Build Your Leaders

Postcard from Asheville, NC

November 2009

I love working out of my home, but sometimes I crave more connection than petting my Dalmatian, Lucy. I tried scheduling lunches and coffee meetings, but they break my flow and disrupt my productivity. Just when I was beginning to accept my loneliness, I found Facebook.

Facebook, Linked-in, and Twitter helped me find my peeps, build community, and ease my loneliness. Not only have I connected with friends from my past, such as Doris, my high school girlfriend, I've made new friends who share similar interests, such as Heloise and Nikki.

I used to think the internet, cell phones, and social marketing sites added to our isolation, but no more. And a new survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project agrees. "Spending time with online social networks gives people new powers to extend themselves and their interests," explains Lee Rainie, director of the project.

Are you on Facebook? Linked-in? Twitter? If not, you should be. Even if you think you've got enough friends, these sites offer professional as well as social benefits. Three business benefits are building your personal brand, harvesting valuable information, and staying in touch with people who one day may benefit you professionally.

If you're already on one or more of these sites, I'd love to connect with you. You'll find me under Randy Siegel.

This month, we'll talk about the power of nonattachment.

P.S. If you enjoy this eNewsletter, be sure to check out my blog. Each week, you'll find great information and insight to help you build your career and live your best life.

The Power of Nonattachment

One of my favorite days during my six-week stay at summer camp was the Fourth of July. It wasn't the fireworks I loved; it was the greased watermelon contest. Each cabin would select its strongest swimmer and throw him in the lake with a greased watermelon. The boy who pulled the melon out of the water got to keep it. His cabin then feasted on its juicy fruit.

There's a trick to winning a greased watermelon contest: You don't grip the melon too hard. The harder you grip the slippery melon, the harder it is to hold onto. The same is true for our dreams.

When I ran a public relations agency, a friend asked me if my firm would partner with his advertising firm to pitch a national bottled water account. I was elated for several reasons. First, it was an opportunity to partner with one of Atlanta's most prestigious advertising agencies. Second, the account was a large one and would significantly improve our bottom line. And third, a national brand would enhance our reputation among the local public relations community and my home office.

My agency had extensive food experience, and years before I had been the director of communications for R.J. Reynolds' Del Monte franchised beverages. We were perfect for the job.

I worked around the clock on the proposal, allowing little input from the rest of the staff. I wanted this account so bad I could taste it. The presentation went well enough, but we lost the account. Actually, to be more accurate, I lost the account. I was over-eager. Just like the kid who squeezed the greased watermelon too hard, it slipped from my grip and another camper landed it.

The Buddhists call it nonattachment. While the term sounds passive there's power in nonattachment. By gently holding our dream like a bird in the open palm of our hand, we allow it to take flight. We may not know its destination, but we can trust the bird will go where the bird needs to go.

I am learning that even when things don't turn out as I have planned, or worse turn out poorly, there's a lesson if I look for it. While that learning may be painful, most times down the road something happens that's better than I could have imagined.

In the case of the blown pitch for the bottled water account, I learned that when I want something so badly, I can squeeze the life out of it. Over the next six years, we pitched many juicy accounts. Some we won; others we didn't. When we lost, I took it in stride because I knew we'd score another, one that might be better than the one we lost.

Look at your own life. Are you holding too tightly to your dreams? If so, maybe it's time to loosen your grip, open your palm, and allow them to take flight.