About Susan L. Farrell

Susan has always loved to learn. One BS in college was not enough; she obtained a double major with a minor. Years later, she returned to college for an MBA. Susan also believes deeply in learning everything possible from personal and professional experiences.Her first career out of college was with a national health care company. She quickly moved from the facility level to division, field, and corporate levels. When she left she had been an executive director with national responsibilities for several years.As owner of SLF Consulting & Training, LLC, Susan assisted clients with the challenges of combining customer satisfaction, cost control, and regulatory compliance. Her business acumen made her a sought-after speaker which led to a successful speaking career. This, in turn, led to her current writing career on self-empowerment for women.A normal extension of a love of learning is a love of teaching. Susan has accomplished this in various positions through teaching and training her employees, co-workers, associates, and customers. She has taught as an adjunct instructor at business colleges. She has informally coached employees, associates, and friends in advancing professionally and personally. She now assists others through her books, blogs, and newsletter.She is the author of "Don’t Act Like Prey! A Woman’s Guide to Self-Empowerment," a book on respectful assertiveness as an option to passive or aggressive behavior. "52 Weeks of Wisdom, A Woman’s Guide to Self-Empowerment," is designed to provide ideas to encourage women to think about what they do, why they do it, and do they want to change. "3 Good Choices: Change It, Accept It, or Leave It; A Woman’s Guide to Self-Empowerment" discusses how to make positive choices in all aspects of life.Susan lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband and three cats.

Asking for Help

dreamstime_xs_92335252I have a problem asking for help.  There are reasons for this.

One is that I’m internally wired to think that I should be able to do everything, by myself, all the time.  This might relate to being responsible, independent, or self-sufficient.  These are good attributes, up to a point.  Or this might relate to being stubborn.  Stubbornness, too, can be a good thing, up to a point.  The reality is, we all need help sometimes and we shouldn’t let stubbornness, pride, or other things get in the way of asking.

Another reason that I have trouble asking for help is that I want things done the way I want them done, when I want them done.  I think that the way I do things is the best way.  After all, if it wasn’t the best way I wouldn’t do it that way.  It’s the old “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.”  The reality is, rarely is there one best way to do anything.  The important thing is the result—what was done, not how it was done.

I suggest that when you need help, ask.  Don’t let things get in the way.  When you ask, communicate clearly the result you want, but leave it up to the person helping you to determine the best way for him or her.  If a deadline is necessary, give it.  Otherwise ask the person when he or she can complete it.  These techniques can be used in our professional and personal lives.

Noticing Work

dreamstime_xs_34342688I was talking with a friend recently.  Both she and her husband have careers that require quite a bit of their time.  They also have two small children that require a great deal of time.  She mentioned that she wished her husband would do more around the house and with childcare.  I asked her whether she thought he could see the work that needed to be done.  She didn’t think he could.

I don’t think that is unusual.  Unless you are the one doing the work on a regular basis, I think it can be difficult to see that it needs to be done.  If someone else is being proactive and doing the work before it even needs to be done, it can be even more difficult.

There are many things in our house that I do that my husband doesn’t notice.  But then there are many things that he does that I don’t notice.  I’d notice if the furnace didn’t work, for example, but I don’t notice when he changes the filters to keep the furnace working properly.

A simple solution to this is communication.  Before assuming the person won’t help, or doesn’t want to help, ask for help.  This can apply to your professional life as well.  If you need help from your supervisor, ask.  If you don’t think she is aware of all you do, tell her.

Also take the time to find out what the other people in your life are contributing.  It might be more than you think.

Resolutions vs. Goals

dreamstime_xs_92607184I’m not a resolutions person.  It seems that too often I make a resolution at the beginning of the year to do something big, set it aside, and never look at it again.  For me, resolutions are passive because I don’t act on them.

I prefer goals.  For me, goals are active.  First there is goal-planning and then developing strategies for goal-implementation.  Goals, or at least strategies, are also active in that they are fluid.  They change.  If one strategy doesn’t work, I try something different.  If many strategies don’t work, then I look at whether I need to change the goal.

The important thing, of course, is that we accomplish what we want.  If making resolutions work for you, great.  If goals work better for you, that is great as well.  Do whatever works for you to make 2018 the year you want.

Gain and Pain

dreamstime_xs_35911205, croppedYou have probably heard the concept that we have two basic choices.  We can choose long-term gain for short-term pain or we can choose short-term gain for long-term pain.

Most of the decisions I have made in my life were long-term gain for short-term pain.  In college I regularly choose to study instead of party.  In my careers I regularly chose to work long, hard hours and to do my best rather than slacking.  I have usually chosen to do what was right or responsible rather than what I felt like doing at the time.

These decisions have paid off for me.  I consider myself to have a happy, successful life, both professionally and personally.

What I realized the other day, though, was that I am at a point in my life where I can ease up.  I can do more of what I want because I want to.  I’ve reached the long-term gain and I don’t really need to worry so much about the short-term pain.  I’m glad I’ve made this realization now, where I can enjoy it fully.

If you are like me, and have consistently made the long-term gain decisions, I suggest that you stop and access where you are in life.  Could you do a little more of the short-term gain items?  With where you are now, is there much long-term pain to worry about?

For What Are You Thankful?

hThe original purpose of Thanksgiving was to give thanks for what we have.  Unfortunately, too often in the rush of doing everything we think we must do for the holiday, never mind what we need to do routinely, we forget to do what is most important—reflect on what we have and be thankful.

I think it is important to be thankful for all the little things we have in our lives as well as the big things.  It is, after all, the little things that combine to make our life.  Often we forget the importance of the little things, and now is a good time for us to remember what they are and how important they are to us.

I think it is also important to reflect on our life as a whole.  Overall, I think most of us have good lives.  We have more good than bad in our lives.  When we focus on the negative instead of the positive, however, the negative can appear to be a much larger part of our lives than it really is.  When we focus on scarcity, we don’t see abundance.

Do you see your life as it really is?  Are you thankful for the life you have?

Messages

dreamstime_xs_91266791I was at a conference recently and one of the speakers was talking about communication and listening skills.  During her presentation she mentioned how we communicate non-verbally as well as verbally and used the example of pictures we have in our offices.  The specific example she used was what we would think if we saw hunting pictures in someone’s office.

My immediate thought was, “Cool!  I can use that to start a conversation.”  I don’t hunt, but my father did and my brothers and a niece and nephew do.  I know enough that I can use it to start a conversation, to form a connection.

A moment after my thought, I heard a woman at the next table say, “Predator.”  Wow!  She would receive a completely different message from a hunting picture than I would.

It is important to realize that the message sent and the message received might not be the same.  Whether you are the sender or the receiver, take steps to clarify the intent of the message if you think there might be misinterpretations.

Use the Back of Your Brain

dreamstime_xs_62496032When I was in college it always took me awhile to complete the research for papers.  The major reason was that I always found so many interesting studies to read.  They might not have been relevant for the paper I was writing, but it was hard to resist reading them anyway.

One related to brain functioning.  It said that either the subconscious or unconscious (I forget which—or maybe it was both—let’s call it the back of the brain) was always working.  Since it was always working, we might as well have the conscious part of our brain (let’s call it the front of the brain) tell the back of the brain what we wanted it to do.

I was going to college full-time and working 30-40 hours a week to pay for college.  I needed all the help I could get to make best use of the time I had, so I started experimenting with this.  I would tell the back of my brain things like: “I have to write a paper on XYZ.  What should I include?  How should I organize it?”  Then I would work on other things for a day or two.  When I sat down to work on the paper, the information flowed.  I had much more information than I ever had when I tried to write something “cold.”

The more I used this technique, the better it worked.  I still use it.

For example, a few days ago I had the idea that this topic would make a good blog.  If I had sat down and tried writing it the minute I had the idea, I would have struggled.  Instead, the front of my brain told the back of my brain to work on this idea.  Now, the thoughts are pouring out, faster than I can type.

I use this for large projects, such as writing books.  With a book, I tell the back of my brain to work first on the overall concepts and content of the book and as I start writing, I tell it to work in more detail on the next chapter.  It works!  I have more trouble finding time to write than I do in getting thoughts on paper once I have time to do it.

I also use this for little things such as planning parties, holiday dinners, and vacations.  People comment on how organized I am.  To a large degree, I think it is because I use the back of my brain to work on things while the front of my brain is focused on other items.

If you don’t already do this, I suggest that you try it.  If it works, you might find that you are more productive.  If it doesn’t work, you haven’t lost a thing.

 

The Best and the Brightest

dreamstime_xs_29054082A friend and I were reminiscing at our 40th high school reunion about, of all things, high school.  During the conversation, she made a comment about how she and our other friends were surprised that for so long my goal was to become a secretary.  The reason it surprised them, she said, was that I was one of the smartest in the class and could have done anything.

That conversation brought back memories that I have not thought about for a long time.  On one level, I knew I was one of the smartest in my class.  Grades weren’t a secret and mine were consistently at the top.  And yet I did not think I was smart enough to go to college.  It probably wasn’t until my senior year that I finally realized that if I wasn’t smart enough, who was?  There were plenty of students, with lower grades than mine, that were planning on going.  If they could, why couldn’t I?

The result is that I went to college, obtained two bachelor of science degrees and a minor, graduated magna cum laude, and did it in 4 1/2 years while working 30-40 hours a week at 2-3 different jobs.

I was one of the best and the brightest, yet I didn’t see it.

Are you in that situation?  Are you one of the best and the brightest and don’t realize it?  Would you have greater success in your life if you recognized that you are capable of achieving it?

Are there girls in your life (daughters, granddaughters, nieces) that might be in that situation?  Do they realize that they are one of the best and the brightest, that they can do anything they want?  Would some encouragement from you help them see themselves more clearly?  (And remember that boys need encouragement, too.)

Often, the thing holding us back the most is our own self-perception.  We can change that!

Aim Higher

Blog Drawing SquareI recently attended my 40th high school reunion.  During a conversation with a friend since elementary school (not an old friend—neither of us are old!) I was reminded of something one of the high school guidance counselors told me many years ago.  He explained it differently than I will here, but the concept is the same.  (Since we were face to face, he could talk with his hands as well.  That doesn’t work so well in a blog.)

Imagine a vertical line.  Near the top of the line is point A.  Around the middle is point B.  Near the bottom is point C.  He said that he would rather see students aim for point A and only achieve point B than to aim for point C and achieve it.  Even if they don’t achieve point A, by achieving point B they will have achieved more than if they settled for point C from the beginning.

At the time, I couldn’t begin to realize how important that concept is.  At least I grasped enough that it encouraged me to go for a bachelor’s degree rather than an associate degree after graduating high school.

I hate to admit it, but there have been times in my life when I did not try for point A because I did not think I could make it.  Sometimes I aimed for point B and got it, but sometimes I settled for point C when I could have done more had I aimed higher.

Have you done this?  Are you doing this now?  Could you achieve more if you aimed higher than you thought you could achieve?  What could your life be like if you did?

College Bound

1, SF_52WeeksOfWisdom_FINAL COVER_022215, front_edited-1, squareFarrell_Don'tActLikePrey_FULLCOVER_FINAL_090714, cropped_edited-1Are there any women in your life that are going to college this fall?  Someone who has graduated from high school and is starting the next phase of her education?  Someone who has been in the “real world” for awhile and has decided that a college degree is what she needs to accomplish her career goals?  Someone who is going back to college for an advanced degree?

If so, my books would be great gifts to let them know you are thinking of them, as well as assisting them in meeting their goals through self reflection.

Don’t Act Like Prey! A Guide to Self Leadership for Women uses stories and metaphors to discuss the costs of being passive, the costs of being aggressive, the benefits of being assertive, and how to find the delicate balance of assertiveness.

52 Weeks of Wisdom, A Guide to Self Leadership for Women provides 52 short stories to encourage the reader to think about what she does, why she does it, and does she want to change.

For additional information, and to order from your preferred supplier in your preferred format, go to SusanLFarrell.com.