therapy and I will continue on that journey for the foreseeable future.  It has truly been so helpful these past 5 months.  Let’s be clear, therapy is not for the faint of heart – it requires a lot of self-reflection and the digging up of past experiences and trauma which can be draining in the moment but ultimately empowering.  And the last thing I want to share about the upcoming year is the pivot I’m making in my business.

I think I mentioned a couple of episodes ago that I was considering changing the name of this blog/podcast.  I came to this decision after working with a personal brand coach who told me that the word “adulting” is just too vague because it can mean different things to different people.  While this was something I hadn’t considered before, I totally get it.  Plus, no one in real life calls me CJ, aside from some of my former students so that just doesn’t make sense either.  A while back I reached out to a few folks who know me best and asked them to give me ten words that best describe me and the most common phrase was “gets shit done.” So, I’m leaning toward Getting Shit Done with Kamron.  Haven’t totally decided on that yet, but I’m really digging it, and here’s why.

In 2021 I am offering my services to those nonprofit leaders and other entrepreneurs who are stuck in their businesses and need help with administrative tasks, which they need in order to grow.  I will do one-on-one coaching, intensive training of their newly hired admins or support staff, or for those who haven’t hired anyone yet, I will set up a personalized system that they can hand off to whomever that person may be.  In other words, I’m helping them get shit done so I thought it was only fitting for my show to be called that as well.  One thing I learned in 2020 is that I cannot produce this blog weekly, so I’m moving to releasing episodes every other week.  Some of the upcoming topics include why routines are a good thing, how to ask for help, and my top 5 tools for getting organized.

Finally, I want to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed having you all as readers.  I appreciate every one of you who has left ratings and reviews and I hope you’ve been able to take away some pearls from these last 26 episodes.  My original word for 2020 was momentum, but I really think it ended up being metamorphosis because I’ve grown much more in this year than ever before.  And I believe that has happened in part through the love and support you have shown me.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you for coming on this journey with me.  I hope that you can find some comfort and peace during this chaotic time of year and I love you all.

What to Expect at Your First Mammogram

What to Expect at Your First Mammogram

Today, I want to share my first mammogram experience with you and what you can expect on your visit.

In case you didn’t know, women 40 and over should begin screening mammograms once a year, unless they’ve had a family history of breast cancer or tested positive for the BRCA gene in which case your doctor will suggest you start getting mammograms earlier than 40.  Screening mammograms are just that, a screening of your breast tissue.  Should those images come back with something troubling, then you’ll have a diagnostic mammogram done to take a different look.

In my case, I chose to go to a diagnostic imaging center, meaning they do all sorts of screenings.  However, you may feel more comfortable going to a breast care clinic – they still do the same testing, but they only do breasts as opposed to all body parts.  Regardless of where you go, you want to choose a place where the employees are concerned about you as the patient rather than their bottom line.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Diagnostic Imaging Center prepared me before my visit.  They gave me a list of dos and don’ts as well as a video of what to expect.  For example, you should not wear deodorants or lotions the day of your scans because they look for calcium deposits and certain deodorants and lotions can skew the images.  They also suggested wearing upper body clothing that is easily disrobed.  The most important piece of advice, however, was to stay as relaxed as possible.

As you may have figured out by now, I tend to do most things in life through the lens of humor.  Laughter is the best medicine as they say.  I also tend to use humor to disarm people in tense or stressful situations.  Sometimes, all everyone needs is a good laugh.  So they took me back to a room where I locked up my personal belongings, changed into an upper body gown, and away we went.  The woman responsible for me was amazing.  She was very patient and answered my 10,000 questions.  She explained to me exactly what she was going to do, how the machine worked, and that she would be taking a total of four images, two on each side.  The most important advice she had was to breathe and stay as relaxed as possible.  She said that the more relaxed I was the easier it would be to get my placement just right in the machine which would make for the best scans possible.  My first instruction was to do something with my arm from the gown and I was like, can I just take it off?  I mean, the woman sees boobs all day long and I’m not shy.  So why wrestle with the gown thing when it’s just easier for everyone to be bare?  We get going and she’s telling me how to hold my arms and where to look so I don’t smack my forehead into the plexiglass and then she tells me a pretty good story about how one day she was placing a woman and somehow the woman moved, and she slipped and smacked the lady’s boob with the side of her face.  She apologized to the woman profusely and they both had a pretty good laugh about the whole deal.  All in a day’s work as a mammography tech, right?

You hear horror stories from women about how painful mammograms are, and maybe they were worse when technology wasn’t as good, but I didn’t feel any pain whatsoever with mine.  Pressure, yes.  Pain, no.  Once the scans were done, I went back to the changing room and waited for the radiologist to read the results and report back to me.  Fortunately, everything looked great and the results were classified as benign.  They gave me a short report that included my breast tissue type, my lifetime risk of breast cancer as estimated by the Gail Model which takes into account factors such as the age of your first period, race, pregnancies, etc.  You want that percentage to be under 10% and mine was 11.1%. The reason for this is based on the fact that I have no babies and I’m taking HRT or hormone replacement therapy.  This is why it’s important to have mammograms done on a yearly basis starting at 40.  Because everything was normal, the doctors now have a baseline scan in case something ever comes back abnormal.  Plus, regular mammography helps detect early signs of developing breast cancer so you can treat it right away rather than it growing completely out of control.  What can you do if you are under 40?  Give yourself regular self-breast exams.  The best place to do this is in the shower and what you’re looking for is anything unusual, lumps, bumps, etc.  And make sure you’re checking in your armpits too.  When I was working for the American Cancer Society one thing I found amusing was that quite often, men are the ones finding irregularities in the breasts of women…for obvious reasons, right?  For a while, Hooters hosted events for men that taught them what lumps could feel like which I thought was a brilliant idea and I hope they are still hosting those.

In all seriousness, I know that body part screening is scary to a lot of people.  They think if they don’t get screened then they can’t find anything wrong.  I also know that many people don’t have insurance to cover preventative treatments.  However, there are many organizations out there that can help with the cost of preventative measures and many hospitals host free screening days during certain times of the year.  For example, a lot of places hold free skin cancer screenings in the month of May.  Plus, there are many local healthcare places that operate on a sliding scale that’s based on your income.  Why am I telling you all of this?  Because you really have no excuse to not get your yearly check-ups.  Trust me, your friends and family want you around for as long as possible so don’t let fear keep you from taking care of your health.  And like I always say, you have to be your own advocate for your health because no one is going to do it for you.  Get your questions answered, push back on your doctors, and make them see you as a person, not a statistic.  Or do what I’m about to do and break up with doctors who give you terrible advice or treat you terribly.  Obviously, I’m willing to let a bit of bedside manner fall to the wayside for a doctor who is highly intelligent.  However, there’s lacking bedside manners and then there’s straight-up jackwagon.  You don’t have time in your life for a jackwagon.  Doctors are humans and sometimes they need a little reminder that they are in fact humans, as are you.  And in case you didn’t know, if you ever come across a doctor, nurse, or any staff that behaves badly, you can always report them to the customer service department of the hospital they work for, and in cases of extremely inappropriate behavior, a lawyer.  For the most part, I believe that doctors go into medicine because they want to help people but just like everyone else, sometimes life circumstances get in the way and all they need is a little nudge to remind them what they are there to do.


A Look Ahead…

A Look Ahead…

Last week I celebrated my 40th birthday!  It’s funny, I had no problem turning 30 because I felt like people would start to take me more seriously and I was celebrating the fact that I survived my 20s considering all the really dumb things I did in that decade.  However, I’m not gonna’ lie, last night I was seriously mourning my 30s.  But then when I was on my morning walk, I started thinking about how it really does me no good to dwell on the past because I can’t change it.  And while there were some fun things that happened in my 30s like competing in my first quartet, joining a new chorus, and moving to a new city, there were also some really terrible things like two major surgeries that all but wrecked my body and a new virus that was introduced to the world that’s killed a ton of people.  So rather than have a pity party I’ve decided my time would be better spent looking to the future.  And in the words of Doc Brown in Back to the Future II, “no one’s future has been decided yet and it is what you make of it.” Today, I want to share with you some of the things I’m doing to ensure my future is as bright as I can make it.  After all, this is the blog about adulting, so might as well talk about what it means to “adult” at 40.

First, I’ve been seriously dreading getting a mammogram.  It’s probably going to suck, but there are worse things than getting your breasts smooshed…you know, like getting breast cancer.  But when you think about it, how amazing is it that we even have the technology to detect any sort of cancer cells?  Think about all of the women who died from breast cancer who didn’t even know it because they had no way of knowing.  In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer is 90% which is the average.  But when you look at the localized number, meaning it hasn’t spread outside the breast, is 99%!  I’d definitely call that a win. My mammogram is scheduled in two weeks so if you are 40 and over, you need to get yours and also remember to self-breast exams at least once a month.

Next, if you don’t know how I feel about skincare, you should go back and check out episode 6 of my podcast where I interview Casey Crocker, aka my sister, about all things skincare.  The short version is that if you do nothing else, wear your sunscreen!  I know it’s not something you really think about when you’re young, but trust me, sun damage takes years to show up.  I had some seriously bad burns when I was in my teens and twenties that I so wish I could go back and change because I’m just now starting to see the effects of sun damage on my face in the form of texture on my nose, and dark spots on my forehead.  And never, never, never, ever go to bed in your makeup.  This is a huge no-no and let’s be honest, completely gross.  Not only are you leaving dirt and other crap on your skin, but you’re also spreading it to your pillow as well.  If you’re experiencing breakouts, I’d start there.  For a place to find routines and product information, you can check out Casey’s Facebook group called Beauty, Skincare, Science & You.  If you’re taking a social media break, then I suggest checking out The Ordinary.  You can purchase what you need via Ulta, but I recommend checking out their actual website. They do a great job of explaining how everything works and they advise against buying all the products.  Also, everything is 23% off for the whole month of November!  And no, I’m not an affiliate, I just love their products because you know exactly what you’re getting and it’s extremely affordable.

Third on my list is therapy.  In previous articles, I’ve shared with you what it’s been like on my intuitive eating journey.  It all started when I got bad news about my blood pressure and ridiculously high cholesterol.  After reading the Intuitive Eating book and working through the workbook, I decided that it was time to actually hire a therapist who specializes in intuitive eating.  However, she’s been so much more than that.  I realized that my disordered eating had nothing to do with the types of foods I eat, but from the diet culture nonsense I’d been fed all my life as well as trauma from my past.  The hardest part is accepting that the intuitive eating process is non-linear, which can be extremely frustrating.  It’s not easy making a paradigm shift when all you’ve ever heard is how restriction is the only way to be healthy.  Therapy is not for the faint of heart because it gets ugly some days. It’s difficult to drudge up past trauma, but I truly feel like it’s the only way to heal the past in order to make better choices for the future.  Plus, let’s be honest, 2020 has been a dumpster fire of epic proportions so if you’ve been contemplating seeing a therapist, I highly recommend it because it works and because your mental health is vital to achieving all over health.

Next on the list is about finances.  If you take nothing else away from this post, take this.  It is never too late to start saving for retirement.  Set a monthly budget and start with the 10/10/80 rule, which is how to break down your paycheck.  10% to charity, 10% to savings, 80% to live on.  Start contributing to your 401k if your company allows for it.  Find ways to pay down debt – I’m a huge supporter of the Dave Ramsey method and you can watch his stuff for free on YouTube.  Hire a financial planner who will help take you through the paces of wealth-building.  There are a number of ways to control your money rather than it controlling you.  And remember, money is like food, it’s amoral meaning it’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is.

Last on the list is I want to share with you about my newest adventure.  As you know, I left corporate America a year ago to start my own business.  And it’s been one of the most challenging years yet because there are all these gurus out there telling you how to do everything which makes it really difficult to figure out who’s right and who’s full of shit.  Pardon my language.  For me, I want to align myself with those who are ethical, have proven results, and a positive message they send out into the world.  When I started on this path, I started a virtual assistant business and now it’s moving into more of a coaching and training avenue for nonprofits who are looking to hire administrative assistants or already have them in place and need training for them.  Originally, I set my word for 2020 as momentum, but what it’s turned out to be is metamorphosis.  And this is what happens in life.  We start out thinking it’s going to go one way and then it ends up going in a completely different direction.  And while growing pains aren’t always fun, they are necessary in order to make change happen.  While I’m still planning to cover topics related to adulting on this podcast, I’m contemplating changing the name and moving in a slightly different direction.  Regardless of the title, I still plan to bring you relevant content that I believe will be beneficial to you no matter where you’re at in your walk of life.  Stay tuned for more information on that.

Here’s what I want to leave you with today.  Whilst we were all super excited for 2020 and this new decade, so far, it hasn’t turned out exactly as we’d hoped.  And while we face a lot of uncertainty, it’s never too late to say a kind word to a neighbor, to perform random acts of kindness for your fellow man, or to take time to reflect on how we can each become better versions of ourselves and humans in general.

Final Thoughts on Leadership

Final Thoughts on Leadership

Over the last several weeks I’ve taken a look at a few topics about leadership that are near and dear to my heart and I hope that you’ve been able to find some good takeaways to apply to your life.  Whether you’re a leader, manager, parent, whatever, I feel like there’s something in there for everyone.

When it comes down to it, in order to be a great leader, you have to be great at relationships.  Now, of course, there’s a long list of attributes that makes for a great leader, but if you have no idea how to connect with people, regardless if you’re an introvert or extrovert, then you will have no followers.  And what’s the basic definition of a leader?  Someone who has followers of course!

I want to leave you with a final thought on leadership.  This is not going to be easy for many of you.  Especially for those of you like me who just really want to help others.  As a leader, if you are trying to develop leadership in adults, you have to get used to not helping.  Chances are, you work with an amazing group of people who are incredibly talented.  So, get out of their way and let them do their jobs.  This is a challenge for me because my brain is really good at figuring out systems and processes and so it’s hard to not dive in and tell everyone how to do something.  Who knows?  Maybe their way is better than mine, but I’d never know it because I’m in the way.  Your role as a leader is to be there if needed.  This is also hard when your team gets stuck.  If you are trying to build leadership skills in your team, then you have to stop yourself from jumping in and fixing problems.  Now, if you are working with teenagers or young adults, you have a bit more leeway because chances are, those folks just don’t have the experience yet and need some guidance.

This is partly why when I was teaching in the traditional classroom that I loved and also hated rubrics.  Rubrics can be the death of creativity.  Yes, there were those students who wanted to know exactly what was required (admittedly, I was one of them) and when I wouldn’t give that to them, they struggled really hard to get projects done and had 10,000 questions.  It truly breaks my heart to see creativity stolen away from students through the use of rubrics because it’s cuts corners on critical thinking.  I believe this is why so many Gen Z struggle in their first jobs.  School beat the creativity out of them and instead they were told exactly how to perform every task if they wanted that A so when they get out into the real world, they don’t know how to do work on their own.  Another reason that we should do away with grades, but that’s a topic for another day.

The point is, as a leader, sometimes you have to step back and let the chips fall as they may.  If you’re always doing to the work for your team, how will they ever learn to do it for themselves?  You have to be ok letting them “fail” so that they can pick up the pieces and start again.  It’s how ingenuity happens.  It’s also how team synergy happens.  You can’t always force the creative process as much as you might like to.  Finally, stop waiting for or expecting perfection.  It doesn’t exist.  If you are the type of leader who requires perfection out of your team, you’ll soon find you’ll be a team of one.

Let’s wrap this series up!  Here are the key takeaways:

  • Great leaders have integrity, are honest, and humble
  • Get to know yourself and your team
    • How do you work?
    • How do they work?
    • What motivates them?
    • What motivates you?
  • If you’re stuck in a toxic work relationship or environment, it’s time to move on – life is too short for you to be unhappy.
  • Looking to find a mentor or how to become one? Go back and listen to my interviews with Sheri Hart
  • Get used to not helping – even when you really really want to
  • And finally, when life’s challenges get tough remember that some things are just “over the L”

How to Become a Mentor with Sheri Hart

How to Become a Mentor with Sheri Hart

On the podcast last week, I interviewed my good friend Sheri Hart for round two of the topic of mentorship.  Sheri is an Associate Connections Director in Performance Content at VMLY&R. VMLY&R is a global brand experience agency made up of nearly 7,000 employees worldwide, with one of its principal offices located in Kansas City.

Sheri has been a leader of people for more than 10 years, and her passion is making sure that there is grace that allows for humanity in the workplace.  Here are the takeaways from that interview:

What made you want to start mentoring?

Like many people, I was introduced to the idea in the workplace. While I wasn’t always in a “people leader” type role when I first started out, I found that there were a lot of situations where I found myself listening to what others were dealing with and wanting to help. A lot of times people can find their own solutions just by discussing their problem out loud, and I enjoyed spending time listening and looking for questions to help guide them along the way. But you have to make yourself approachable or people won’t even think about starting a conversation in the first place.

Later in my career as I was promoted into roles where I had Direct Reports, it became my job to manage them, but I found that by not just doing the requisite reviews that the company requires, I really get joy from the opportunity to build relationships and extend the topics we were covering to broaden the process beyond Managing to Leading.

If someone is looking to be a Mentor, what steps should they take to make that happen?

Honestly, some things you can’t MAKE it happen. But for the most part, it is about building relationships and being a good role model or example in the workplace or whatever field that you want to be known in. People will tend to migrate your way if they see you modeling empathy, doing good work, and being good on your word. Trust is a huge factor. If people see you as trustworthy, they are so much more likely to feel comfortable opening up and discussing what can be some personal topics. Feedback can be difficult for many, trust is key.

If you’re moving this direction because you have direct reports, set up a formal structure. I typically meet with people for an hour each month, formally, and then whenever they ask if I have a minute we can find some time to talk if something more immediate comes up.

Things to consider:

This is THEIR career or situation….they should be the owners of the time. Think of it like they are driving the car, you are the GPS. Help guide them through the conversation, providing “are you supposed to turn here?” or “you might want to make a U-Turn here”…along the way.

That sounds great, but how do you do that?

As for them being the drivers, let them know that they are responsible for bringing the agenda to each meeting. It can be a certain situation they want to discuss or general questions that they have, so nothing major…but they can’t just sit down and expect you to make it all happen for them.

As for guiding….I find it is all about asking the right questions. I try to never ask a question that can be answered with “yes” “no” or “fine”. It’s the difference between saying “How are you?”, which can easily be answered with “fine” and the conversation stops, and saying “What is going well?” and letting them search their thoughts to provide any small wins they might have had.

So, clearly, questions and seeking more information are a key piece of the puzzle…what other things do you look to have in your toolbox?

There are a ton of different assessments and activities you can explore to either help you understand your mentee better as well as help them understand themselves.

Not the least of which is the Enneagram test which you have explored on your podcast and in your blog.

There is the old standard Myers-Briggs. There are free versions out there and a lot of content available on how to read and understand the various types. I’m an ENJF….but the N and J are flexible…the E and F are NOT. J These things are helpful to know if you were going to be mentoring me.

I use a short list I created with the different types of things that motivate people to explore what drives them. Do they love public praise or does that mortify them?  Are they driven by how much money they make or what benefits are provided? (PS…that’s not a bad thing and it’s OK if that’s your answer.) It just makes a difference in the types of goals you set and the type of workplace you may be looking for.

I have a list of, I think 16 different motivators….we go through them together and rank them. It doesn’t mean that the 16th thing on the list doesn’t matter, it just means less than the one they ranked as #1. Those things help me know what they can be doing to find those things in their career, as well as what I should focus on when given them positive reinforcement or guidance.

For example, I’m a “celebrate every victory, no matter how small” kind of person, but someone else might think tiny wins are nothing, they just want the big GOAL. Neither of us is right or wrong, but it’s helpful information to have as I work to provide leadership for them.

There are also exercises about writing your own personal mantra or finding your core values. Again, some people respond to these exercise with enthusiasm, and some would rather poke themselves in the eye with a fork than go through them, so you can’t just blow in with all of them and overwhelm with your “toolkit”, but it’s helpful to have a lot of them so that you find the right mix for each individual.

It’s a lot to think about, what would be your final thoughts on Being a Mentor?

I guess one additional thought would be that while you are a mentor and a guide, unless you are trained to do so, you are not a mental health expert. If someone is dealing with something serious and needs help, your role is not to try to fix that, but to help them find the resources to do so.

Mostly, that it’s not about YOU. It’s about THEM.

But, that if you find yourself with an opportunity to be a mentor, you will find that it is highly rewarding for you as well and that sometimes you’ll have a session where you learn way more than they do.

To hear the entire episode, go to www.adultingwithcj.com/podcast/021.

How to Find a Mentor with Sheri Hart

How to Find a Mentor with Sheri Hart

On the podcast last week, I interviewed my good friend Sheri Hart.  Sheri is an Associate Connections Director in Performance Content at VMLY&R. VMLY&R is a global brand experience agency made up of nearly 7,000 employees worldwide, with one of its principal offices located in Kansas City.

Sheri has been a leader of people for more than 10 years, and her passion is making sure that there is grace that allows for humanity in the workplace.  She joined me on the show to talk about mentorship.  Here are the takeaways from that interview:

What is a mentor?

A mentor is a person who can serve as a guide through whatever situation you are working through in your education or career.  It may be someone who has experience looking for a job, writing a resume, or creating a portfolio; if you’re a student, you’re looking to take the next step.  Or, someone who can help you with goals or skills you are looking to develop like giving or receiving feedback, giving presentations, or navigating difficult coworkers or leaders.

Why should you have a mentor?

Most of us have encountered a situation at work where we are in unfamiliar territory.  There is always someone who has been there, done that.  Whether it was determining they needed a career change or how to get their foot in the door within a specific company or industry, they’ve experienced it.

Where do I find these people?

There are a lot of places to find a mentor, and many times it will happen organically.  You may find yourself speaking with someone in the workplace where you appreciate their knowledge and input and are comfortable asking them questions and spending additional time discussing your goals, problems, strengths, and weaknesses.  In fact, I’ve found this to be my favorite way for relationships to start.  Who do you admire?  Who do you know or see who is already in that place where you are trying to be?  Look for groups – business groups locally or online where people in your career field or the career field you’re looking to get into.  Check out your Alma Mater – many colleges have programs to mentor their students and former students.  Just remember that, like any relationship, you may want to meet with more than one person before deciding they are “the one.”  Many people are successful or experts at their craft, but not all are open to sharing their secrets or being good listeners.

To hear the entire episode, go to www.adultingwithcj.com/podcast/020.

A Story About Customer Service

A Story About Customer Service

Today I want to talk with you about what makes for good customer service.  My husband and I just got back from a beach vacation and while it was wonderful, we met several folks on our travels that could be best be described as what not to do when it comes to customer service.  Let’s start with Mr. Seafood Market Man.

Rather than visit an International beach, we decided to stay in the U.S. and flew down to Dauphin Island which is an island in the Gulf on the Alabama side.  I learned of Dauphin Island from my mom, who also accompanied us on the trip.  She told us that there is really nothing there in terms of nightlife or things to do, it’s just you and the beach which sounded like heaven to us.  Knowing there would be few restaurants open in the off-season, we decided that we would take advantage of the local seafood market and cook most, if not all, of our meals.  I was super stoked to check out this market because Chad and I love seafood.  So first day there, away we went.

We get to the place and the guy behind the counter was pretty surly.  He didn’t seem too interested in helping us make decisions and at one point we’re pretty sure he lied to us about one of the types of shrimp we bought.  After two types of shrimp, coleslaw, shrimp and crab bisque, and of course, hushpuppies we figured we had enough food to feed the block.  As you can imagine, this excursion wasn’t cheap.  Didn’t matter that we just dropped nearly $100, the guy barely even thanked us for coming in.  On the way back to the condo, my mom told us that the last time she was there that the people were overly friendly, willing to answer any question you had, and encouraged you to try different ways of cooking their seafood.  Maybe the guy’s wife just left him.  Maybe he was hungover.  Maybe he was worried about fixing his roof that got blown off during the hurricane a week ago.  While we’re all human, if you choose to run a business that serves the public, even a smile goes a long way.  And your customers don’t leave calling you a douchebag once they are in their car.

Example two.  Again, not much on the island, we needed just a few things and so we stopped into a little food mart.  Evidently, they were having a bad day as well because as we were walking in the lady behind the counter was yelling at people that they didn’t have egg rolls, chicken tenders, or anything else that needed deep frying because their food truck delivery hadn’t made it in that morning.  Ok, we really just needed some bottled water and a bottle of wine, but thanks.  And again, when we paid, we barely got a thank you because the lady at the register was too busy yelling at the girl in the back.  At this point, we were like, what the heck is going on here?  And we still had one more errand to run but after the first two places, we kinda’ thought we should just head back to the condo and go lie on the beach for the rest of the day.  But, we’d heard great things about this little bakery so we decided to check it out anyway.

And oh my goodness we were not disappointed!  The ladies working there were by far the nicest people.  They were clearly happy to see us and were excited to talk about all the baked goods in their cases.  This was the polar opposite of the two places we’d just visited.  This is the kind of customer service you expect when you hear people talk about southern hospitality.  In the three examples, which of the places do you think we were recommending to complete strangers?  It certainly wasn’t Mr. Seafood Man or Miss No Fried Food Today Lady.

I’m sure you’ve all witnessed similar behavior when traveling or even when you’re not traveling.  You know businesses in beachy locations make all their money on tourism, so why would they want to drive customers away?  And frankly, this is true of any service business that makes its money serving the public.

If you are one of the lucky people who get to work with the public on a regular basis, I’m going to share with you a few ways about how you can provide the best service possible and keep your people coming back for more.

I’ve read tons of books about customer service and one of the best out there is called Lunchmeat and Life Lessons by Mary B. Lucas.  This book is near and dear to my heart because the family is from Kansas City and the author takes you through what it was like working for her father in the family business.  In fact, more than 70 years later, Bichelmeyer Meats is still in business and family-owned and operated.  While I’m not going to cover the whole book with you, I want to highlight the key takeaways.  First, Lucas suggests you want to make a lasting impression.  How do you do this?  By always remembering to put the ‘comeback sauce’ on every person you come in contact with.  Her dad told her that if someone comes in asking for a pound of lunchmeat, you give them a few more slices and smile and tell them you gave them a little bit more – whatever it takes to connect with people.  The point is to make sure your customers leave with the feeling of wanting to come back again soon.

The second part of the comeback sauce is that honesty is the best policy.  In the example of Mr. Seafood Market Man, he tried to tell us that no one gets this one particular type of shrimp fresh.  But, my mom knew he was lying based on a previous conversation she’d had with the owner the last time she was there.  Ugh!  I hate liars and I’d say most everyone else does too.  Now, there is a difference between being direct and being an asshole.  Let’s say you have to deliver bad news to someone like something they want is out of stock.  Rather than telling your customer that you don’t have the thing in your store and walking away, the better option would go something like this, “we are currently out of the item you’re looking for but so-and-so a couple of blocks over may have it, would you like me to call them and find out for you?”  See how easy that is?  It’s a polite way of saying no and also shows that you care about your people getting what they need.

Number two, admit your mistakes.  If you’ve screwed something up for one of your customers, own it.  It does you no good to play the blame game.  I’m a firm believer that there is very little, in the form of mistakes, that can’t be fixed.  Even something as simple as an apology will go a long way with people.  I know our first reaction tends to be, “it can’t have been me,” but that too is not helpful.  Even if it wasn’t you who made the error, take responsibility anyway.  Customers don’t care whose fault it is, they just want to be taken care of and they want to know you care.  So apologize, fix it, and move on.

While this next bit isn’t entirely about customer service, I feel it warrants mentioning because it’s just good advice for life and it’s “meet the challenge.”  This story is straight out of the book.  In July of 1951, the meat market had been doing very well and business was booming.  Then everything was turned upside down when a big flood wiped out the business.  For those of you who don’t know the history, the great flood of 1951 flooded more than one million acres in Kansas and 926,000 acres in Missouri and exceeded $935 million in damage which is equivalent to $9.21 billion in 2019.  This is how Lucas’s dad tells the story:

“‘Even with all the reports and the evacuation plans, my dad continued, ‘I really didn’t believe there would be a flood until it actually happened. It was the middle of the night and when your mother ran into the bedroom and woke me up screaming John, John wake up! It’s over the “L”.

It’s over the “L”?  What in the world does that mean?

‘The flood he replied. You know up the hill from the meat market where the Milgrams is grocery store is that’s the big vertical sign that reads M-I-L-G-R-A-M-S from top to bottom. She was screaming it’s over the L because the water was over the L in Milgrams.’

‘Wow,’ I replied if the flooded covered Milgrams that had certainly covered dad’s meat market.

‘I got out of bed and I went into the living room when I looked at the television pictures of the rising floodwaters and saw the M I and no G-R-A-M-S, I felt sick. I don’t need to tell you what was happening to the meat market. When the store up the hill was underwater. I thought a minute about what I might do. And then I told your mother to turn off the television set and come back to bed. She looked at me like I was crazy. But John the water is over the L she kept saying. Exactly. I told her the water’s over the L, there’s nothing I can do about it. Now come back to bed and let’s enjoy the fact that we can sleep late for a change.’

He smiled and seemed to get carried away in a memory for a moment, a memory that could have and probably should have been a bad one. And yet I could tell he did not look at it that way. ‘Over the L,’ I repeated.  ‘Your entire work world is underwater and a all you can think about as you got to sleep in for once in your life?

‘No,’ he replied. ‘That’s what I chose to think about at that moment. There’s a big difference. Sometimes you have to resign yourself to the fact that some things are just over the L.

He went on to explain that there were actually a lot of really good things that came out of the 51 flood. ‘I can tell you that as devastating as it was at the moment he said we would not be where we are today financially had it not been for that disaster. Because of the flood, I was offered a chance to borrow money at a 3% interest rate. I had no intention of doing that as I had saved enough over the years to rebuild the market myself. But a very wise friend told me to borrow all I could and to invest in real estate. Well, I did and I made some very wise decisions as to properties to buy that started a whole new income stream for our family that I never would have realized if it wasn’t For the flood, that’s why I firmly believe in the saying good luck. Bad luck. Who knows?

‘I got it, Dad,’ I said, and I meant it.”

What I hope you take away from all of this today is to figure out how you plan to put the comeback sauce on your daily interactions with people, that honesty matters, and regardless of the situation, you must always own your mistakes. And finally, when life gets you down, find ways to meet the challenge and understand that some things are just “over the L.”





Is Your Boss Like a Sex-Crazed Cardinal?

Is Your Boss Like a Sex-Crazed Cardinal?

Today I want to tell you a story.  Before the high heat of summer set in, I had my brother install new tint on our windows to keep the heat out.  We have 9 huge windows on the south side of our house that heat everything up in the afternoons.  The type of tint he used is highly reflective on the outside, which is great for reflecting light, however, it created 9 individual mirrors on the outside of our house.  Now, you’re probably wondering what the big deal is, so here’s the deal.  The Northern Cardinal mating season runs from May to July and the females are extremely territorial.  For several weeks, we had a female cardinal repeatedly slamming herself into her own reflection because she saw it as a threat to the pretty male birds in the yard that she was interested in hooking up with.

My husband and I both figured she’d eventually catch on and give it up but not until the mating season was over, did the incessant pecking stop.  And I say pecking like it was this cute little tap, tap, tap on the window.  It was really more like she was body slamming herself into the glass.  This got me thinking, how often do we feel the sense of someone encroaching upon our territory and get our feathers all ruffled up, as it were?  Or, how often do we make the same mistakes over and over again never learning the lesson?  We tried several different ways to get this bird to move on but no matter what we did, that thing just wouldn’t, or couldn’t figure it out.  Also, you clearly don’t want to mess with female Northern Cardinals when they are trying to get some.

Too often humans behave just like the cardinals; we see our reflection aka fear and we let it stop us from moving forward to get what we really want or need.  The same can be said about toxic relationships.  Some of us stay in relationships we know are unhealthy but like that cardinal, we keep bashing our faces against the window hoping for a change that will never come, and what we don’t realize is that the relationship we desire is waiting for us in the next tree over.

Lately, I’ve been discussing my thoughts on leadership and by now you know I strongly believe that in order to be a good leader, you have to be good at relationships.  Part of building strong relationships involves letting others in.  A lot of managers struggle with this because they fear if they give an inch, then their people will take a mile.  Or, they let their egos get in the way and they can’t relish the idea of giving over control to their team.  I think it boils down to self-esteem issues.  Rather than working together with folks as a united front, they’d rather call all the shots for two reasons.  First, they worry about being viewed as weak by their superiors.  Second, they get comfortable or complacent and change equates to more work.  How often have you been involved with a group of people who have “this is the way we’ve always done it” tattooed on their foreheads?  It’s called the comfort zone for a reason, it’s comfortable there.  It’s like a big, fuzzy, warm blanket where new ideas come to die.

But, what if as a manager or leader, you were to let your team in?  Let them be part of the decision-making process.  Ask them what is working or not working.  If you are doing reviews on their work, have them reciprocate on your work.  This is no easy task because, for most of us, it’s hard to hear that our people are unhappy.  And, for a lot of people, it is really hard to accept the fact that they need to change or evolve.  My comeback to the people who say “this is how we’ve always done it” is “well, that doesn’t make it right.”  If you are a manager of people or a leader in your group, I encourage you to get to really know your people and bring them into the fold.  Be transparent.  Be honest.

This brings me to the final thought I want to address.  Sometimes, relationships are flat out toxic whether in your professional life or your personal life.  If the reason you’re not keen on sharing the load with your teammates is that there’s what I like to call “a snake in the grass” amongst you, then it is time to consider moving on and ending that relationship.  You know the type, they take credit for all the ideas, they say one thing and do another, and you flat out can’t trust them to ever do the right thing.  In this case, in my opinion, you have two options.  Either you find ways to cover your ass such as keeping a file that documents your interactions, or you call it a day and get the heck out of there.  Trust me, it is not worth it to waste your energy on those hellbent on bringing you down.  There are other lovely places to work and better opportunities to share your knowledge with people who are truly invested in you and helping you grow as a person.  Don’t be like that cardinal slamming its body into the window hoping to scare off the competition.  Rather, look around.  See what’s out there.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the new opportunity that’s waiting for you to reach out and grab it.

If you’ve ever been in this situation, I’d love to hear about it and what you did to overcome it.  You can either leave a comment below or you can email me at cj@adultingwithcj.com.

Enneagram Types 5-9

Enneagram Types 5-9

This week we are carrying on with the second half of the Enneagram types.  Last week we covered types 1-4 so you’ll want to make sure and go back to the last blog post to get the info on those.  As I said last week, there are all sorts of personality tests in the world but one of my personal favorites is the Enneagram.  The cool part about the Enneagram is that it teaches you all about your personality as well as how other people think and feel.  In my opinion, the Enneagram is one of the most comprehensive personality inventories out there. If you’ve never heard of the Enneagram, here’s how it breaks down.

The Enneagram itself is a geometric figure that maps out the nine fundamental personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships.  It is a symbol that is made up of a circle with a triangle and a hexad in the middle that connects to nine outer points.  The nine points are what represent the nine personality types – type 1 is The Reformer, type 2 is The Helper, type 3 is The Achiever, type 4 is The Individualist, type 5 is The Investigator, type 6 is The Loyalist, type 7 is The Enthusiast, type 8 is The Challenger, and type 9 is The Peacemaker.  Again, if you want to learn more about types 1-4 go back and check out Enneagram Types 1-4.  Let’s move onto types 5-9.

Type 5 is The Investigator and is an intense, cerebral type who is also known as the Thinker

They are hyper-aware of their surroundings; they are insightful and curious.  They love to pursue knowledge and are able to develop complex ideas.  A 5s basic fear is of being useless, incapable, or incompetent and as you can imagine, their basic desire is to be competent. The strengths of this type include the ability to remain calm in a crisis, constantly learning and picking up new skills, and are often ahead of their time.  Weaknesses include a tendency to be perceived as condescending, disconnected from their feelings, and isolating themselves from others.  This occurs because they are always striving to be independent and so by detaching from people fives oftentimes feel very lonely.  In order to effectively communicate with fives, you need to allow them plenty of personal space and time to think and make sure you express your thoughts clearly and logically.  Meetings should be productive and worthwhile and make sure you ask for their insight or observations.  Like fours, they don’t have time for chit-chat so be direct with what you need.  When giving feedback, just be honest about growth areas and offer constructive criticism.  Common jobs for fives include engineers, mathematicians, computer programmers, writers, and scientists.

And now what I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for, Type 6 aka the Loyalist aka me.  When I very first took the Enneagram test, I tested as a 1 and it completely made sense to me.  Ones feel the need to be perfect, they are highly organized, etc.  Then time went by and I took it again and tested as a Six.  At first, I refused to believe it and I swear I took the test two more times before finally paying for a test and sure enough, it came back as 6 along with an explanation that sometimes sixes misidentify as ones. Then I started studying the six and lo and behold, totally me.  Sixes are committed, reliable, hardworking, responsible, defensive, evasive, and highly anxious.  Check, check, check, check, check, check, and check.  They are often cautious and indecisive but can also be defiant and rebellious.  Their basic fear is being without support or guidance and their basic desire is to feel secure.  Sixes are good at making responsible and practical choices, honoring commitments, caring for others, thinking about other people’s perspectives, and they are both logical and emotional.  However, they can struggle to control anxious thoughts, they tend to expect the worst outcome, and they have high levels of self-doubt and insecurity.  The best way to communicate with a six is the help them feel safe and secure by listening and offering support.  Again, just like 4s and 5s when emailing them avoid small talk and get to the point.  When giving feedback keep it on the gentler side by expressing encouragements and constructive criticism.  You’ll typically find sixes as paralegals, bankers, professors, administrative assistants, and caregivers.

Type 7 is the Enthusiast aka the life of the party

Sevens are busy, productive types who are optimistic and spontaneous.  While they are highly practical, they can also be scattered and undisciplined.  Their basic fear is being deprived or trapped in pain and their basic desire is to be happy.  Sevens can think quickly and creatively.  They can easily handle change in plans, and they are great at acquiring new skills or abilities.  Weaknesses can include difficulty committing to plans in advance, they quickly get bored, and because of this, they can make impulsive or rash decisions.  When communicating with sevens be upbeat and optimistic, let them know what you need from them, and include casual conversation and dialog in emails.  When giving feedback be honest and constructive.  Sevens like to come up with multiple solutions to problems, so let them help you when you get stuck.  Good careers for sevens are artists, interior designers, bartenders, tour guides, photographers, and publicists.

Type 8 is the Challenger also known as the Protector

This type is powerful, dominating, self-confident, and assertive.  They feel they must control their environment and are often confrontational and intimidating.  They love getting into debates and are good at making tough decisions.  8s basic fear is being harmed or controlled by others and their basic desire is to protect oneself.  They tend to act quickly and decisively, can lead their team to success, and they are typically fair and logical in their decision-making.  Eights struggles with others’ opinions, following rules or orders, and being perceived as being intimidating.  When it comes to communicating, be upfront and direct, allow them to share new ideas or suggestions, avoid casual conversation, and share feedback respectfully and constructively.  Because this type strives for control, in order to resolve conflict with an 8, stand your ground and call them out on their inappropriate actions while also considering their side.  You’ll find 8s working as lawyers, ad execs, politicians, marketing strategists, and business owners.

Chad and I recently watched The Last Dance on Netflix which is the docuseries about Michael Jordan.  If you haven’t watched it, you should because MJ really is an impressive human.  During the show, I kept wondering which Enneagram type he is so naturally, I Googled it.  There is a strong debate on whether he is a 3 or an 8.  Remember, threes are the high achieving type but I’m convinced he’s an eight.  I mean, look, he’s powerful, dominating, and self-confident.  He led the Bulls to multiple wins, he’s a logical decision-maker and strives to control his environment.  Hello?  And as I mentioned, marketing strategists and eights go hand in hand.  Do you know how much money this man has made in his career, which let’s be honest, playing basketball was only for a short time all things considered?  He’s made his money through strategic marketing.  MJ if you’re reading this post, take the test and let us know what you are once and for all.

Type 9 is the Peacemaker

This type is easygoing, accepting, trusting, and stable.  They are good-natured, kindhearted, and supportive.  But for all those wonderful traits, they can also be too willing to go along with others in order to keep the peace.  The basic fear of nines is the loss of connection and their basic desire is to be at peace not only within themselves but also in the world around them.  What makes a nine a great peacemaker is their ability to see multiple perspectives, remaining calm and adaptable, reassuring those around them, and being open-minded.  Weaknesses associated with nines are the tendency to minimize problems, avoiding difficult or upsetting situations, and being passive-aggressive rather than addressing conflict head-on.  The best way to communicate with a nine is to encourage them to be open about their needs and ideas but avoid pressuring them to share their opinions or feelings.  Allow room for small-talk and personal connection and avoid being overly negative or critical when giving feedback.  Nines make great counselors, veterinarians, social workers, diplomats, and religious workers.  This is Chad’s type which is why I think we go together so well.  I need support, he wants to give it.  I’m the pessimist, he’s the optimist.  I struggle with anxiety and he’s stable.  Plus, he’s really cute too.

And there you have it – those are the 9 types of the Enneagram.  If you still haven’t taken the test to figure out which type you are, you can go here and take the thing: https://www.crystalknows.com/enneagram-test. Take the test and let me know what type you are!  You can either email me at cj@adultingwithcj.com or you can leave a comment below.  You can also check out this site: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions which I hope you will because there is a lot of great information as well as a deeper dive into the wings of each type and how each type interacts with the other types.  For example, if you are a 5 and your partner is a 3, it’ll show you how to communicate with one another and where there may be areas of improvement for you.  It also talks about how to work with each type in a professional setting.  All in all, I think the Enneagram is one of the best tools out there when trying to determine how to best lead a team at work or to work on the relationships in your personal life.


Enneagram Types 1-4

Enneagram Types 1-4

I’m a firm believer that in order to be a good leader you should also be good at relationships.  I think it is helpful to first determine your personality type or leadership style and then see how your employees stack up next to you.  There are all sorts of personality tests in the world but one of my personal favorites is the Enneagram.  The cool part about the Enneagram is that it teaches you all about your personality as well as how other people think and feel.  In my opinion, the Enneagram is one of the most comprehensive personality inventories out there. If you’ve never heard of it, here’s how it breaks down.

The Enneagram itself is a geometric figure that maps out the nine fundamental personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships.  It is a symbol that is made up of a circle with a triangle and a hexad in the middle that connects to nine outer points.  The nine points are what represent the nine personality types – type 1 is The Reformer, type 2 is The Helper, type 3 is The Achiever, type 4 is The Individualist, type 5 is The Investigator, type 6 is The Loyalist, type 7 is The Enthusiast, type 8 is The Challenger, and type 9 is The Peacemaker.  Each of the nine types fit into a sub-category called the triads.  Eights, Nines, and Ones fall into the Instinctive Triad meaning they are concerned with maintaining resistance to reality – they also tend to have issues with aggression and repression.  Twos, Threes, and Fours are in the Feeling Triad.  They are concerned with self-image, however, underneath their ego, they carry a lot of shame around with them.  Finally, Fives, Sixes, and Sevens fall into the Thinking Triad and are concerned with anxiety and they will do what they need to do in order to feel safe and secure.  When you look at the triads, what you see is that each personality type has a basic fear as well as a basic desire.  Now, I could do 9 separate posts for each type but for the sake of time, I’m going to break it up into two posts.  I’m going to give you a high-level overview of types 1-4 today and next week we’ll do 5-9.

Type 1 aka the Reformer is an idealistic type

They are very conscientious and have a strong sense of right and wrong.  While they are always striving to improve, the kicker is they are scared of making mistakes.  They tend to have problems with repressed anger but at their best, they are wise.  When I first took the Enneagram test, I would have sworn I was a one.  I have a strong need to be perfect and I’m also highly organized.  But then I read that Sixes often misidentify as Ones, which is when I discovered I’m actually a Six.  The basic fear of Ones is a fear of being bad, corrupt, evil, or defective and their basic desire is to have integrity.  Strengths that are typically associated with ones are their awareness and attention to detail, they have an optimistic worldview, and they defend the rights of others.  Weaknesses include the tendency to be perfectionistic, difficulty accepting hard realities, and being highly critical of themselves and others.  When communicating with a One, you need to take them seriously, focus on conveying a clear message, encourage them to share their thoughts, and express feedback in a constructive way such as giving specific examples of ways to improve.  Common careers for Ones are lawyers, judges, social workers, politicians, counselors, and journalists.

Type 2, aka the Helper, is a caring, interpersonal type

Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted.  They can also fall into the trap of incessantly trying to please people.  Because they are driven by their need to help others, they sometimes neglect their own needs and forget to take care of themselves first.  At their best, Twos have unconditional love for themselves and others.  Not surprising, their basic fear is the fear of being unworthy of being loved and I’m sure you can guess that their basic desire is to be loved.  Fun fact about Twos.  Women often misidentify as Twos because when they are taking the test, they will unknowingly answer the questions from a place of who they think they should be, aka helpful/caring.  This is not to say that there aren’t Twos out there who are women, but if you are a woman who first tests as a two, check out the next closest type you test as because it may be closer to the truth than the Two.  Twos are typically supportive and encouraging of people around them, they have a positive attitude, and they love getting to know people.  However, oftentimes, Twos seek out approval from others, they are sometimes perceived as overbearing, and the are easily offended by criticism.  In order to communicate well with Twos, you need to be attentive and encouraging and help them to recognize their value.  Let them help you problem-solve issues, and make sure you let them know how much you appreciate their hard work.  When you must give feedback to a Two, avoid being overly critical and share any concerns you may have with sensitivity.  You’ll usually see Twos as nonprofit leaders, religious leaders, nurses, teachers, and customer service reps.

Type 3 aka the Achiever is very success-oriented and is sometimes called the Performer

They are self-assured, attractive, and ambitious.  They are extremely competitive even to the point of becoming workaholics.  At their best, they are very authentic people who inspire others to do and be better.  Their basic fear is being worthless or without value and their basic desire, obviously, is be valuable.  They are driven to succeed, motivating and encouraging those around them, they easily connect with others, and are very charismatic.  However, oftentimes Threes focus too much on how they look, they have difficulty accepting failure, and like I previously mentioned, they can be overly competitive.  To communicate effectively with Threes, be as clear as you can and let them know exactly what you want or need.  In other words, being concise is the name of the game with Threes.  The best way to provide feedback to a Three is to let them know how much you value them while showing them how they can improve.  Common jobs for Threes are consultants, marketers, entrepreneurs, surgeons, lawyers, and politicians.

Type 4 aka the Individualist is the romantic, introspective type

They are self-aware, reserved, and quiet.  However, they can also be quite moody.  They have problems with self-indulgence and self-pity.  At their best, they are highly creative.  A Four’s basic fear is being without identity or personal significance and their basic desire is to be oneself.  Fours can deeply connect with their feelings and they are sensitive to the feelings of others, they know their growth areas and are also very deep-thinking and creative individuals.  As for weaknesses, they often withdraw when the going gets tough, they fixate on what they don’t have, and they tend to overreact emotionally when life gets hard.  Good communication with Fours should include sharing your feelings, being optimistic and encouraging, and letting them share their voice.  Avoid chit-chat – those deep thinkers don’t have time for that.  And when giving feedback, turn negative feedback into an opportunity for growth.  You can find Fours working as actors, writers, artists, photographers, designers, and hairstylists.

Is your head reeling yet?  I know, this is a ton of information to take in in a short amount of time.  I find all this stuff completely fascinating because I’m so curious to know that makes people tick.  If you’ve never taken the Enneagram test before, check out either of these websites to learn more:



After you take the test, I’d be curious to know what type you are!  You can let me know via the comment section.

Next week we will finish up with types 5-9, which I’m excited about because I’m a Six and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!