SE VII : When Ends Make Room for New Beginnings

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I am up at 36,000 feet, leaving Las Vegas en route to Chicago – after a very emotional and tiresome weekend.  Which brings me to beginnings and endings.  Each time I visit Las Vegas I am reminded of both.  At one point Las Vegas was a new beginning, exciting, anticipatory, and scary.  Twelve years later it was an ending, sad, melancholy, and bittersweet, but also as I moved onto something new it was exciting and new and fresh.  I revisit these feelings every time I visit Vegas, still surrounded with amazing friends and ever evolving experiences.

This weekend, I helped my closest friend with an ending as she moved on to a new beginning.  Her store, a passion project from the start, closed this weekend.  For those who know me well, you’ll know exactly who this friend is and the store.  I showed up Friday morning after a long commute, about 4 hours in flight time alone, and surprised her.  She had no idea I was coming to help her, but how could I not be there for such an important occasion? I did throw her off track a bit… for the days leading up I avoiding speaking with her, I sent her a “sorry I can’t be there” gift basket and had a good friend beef up the story of how I regretfully could not make it.  So, when I walked in, video recording all the while, there was no question shock would be her first reaction.

The remainder of the weekend included long hours, dust, dirt, grime, memories, friends, laughs, and tears.  We worked well into the night and drove to her home together and laughed about the confusion and emotional reactions of others. We traded stories of what we experienced when the other was not in earshot.  We planned for the next day and what we would hope to accomplish between the trash runs, donations, returns, and the many items that would secretly sneak past her husband into her garage for later enjoyment or the future potential projects that may or may not come to fruition.

My friend was leaving something behind to move on to her next chapter.  An exciting and exhilarating chapter, but closing the doors to her passion project, her brainchild, her heartbeat for five years, was not easy.  A natural packrat, it was hard to give things away and even harder to throw things away.  Every item picked up with a quizzical look – “Can I make something out of this?”, “Who could use this?”, “Can I sneak this in the car when no one is looking?”.

As this blog is never just about a story, but a life lesson, here is my lesson that I was fondly reminded of this weekend:  All endings are not associated with failure. This is such a hard life lesson.  In so many ways, relationships, jobs, and arts and crafts stores, we feel like when we end something, whether or not deliberate, we must have failed in some way.  This puts such a negative connotation on endings, but I see it differently.  To start something new, sometimes we need to make space in our lives, somethings must end. It didn’t mean we necessarily failed or should feel guilty about the ending.  And, its ok to feel sad when things end, because it’s hard to say goodbye.  But, let’s not assume endings are directly related to failure, because oftentimes they have to be the thing to clear that empty space to let the new exciting stuff in.

 

Stephanie Levinson : Finding Your Dream Job

Stephanie Levinson is another great person I met while working at Wynn Las Vegas.  She was the manager of the Parasol Bar, proudly located in the main casino area.  What impressed me then, and still does today, is Stephanie’s positive attitude.  I don’t recall one encounter where Stephanie wasn’t smiling, laughing, or being overall positive in everything she did.  Our paths crossed again through mutual friends outside of work and I’ve had the pleasure of building a great friendship with Stephanie and value the time we spend together.  She continues to be a positive light and is an inspiration by starting her own business, while raising her two beautiful children with her husband Drew.  Take a read and learn how she got her dream job.


Most people have worked a job that they don’t love. I have been there! I know what it’s like to work at a job that you don’t love, but I also know what it’s like to have my dream job and I would love to share what I have learned along the way.

Figure Out What You Want To Be When You Grow Up.
My father-in-law used to say, “Sometimes knowing what you don’t want is more valuable than knowing what you do want.” Consider a “bad job” to be a pathway to self-discovery. Use the experience to your advantage by learning what you enjoy and what you don’t about the job, and allow that to help shape your future decisions.

Try new things! If there is an opportunity to help on a project that you might be interested in or to volunteer for a charity that you believe in, offer to help. Even if you end up not liking it, give it 100% effort because it could lead to something else you really do enjoy. It may lead to a passion you never knew you had.

All of your life experiences are valuable and so are the people that you encounter along the way. Never burn a bridge and always treat everyone with dignity and respect. You never know how your paths may cross in the future.

Land (or Create) Your Dream Job.
Have you ever thought about starting your own business and creating your dream job? For many, money can be the biggest hurdle. Whatever your financial situation is, know that you CAN do it. I’m not suggesting you quit your job today, but with some planning you can make that dream happen.

Come up with a game plan that will help you get there. For example, I started a bank account that I lovingly named my “FUnd.” I set a goal of saving one year’s living expenses and when I hit my goal I had more confidence in my ability to take a chance.

Consider each experience you have as a building block, preparing you for your dream job. I really enjoyed a lot of my previous positions even though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. I saw them as great opportunities. I used the guidance and experience that I had from each role and learned. When I was financially and experience ready I took the leap to start my own business.

Have courage and don’t be afraid if other people don’t support your vision. The world needs brave people. With proper planning, taking a chance can lead to an enriching life experience and quite possibly, your dream job. Rejection doesn’t mean you failed, it means you had an opportunity to try. Interviewing and not getting the job is a chance to practice and prepares you for the next interview. I know that may seem like a pep talk, but keeping a positive attitude will get you noticed for the right reasons and will keep you mentally on track to achieve your goal.

It’s Okay If Your Dreams Change.
My brother wanted to be a professional hockey player since he was 3 years old. He was fortunate enough to accomplish his goal and he wouldn’t have traded it for the world, but after several years, broken bones and weeks on the road away from his family, his dream changed. That’s okay! We go through many different phases in life that will influence what our definition of a “dream job” is.

Always be honest with yourself. No job is perfect. There will be good and bad days and the money will have ebbs and flows, but if you can wake up most days excited to go to work and not just on payday, you are probably closer to finding your dream job, don’t be afraid to make it happen!

Please join the conversation….

 

Becky Lewis : Staying Engaged and Loving the Job You’re In

If you are lucky, you meet people in your life that inspire you. Becky Lewis is one of those people for me.  At Wynn when I was new to the hotel division, I felt a bit like an outsider – the newbie.  Becky was one of the most confident people I had ever seen.  She was surrounded by people who were always laughing and she appeared to be the epitome of “one of the cool kids”. 

The first time we actually talked, she had just called off her wedding, just days before the big event.  I found her sitting alone in the employee cafeteria and, like in high school, I awkwardly approached with my tray and asked if I could join her.  I think I said something like “what you did is the bravest thing I’ve heard anyone do in a very long time”.   Of course, at the time, I was in an unhealthy relationship and didn’t have the guts to end it.  To me, this act of bravery, with so many witnesses, was an inspiration.  Shortly after, while borrowing some of Becky’s confidence and bravery, I got myself out of that bad relationship, and Becky and I have been close friends ever since. 

Becky is one of the few people who makes me laugh so much that I have to stop myself from walking just to catch my breath. When you find people in your life who inspire you and who are brave, and make you laugh, grab them and never let go. 

Please enjoy Becky’s guest contribution to this blog and I hope it makes you smile as much as it’s made me smile.

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The typical flow of a career is supposed to follow an uphill path. You interview, get hired, do a good job, get promoted and keep climbing the ladder. With each promotion and added responsibility you update your resume to show how special and valuable you are. You feel value with each promotion you earn. But what happens when you don’t want to get promoted?

You finally are in a position you love…the work is rewarding, the pay is good, the schedule is perfect and you realize that you don’t want any more promotions. Wait, what?!?  You don’t want a promotion?!?  How can this be?!?  It’s a place that not everyone gets to and it is a bizarre concept. We spend all our professional lives striving for more. It’s how we feel good about ourselves and how those around us recognize us for our achievements.

Welcome to my world. I have a job that I love, at a company that is beyond compare and I don’t want a promotion. I fought for years to create the position I am in and to build a department with amazing people and to do the work that values our company… and it’s great.  The schedule allows me to enjoy time with my family and my stress level is typically low and manageable.

Now comes the tricky part…how do you stay passionate about a job that is not going up that proverbial hill?  We’ve all been there at work…stagnant, disengaged, in a funk.  As happy as you may be in any job, it is still difficult to stay enthusiastic and maintain that level of reward and recognition that one would normally get from being promoted.

This is where having a life comes into play. I chose to stay right where I am professionally because I know that my work is rewarding for me and having a life work balance is extremely important to me as well. In making that decision, I have to consistently remind myself to stay positive at work by reminding myself about the parts of my job that are better than anyone else’s.

But, more importantly, I also have to live a life outside of work that allows me to feel rewarded and valued. I won many national championships with my horse, I got married, I went back to school and got a degree, I had two kids back to back, I ran a marathon. I’ve done a lot. I know it. My loved ones know it. My work family knows it. I am valuable. I am smart. And I don’t need to be promoted at work to find the value that we often search for.

Yes, I know that I sound like a SNL skit…”I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And dog-gone-it, people like me!”

So, here’s my advice for you… figure out what makes your heart sing both at work and at home and go do those things!  Life is not a competition…but it is about what makes you feel rewarded, fulfilled and making sure there is room in your life for all of it.  Be you, be motivated, be happy and stop worrying about the next step!

 

Please join the conversation….