Work With What You’ve Got

Going outside your comfort zone can be overwhelming.  Even if the step you are taking is a tiny one, it can still cause quite a bit of anxiety.


I was asked to give a four-minute talk at a networking event called Sparks.  It is a similar format as the TED Talks with two four-minute presenters and a ten-minute presenter.  The talks are focused on ideas worth sharing – not about promoting your business. 


This would not seem like a problem for me, as I am a talker.  I love facilitating workshops and speaking so I was thrilled to present.  It also let me be creative in what I wanted to talk about.  I’m a creative person so again, this shouldn’t have been an issue.


I chose to talk about gratitude and for the metaphors use one thing I love: dogs.


It is all sounding good and I was getting excited.


But here is the thing: I wanted it to be good and what I found was I was running over on my time.


If that were to happen I would immediately be clapped off the stage – so it is a strict four minutes.


Now the anxiety started creeping in, it was getting out of my comfort zone because I was not able to control all the factors. 


Do I trim the talk to make it fit but loose some of the punch?

Do I start over thinking of a new angle but loose the excitement of what I want to use?

Do I adjust my talking speed in the middle to account for the timing?




That’s it!


I realized that there is no way that I could really say what I wanted, in the format and flow that I wanted in a “normal” way in four minutes so what I needed to do what use one of my other talents – the ability to talk really fast.


If I sped up in the middle of my talk the cadence would throw people off and possibly loose them.  But if I started and stayed at high speed it would be consistent and just might work.


People can listen to fast talking and get what is said.


The result – about an eight minute talk in four minutes that was very well received.  Oh sure, the speed talking was entertaining, but people also got the message; they heard it, they understood it and hopefully someone got it.


This experience reminded me of a line of thinking that I believe my dad instilled in me: use what you’ve got.


I was a short kid, a skinny kid and a girl.  I was also a tomboy so all the prior qualities were kind of detriments to that.  But he taught me to use what I’ve got to do what I want.  No excuses, just alternatives.


Instead of looking at a problem or goal and thinking about how you cannot accomplish it because you lack certain things, he taught me to look at it and figure out how I am going to succeed based on what I have or know.


Whether you are stuck in a situation, take a step back and think about using what you’ve got to solve the problem.  You may not have the education that a company is looking for in hiring for a position, but maybe you have the experience or life skills that compensate or outshine that diploma.  Use what you’ve got.


And use it to your advantage.


Here is a link to the video of the talk, I hope you enjoy it.



Lisa K McDonald – Gratitude: Three Legged Dogs and Piles of Poop



I think my dad would have, but he certainly would not have been surprised by the speed talking.  He got used to that many years ago.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


So I’m an Optimist – Bite Me.

I choose to be an optimist and I also choose to stop apologizing for it. My best friend Jackie and I had a conversation yesterday about growing up. We concluded that she is, in fact, adopted and I grew up with a very naive view of the world. I think that growing up thinking that everything was just as it seemed and everyone did things because their reasons were just and has really shaped who I am. We are optimists in a world of pessimists and we’re done apologizing for it.

The older I get the more I am not only okay with this, but very comfortable with it. When my ex-husband and I would talk about things that I wanted he would tell me some things could not happen and I would always ask “Why not?” His response was something to the effect that that’s not how the world worked. But… why not? Who made this way-the-world-works rule and why can’t it be changed? Maybe it just takes a few optimists to embrace their own world so let’s all stand proud. Accept ourselves and start asking why not and stop, for crying out loud, apologizing for how we are!

Today has been a crappy day, I will admit, however; I still choose to see the positive. I honestly have every right in the world to be upset, disappointed and angry but guess what, that’s not going to change anything. I think the normal path would be to behave or relish in those things, but remember, I am an optimist.

Sometimes things happen that are out of your control, it happens, so do not beat yourself up over it. The most important step is to decide how you will respond. Your spouse left, you lost your job, you didn’t get the promotion, your car broke down, your family disappointed you, you aren’t sure if you’re going to be able to pay the mortgage – life events. And they suck, no doubt. But guess what, the worse is over because you know what you are facing. Now how are you going to face it?

I think the status quo is the woe-is-me tunnel vision negative view. Take one incident and it consumes your whole day, week, life, identity. But try being grateful. When you get that sucky news take a moment to ingest it then stop. Stop and look around at exactly where you are and what is around you and find the good. Find the blessings and things to be appreciative for that is around you right now. For example, I am sitting in my office with three of the five dogs. The big boys are off playing somewhere.

Brutus is sleeping in the last bit of sunshine spilling onto the floor, Lexi is sleeping in the rocking chair and Micki is sleeping under the desk. My office is a bright green with white and purple accents and I love it, it is bright and energetic; the sun is shining outside, coming in on the three violets in the windowsill. I have India Arie and Norah Jones playing on my Ipod and the room is filled with the scent from my favorite candle. I am healthy and have all my senses, I can enjoy each and every sight and sound around me. I am so very fortunate that I am here in this moment able to see, appreciate and enjoy the beautiful things around me right now.

The day still sucked but now recognizing the things that are around me right now and having a best friend that told me to get off my butt and get my work done helps put things into perspective.

I cannot change today’s news but I can control how it affects me. For anyone telling me that I am being “too rosy” or unrealistic I say “Bite me”. Unpleasant events in life are going to happen and they help define who you are as a person. I can honestly look back and be grateful for the experience because it has helped shape me into the person I am today, and optimist and damn proud of it!

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.