How I Addressed My Shyness

When I was young, I was a dreadfully shy child; the kind of shy child hiding behind my mother’s legs when strangers came around; the kind of shy child who wouldn’t talk to relatives on the phone; the kind of shy child who only opened up to friends after becoming comfortable with them. Opening up to someone usually took several meetings. In high school, I was routinely upset when I heard people refer to me as ‘stuck up’ because I wasn’t bubbly and easily open with new people. I painfully remember one time my mother drove me to a school dance and I sat in the car for an hour refusing to go inside. I know it sounds absurd and doesn’t make sense to non-shy people. Those of us in the know, know.

I also know, counter to popular research, I was not shy due to a lack of confidence or self esteem. On the contrary, I am very confident, accomplished and competitive. I know I can compete and excel in virtually any course or project, including sports. Just try me! My shyness was due to feeling uneasy with small talk and being uncomfortable with strangers. Once I met you, however, I would open wide up and become “Chatty Cathy.” (Do you remember the Chatty Cathy dolls?) This is probably why people who did not know me well thought I was a stuck up or a snob!

My mother forced me to compete in beauty pageants as a way of combating my shyness. It didn’t go exactly as she planned, though. I did compete in three pageants and I placed as runner up in all three, typically winning the scholastic award as well, but it didn’t stop my shyness. I suppose my mother thought being forced to stand up on a stage and perform would make me confront fears. As I wasn’t a dancer or singer (singers always win pageants, don’t they!) and I refused to play my bass clarinet as a talent, I performed stand-up comedy skits. My shyness did not interfere with my performance, much like it never affected me at work. Ask a shy person and they may agree that their shyness does not hinder them at work whether running a meeting or meeting new clients. And performing on stage did nothing to quell my shyness around people.

A lot has changed since my high school days. No, I still wear the same size clothes! But now when I tell people I am or was shy, they are flabbergasted. In fact, during my MBA program at the University of Florida (Go Gators!), a statistical analysis correlating traits from a personality test actually ranked me as the second most extroverted person in the class! How is that for a transformation? And, did I mention that I am also an engineer?! (Engineers are typically labeled introverts. Clearly, I am not!)

I remember the exact moment when I realized that being shy was stupid. I was standing in line at a bank in Fullerton, California flush with a paycheck from my new engineering job and feeling quite happy that I was not a broke college student anymore. (Boy doesn’t that conjure up memories. But I’ll save that for another blog.)
Anyway, I was standing in line going through the usual routine of doing things to look normal. Yes, that is what I wrote, “doing things to LOOK NORMAL.” I had a list of activities that I would do to look like a normal, i.e., non-shy, person. Activities like filling out my deposit slip or checking my watch while I fidgeted in line. Mind you, this was before cell phone days! Boy you guys got it easy now. All you have to do is look at your smart phone! But in pre-cell phone days, if you were shy you had to do something to keep busy. Something to fill the time to avoid the anxiety.

So I was doing my time-filling activities and that is when it happened. Standing at the front of the line was a woman whose slip (yes, we also wore slips back then too!) was showing. But she didn’t know. Or, she did and didn’t care. And that is when it occurred to me. It occurred to me that nobody cares. And, it didn’t matter. Nobody knew what she was thinking or for that matter what I was thinking. It was a powerful and freeing realization. I walked out of that bank free of limitations and free of a fear of judgments. My mom would say that is when the dragon was unleashed!

Image may contain: 1 person

I have bouts on occasion, but I have conquered shyness for the most part. I still have moments when I have to push myself to walk into a networking event or force myself to attend a party because I just feel like I don’t have the energy to deal. I am aware that it is simply my shyness coming back and usually I am able to conquer it and move forward.

I now know that EVERYONE has a bit of shyness, especially at networking events. For the most part I have conquered it and, in fact, play with it at events now. I use it as an icebreaker. Also, as I am a realtor now, I am out meeting new people constantly. (Realtors throw better parties than engineers!) The practice of meeting new people has given me more experience and an increased sense of confidence. If you have difficulty with shyness, I encourage you to go to more networking events for the experience. Also, I found that teaming up with a partner at events helps build courage. Learn to tag team at networking events and help others be comfortable and open up with you and others. You will be surprised how many more people will open up with your encouragement.

pageeant

Any comments you would care to share?

If you like my writing here, I welcome your comments and advice for future topics.

Bloggers LOVE comments!  Please LIKE and SHARE!

Namaste.

Lesley Davidson

 

 

 

 

Try This Mindfulness Technique?

aa-meditateLike many people, I have created problems in my life by overthinking. As a driven, Type A personality, overthinking comes naturally…unfortunately.  And, unfortunately (again), what we hold on the inside is manifested in our outer world.
Living in the past can create regrets or blocks.  Living in the future can create fears. Neither situation allows you to live to your potential in the present. You must be present in your present to create the life you want. One way to be present is to focus on mindfulness. Mindfulness is living in the present. It is putting the past behind us and not letting it poison our present. It is stopping the worry and dreams or fears of tomorrow where you are not yet. Letting your ego control creates anxiety. Being in the present will bring peace. This inner peace will manifest outer peace where all we create comes. Are you struggling in your outer world?  Finances? Relationships?
Controlling negative self talk and worry is hard.  The conscious brain is constantly sending thoughts which should be controlled. Mindfulness techniques control our thoughts and provide inner peace. Meditation and mantras train us to focus and control our thoughts providing inner peace.  The practice of meditation is just that – a practice. Just like a pianist is not a concerto performer without practice, a person will struggle to control their thoughts during meditation initially. Start easy. I like to start with 10 minutes focusing on breathing in through my nose slowly, feeling the air on my nostrils, and then out through my mouth, again feeling the warm air exit. With my thumb, I press my index finger and say ‘Peace.’ Then I press my thumb on my middle finger and say ‘Begins.’ Next, I press my thumb on my ring finger and say ‘With.’ Finally, I press my finger on my pinky finger and say ‘me.’  I repeat this as I breathe in and out and focus on shutting down any worrying thoughts or memories. Try it.

Any comments you would care to share?

If you like my writing here, please like and share! I welcome your comments and advice for future topics. Information helps us all.

Bloggers LOVE comments! Please LIKE and SHARE!

Namaste

Lesley

“She Is The Engineer!” And Other Things I Have Heard.

16832309_749831081872916_7132290927926339381_nWhile working on my Civil Engineering e-book, I remembered a funny story that happened to me.  As a structural engineer working for a large municipal government, I worked closely with Building Code Enforcement inspectors and Public Safety officers regulating deteriorated and/or abandoned buildings in the downtown core. Once day, I drove by an abandoned  three-story brick structure downtown and noticed that the front parapet wall was separating from the building and leaning precariously over a busy sidewalk.
I pulled over and upon inspecting the structure, determined that a collapse of the brick work was imminent.  I called our building code inspectors and public safety officers out to meet me. We had to determine how to shore up the structure and close the sidewalk. Shortly, a team of code inspectors and public safety officers started arriving at the building.
I eagerly began describing the issue and pointing out the problems. One male public safety officer stood idly by ignoring me. A building code inspector and good friend of mine from my department joined us.  Getting nowhere with the public safety officer, I left my friend with the officer and went to the other end of the building to show other newly arrived inspectors the danger. My friend stayed back with the public safety officer. She calmly asked the officer, “Aren’t you going to listen to her?”  To which he responded, “I’m waiting for the engineer to arrive.” At that point, my friend chuckled and said, “she is the engineer.”
Although this story is amusing, it is also an issue I faced repetitively as a female in the male dominated field of engineering.  I am sure this is not restricted to engineering either.  Sometimes, I let the other party think I was just an inspector or whatever they thought I was. Often, I obtained good information about the event I was investigating. But that mentality limits the talent pool and growth that women can provide to the fields referred to as STEM. Women remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce contributing to 29% of STEM jobs but only 15% of engineering jobs (https://ngcproject.org/statistics). Moreover, women in STEM fields earn approximately 33% more than non-STEM careers.
What can we do in today’s marketplace to improve conditions for female engineers?

Any comments you would care to share?

If you like my writing here, please like and share! I welcome your comments and advice for future topics. Information helps us all.

Bloggers LOVE comments! Please LIKE and SHARE!

Namaste

Lesley

Melanoma: My Public Service Announcement.

Recently, I celebrated a milestone birthday which made me make some more grr2017 2
conscious health resolutions.  Completing my second Gate River Run was one of these resolutions.  And, although I did not beat my time from 2016, I did complete the race within mere minutes of my previous time. Ya me!

Other resolutions I have made involve eating healthier (a no brainer for all of us!) and taking better care of my skin.  As a lifelong coastal resident (both left and right, or right and wrong coasts depending on your view!), I have been guilty of deeply bronzing my skin. I was a St. Johns County Lifeguard in the late 1980s before spray tans existed.

24676_1352984714834_4714916_n

Now, I am motivated to take better care of my skin including removing dark spots and wearing sunscreen – something I have never been very good at doing!  I urge the both the young and old to protect their skin and inspect suspicious spots or moles. Melanoma is a serious cancer that can both be prevented and halted. For more information on Melanoma, click the following link:  https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging.html

Namaste

Lesley

Gaslighting & other forms of ABUSE

I have had so many people ask me about this blog post.  Once upon a time, I was in an abusive relationship. If you know me and know how accomplished and successful I am, this fact may amaze you.  I have also been married to someone who had co-parenting responsibilities with an ex-spouse and communication was not always easy.
PHYSICAL ABUSE is not the most common form of abuse. Nor are abusers all MALE. Abuse is gender neutral. I am a master at seeing red flags now and hope I can shed some light by sharing this interesting post I found –
Note- Gaslighting and emotional abuse affects men and women!   For men, see:

#InternationalWomensDay Think On This!

Suppose you are in a staff meeting filled with engineers and technicians working on projects. Now, suppose two engineers, vying for a promotional position, clash over a problem project in front of a new leading director.

The problem project managing engineer, upset over having an independent engineer review his work, lashes out at the independent engineer. The independent engineer stands up for his comments regarding the problems with the project. The managing engineer later follows up with emails to the new director. The independent engineer offers to meet and discuss the problems in the project, but he is ignored.

Now, suppose you know that a junior technician had asked the independent engineer to review the managing engineer’s project because the technician’s concerns were not being heard or addressed by the problem project managing engineer. Suppose, instead, the managing engineer accused the independent engineer of overstepping his position. Suppose that the new director did not do a review of the problem project. Later, the problems, not being addressed, do indeed affect the project negatively. The independent engineer’s comments would have resolved problems and saved the project.

In this scenario, do you side with the independent engineer?  The independent engineer was attempting to help a concerned technician communicate problems that would derail the project. The independent engineer is the HERO, right? Did the director show good leadership judgment by letting the managing engineer not address the problems and review the project?

Now imagine that the independent engineer is a female and of a higher level than the problem project managing engineer and equally likely to get the promotional position. Who is the hero now? It should still be the independent engineer whom attempted to solve constructability problems and save a project, shouldn’t it?

16832309_749831081872916_7132290927926339381_nUnfortunately, this is not always the case. And, as a matter of fact, this exact scenario happened to me. A junior, male engineer lashed out at me during a staff meeting with a new director for speaking up regarding problems in his project which his engineering technician presented to him and was ignored. The managing engineer made a scene. But, was I considered a HERO? No, the new director considered me “unprofessional” because I stated my professional opinion that the project had problems. I have to wonder, on #InternationalWomensDay, would I have been the project hero if I was a man? I think so.

Until we resolve these gender disparities and discrimination, we will continue to suffer problems!

Post Script. The problems in the project were not discussed or resolved. The problem project manager did not get promoted. He eventually retired and moved overseas. The problem project engineer and I have resolved our differences and respect each other. I also did not get the position. I resigned to pursue better opportunities.

Any comments you would care to share?

If you like my writing here, please like and share! I welcome your comments and advice for future topics.

Bloggers LOVE comments! Please LIKE and SHARE!

Namaste.

Lesley

 

 

 

Use the DUCK Jar!!!

duck bestOnce upon a time, I had a reputation for having a rather loose mouth.  I worked in a male-dominated, construction-related field where everyone kind of had a loose mouth. Of course this is no excuse. I was known to throw an F bomb just as fast as the next guy. However, let me clarify that I was never one of those angry people who would curse at someone or make a scene in public. My cursing was usually just to vent some frustration or as a joke to get a laugh.

In 2008, my daughter pointed out that cursing really wasn’t funny (or smart) and she challenged me to stop cursing. She said, “We need to suck the violence out of your vocabulary.”  (That’s a great line.  Don’t steal it because I am using it in a screenplay one day. More on that later. )  She highlighted one word, since I really didn’t curse with the exception of one word I used to vent frustration.  You know the word.  It rhymes with ‘duck’ but starts with an anger-releasing Fffffffff and ends with a definitive CK!  Just saying it feels so satisfactory, kind of like how Mark Twain’s character Tom Sawyer curses over Aunt Polly’s rules.

cropped djSo as a New Year’s resolution in January 2009, I challenged myself, under pain of Cameron, to clean up my language. We had what we called a “duck jar.” Starts with D and rhymes with something I can’t say. Every time I slipped and said the ‘duck’ word, a dollar went into the jar. At the end of the year we were going to use the money from my slips to go to dinner, or something.  I joked that we would have enough to go on a ‘ducking’ cruise (OK, we live in Florida and have very inexpensive cruises!)  To make me honest, I was forced to tell those around me the rules. This included my closest associates at work. Trust me. They enjoyed keeping me honest!

It was extremely difficult at first.  I would slip up and notice it (or have it pointed out to me!) immediately.  I was super conscious about it. I realized I had to improve my descriptive vocabulary!  Cameron was right. Cursing was a lazy man’s lack of vocabulary skills! Soon, I could see the word in my mind and stop myself from saying it. It made me speak slower as I grasped other adjectives…or nouns, as the case may be.

By the end of 2009, my language was cleaned up. However, I still suffer some of the reputation of being able to sling words like the guys on my construction projects.  I’m not proud of that. And, people I have known for many years forget that I no longer curse and have not since January 2009. But people I meet now know that I don’t swear. Good thing, too, because I no longer work in construction, where it is “acceptable.”

I have been in the middle of construction jobsite fights where a contractor, red-faced screaming and cursing with spittle flying out of his mouth, harangued me to get at my client. On that jobsite fight occasion, I calmed the situation with jokes (about having CPR certification!). For many of us who curse, we know it’s just a way of venting frustration. However, it is simply not taken that way. In the face of misunderstanding, it’s better not to curse.

In my defense, I never cursed or verbally attacked a person. I am not an aggressive, confrontational person.  I think I cursed as a way to get a rise out of people, particularly as a female working in a male dominated and rugged field. Perhaps when I was young, much like teenagers act out, I realized cursing was the one thing that could get a rise out of my mom (since I was pretty much a perfect child. Ask my mom!  I swear it’s true!)  I was usually joking, but as my daughter Cameron pointed out (So smart! Score Momma!), it was NOT cool.

Cursing gets attention, but not the kind of attention you want. Trust me. Now, when I hear someone curse, I cringe. I agree with my daughter.  It IS violent sounding, even if it’s not directed at a person.  If you follow Dr. Wayne Dyer, perhaps you will recall his expositions regarding the sinking energy effect of violent, foul language.  Something to think about.  Very rarely do I let F bombs fly and when I do I’m extremely conscious of it. I’m also aware that something is frustrating me which leads me mindfulness practices.  I practice mindfulness and meditation now to improve focus and clarity and I recommend it to everybody.

So I challenge you put that duck jar next your coffee machine, tell everyone what your costadelmarchallenge is, and see how you do. I swear (pun intended), the duck jar works!

By the way, my daughter and I celebrated by going on a cruise in February 2010. The memories of Belize, Roatan and Mexico will forever replace the pain of the duck jar.

Any comments you would care to share?

If you like my writing here, please LIKE and SHARE! I welcome your comments and advice for future topics.

Bloggers LOVE comments!

Namaste.

Lesley Davidson