Succeeding When Success is Hard

“Your resume’ is brilliant, Lyn!” said Dr. Mona Lisa Schultz. My work history came up while speaking with her about her practice as a medical intuitive advisor and author. “What you’ve accomplished is incredible despite the fact that the systems around you didn’t support your particular mode of intelligence and creative nature.” When she said this, I paused. A phrase played through my mind:

Lyn's first day of kindergarten and Third grade class.
Lyn’s first day of kindergarten (Top) and Third grade (bottom).

“Sometimes we don’t know who we are until we see what we [have done reflected back to us by those who’ve seen us in action].”
—Adapted from words spoken by Martha Grimes, Novelist

Up to that point, and perhaps even still, I didn’t fully appreciate some of the uncanny pivot points that comprise my career (refer to the author’s note for an overview if interested).

What is not publically evident, yet lies beneath any of my successes, is a procession of personal hurdles. Truthfully, these feet, which have traveled a billion or so steps to get me to where I am today, have felt the price tag of paying their way through several painful lessons. These lessons started early…

As a child I was extremely active, challenged by a lack of patience, incredibly focused on things other than what I was supposed to be, and unable to spell my way out of a corner (spelling was difficult in part because I’m visual and my mother taught me to spell using auditory cues). I thought so far out of the box my third-grade art teacher didn’t know what to do with my ideas. She’d often request I redo art projects from scratch. And to be honest, these conditions haven’t subsided much.

To this moment, there are days when I find myself wandering and distracted. I can easily get lost in a swirling cloud of time without accomplishing a damn thing. Don’t even get me started on what can happen when I go on facebook. My thinking patterns are visual and vibrant to the point where I often have to draw and graph out ideas so my team can comprehend the vision of where we’re going. Many days I find myself distracted with up to four new tangents begging for attention yet unrelated to the day’s preplanned focus points.

It would be a lie to say I rarely struggle with scattered thoughts or overwhelm. Hence, I found it surprising to be hired by the Franklin Covey Company. This experience was a godsend and it taught me, while being surrounded by some of the best time managers in the world, that I wasn’t ever going be one of them. I wasn’t going to be able to use the Franklin Covey planning system. This is one of the reasons I studied my guts out to pass the PMP (Project Management Professional Certification). I knew I needed to retrain and recruit the left side of my brain as much as possible. I also realized I needed to formulate my own version of a time/focus management process in order to contribute effectively in this workplace.

And that’s what I did. The system I’ve come up with has helped manage the unceasing stream of ideas and thoughts that bombard my mind like a raging herd of wild horses (lest you think this metaphor is overly dramatic, ask one of my employees). It supports me to narrow the many down to a few definitive projects. It helps me remain true to my visual sense of time and activity, and still be known as responsible (versus flakey). It gives me a chance to feel success while not letting critical items fall through the cracks. It supports me to battle overwhelm. Subsequently, this process offers peace of mind and a sense of personal organization as well as accomplishment.

It’s clever enough to keep my attention, simple enough to use every day in less than a couple of minutes, and complex enough to organize a team and projects. It supports us to move together as a fairly managed team. It actually makes it possible for me to  lead the company through productive weeks and years. It has been my savior and friend, and luckily, the strategies work for clients who are like me. Especially those who know they are destined to do great things if they can just stay out of their own way and focus.

If you can relate and would like to borrow aspects of my process, please visit the blogs listed below. I’ve been asked, “How do you have your most productive weeks?” enough times that I’m finally documenting how I stay focused step-by-step. I’d love your feedback or questions in case I’ve missed a detail you’d like to understand.

Productive Week – Step One

Productive Week – Step Two

Productive Week – Step Three


Author’s Note

When I finished formal education I had a B.A., a teaching certificate and a contract to make $11, 856.25 a year. Then after 15 years as a teacher, I managed a move from academics to business with the support from my very first coach. And not just moved, but moved up quickly within a corporate structure from Writer/Content Developer, to Project Manager complete with a PMP Certificate. Next I became Associate Director of a Project Management/Innovation Center and then I was asked to be the Director of Innovation for Franklin Covey Coaching.

Today I own and operate a small business, which informally opened its doors over 15 years ago. SoulSalt, Inc., has grown to three full-time employees and a handful of contracted individuals. The journey has indeed left me well equipped to coach others through career reinvention and the like.