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(c) 2010

OK, I’ll admit that it’s highly hackneyed of me to publish a manifesto on New Year’s Eve. I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions – who even keeps the things into February? – and this is not a set of resolutions.

My inspiration(s) for this post are vast and varied. Some are between my ears, and will remain there. External inspiration includes

This list is a line in the sand. A statement, in public, of what I will and will not allow to exist in my self, in my work, or in my proximity. Some of these have taken decades to learn. Some are very recent epiphanies. I’m not going to indicate which are which … you figure it out for yourself, on your own behalf.

#1: Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

One of the greatest skills anyone can learn is adaptability. I learned this at my mother’s knee as a 2nd-generation Navy daughter who was the New Kid almost every year K-12. I learned how to manage rampaging nuns determined to punish children because of their own sexual frustrations, how to handle playground bullies, how to show up even when the very idea of doing so scares the shit out of you.

Adaptability is a terrific tool. Taken to excess, though, it turns into approval-seeking. Since I’ve moved from one of the biggest cities on Earth to a small city that I’ve taken to calling Jimbobwe from time to time, I’ve been guilty of hiding my ferocity somewhat. Not all the time, but often enough that I don’t think I’ve served myself, or my purpose.

I will not hide my fierce. Neither will I use it as a weapon. If someone finds me too fierce, they’re not in my crew. We’ll part amicably. Nuff said.

#2: Get paid for your expertise (I call this one “move from town slut to town whore”)

Yes, the economy sucks. Yes, Wall Street has much to answer for, as does Capitol Hill. That does not mean that you should resort to either whiny-bitchery or yessuh-massah-ry. Grow a pair and GET PAID. This is particularly true if you’re a small business owner, but it’s also true if you’re working on someone’s payroll.

If you’ve got skills, exchange them for a fair price. If you’re not getting a living dollar for your work, ask yourself why not. Are you selling the wrong thing? Is your skill-set outdated? Are you simply rolling over in order not to be seen as demanding? Make this an ongoing strategy-fest for yourself. What’s your best sell, who’s your best customer base, is it sustainable. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Grrlz, this one is particularly important for you. If you’re not willing to embrace and empower your inner bitch, you’ll be eating leftovers for the rest of your life. I’m not advising you to go all Cruella DeVille on ever’body’s ass. Just don’t turn into the people-pleasing Good Girl who always serves herself last. Therein lies fiscal starvation. Take it from one who knows.

#3: Fail forward daily

Don’t let a day go by without shaking something up, even if it’s only the space between your own ears. Don’t sit passively when something you can fix presents itself. And most definitely don’t sit there clutching something that’s broken, or that needs to be kicked to the curb.

Anchors are great if you’re a ship. If you hang one around your neck, though, there’s always the risk that it, and you, will wind up falling overboard. The anchor won’t drown. It’s a damn anchor. You, however, will be most uncomfortable. Followed quickly by the aforementioned drowning. Anchoring yourself to anything but a solid set of ethical principles is crazy.

Decide. Do. If that leads to #fail, decide to move on and live to do another day. Do NOT stick with something just because it’s safe/yours/your friend’s/the-thing-you-sunk-3-years-in. Question and assess everything, every day. If it doesn’t serve you, serve it with an eviction notice.

And speaking of eviction notices …

#4: Give fear an eviction notice

I learned this in a very direct way this year, which I will forever refer to as the Year of Living Eviction-ously.

I started the year by getting an eviction notice in late January. I freaked out, and hyperventilated my way toward finding a solution. This kept up in February, and March, and April … you’re getting the drift, aren’t you? Every month turned into Panic City. Who does their best thinking in Panic City? Certainly not me.

One plus of getting monthly eviction notices is this: you get inured (look it up) to them. I did, and stopped panicking around May. It didn’t mean I wasn’t under pressure – I most certainly was – but it did mean that I stopped freaking out and started strategizing on solutions. The net-net is that I ended the Year of Living Eviction-ously without a perfect record. No eviction notice for Christmas, and it doesn’t look like there will be one  in January. See #2 if you have any questions about a working strategy here.

#5: Trust but verify. Even when it’s yourself.

You’ve spent [however long] getting yourself to where you are today. You did not do it alone, though, did you? You had help.

There are people you’ve trusted along the way to provide you with insight and advice, to help keep you on the path, to point you in the right direction if you found yourself in the weeds.

You now know it all, right? (If you answered “yes” please stop reading. You’ve just failed the Stupid Test.)

If you think you know everything, you know nothing. You’re doomed without a kitchen cabinet of people you can trust to bitch slap you, with a 5 iron if necessary, to keep you from making a bad choice. Whether it’s a client or a mate.

Trust yourself enough to assemble that kitchen cabinet, and then vet your options with them whenever you need guidance.

That’s my Manifesto for 2012. What’s yours?


Mighty Mouth 5-Point Manifesto for 2012
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