By Mary Ann Faremouth, CPC
After eighteen months of isolation, I have found myself reflecting on experiences from the past that have taught me important life lessons. At the time, I didn’t think the moments were that significant: participating in family traditions, talking with my grandmother on the front porch, or even just watching her make a good meal. Yet these experiences have become very dear to me, and I consider the lessons I learned from them recipes for success. Each has produced personal and professional growth for me and has far-reaching applications.
My maternal grandparents were Italian. They lived next door when I was a child, and I spent a lot of time with them. My dad’s parents, who were Maltese, died before I was born, but his other relatives were extraordinary folks who cared a lot about family. My dad would take us to visit his brothers and sisters on Sundays, when his restaurant was open for fewer hours.
Food has always been a big part of my family heritage. I especially remember spending time with my grandmother during the holidays, watching her make homemade ravioli, special braided breads, and her sauce she made from scratch. She would cook the latter for hours to make sure all the seasonings married and the sauce was the proper consistency.
Though I never much cared for the Christmas Eve tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, my grandmother always insisted it was an important tradition to help us appreciate the “food aplenty” we had in our current times. Such traditions brought together both sides of my family, and from them, I learned strong life lessons about togetherness, being grateful for what we have, working hard to give back to others, and appreciating relationships. Even when one relative might have said something unpleasant at the holiday dinner table, my grandmother was quick to change the subject to diffuse any negativity so we could all enjoy the time together.
The importance of food to our family went beyond holiday traditions, though. It could be found in the unlikeliest of places.
One hot summer day, I was sitting on the front porch with my grandmother, looking out over the lawn, when she pointed out several weeds with golden blossoms and lion-toothed leaves.
“See those dandelions? They are masters of survival. They can take root in places that seem little short of miraculous.” She smiled fondly. “They remind me of something the philosopher Aristotle once said. ‘It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.’ No matter what happens, I believe we all can thrive, even in the harshest circumstances.”
My grandmother went on to tell me that, in current times, dandelions were the most unpopular plant in the neighborhood—considered a weed—but it hadn’t always been that way. In earlier times, dandelions were praised as a bounty of food, medicine, and magic. She had a great recipe for dandelion salad that she would fix with the dandelions from her yard: tomatoes, onions, and Italian cheese, along with a good oil-and-vinegar dressing.
My grandmother never wrote any of her recipes down and never used a recipe book. She would go with what “felt right” to her in the moment. There was no tried-and-true method she used every time to make her special dishes. Similarly, I’ve come to realize that the methods, or recipes, of the work world we’ve used in the past may no longer apply today. These days, we have to lean more into how we “feel” and give our best effort to have the successful outcomes we desire.
I am truly grateful for the lessons of the past that have given me important ingredients to add to my own recipe for success in my personal and professional life. I am grateful for the “food for the soul” my family provided, and I know these past experiences have given me a full and rich life. I will be forever grateful, and I hope I can share these important lessons with my personal and professional family in the days to come!
Recipe for Success:
- A targeted approach to what you want
- 5 cups positive mindset
- 2 lb. research
- A calling card, or resume, that fits the algorithms of today
- An outline of your transferrable skillset
- Online courses, sliced and diced as appropriate
- Mentors / coaches / networking contacts, simmered as not to burn
- A pinch of sugar
- A heaping tablespoon of gratitude
In a pot, combine the first four ingredients. Together, these will provide the base that will help you find positions you might be interested in and fill out job applications. Define what you want to achieve so you know what to look for. Keep a positive mindset so you don’t lose hope. Research what options are available to you, even if they may not be in a familiar field. And refine your calling card so company representatives will recognize when you’re a good fit for their companies.
Add in the next three ingredients to prepare for the interview stage. Review your existing skillset to see how it might translate into new positions. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and take online courses on subjects that are unfamiliar. And reach out to mentors, coaches, or other network contacts to help you with mock interviews or to put in a good word for you with the companies you are applying to.
Sprinkle in a pinch of sugar to counteract the bitterness of the last eighteen months. And don’t take the pot off the stove until you’ve added in gratitude by way of a thank-you email to the hiring authority within twenty-four hours of the interview.
If you receive a rejection letter or a negative comment about what you could have or should have done better, respond in a positive manner. Don’t let them ruin your day or your job search. And look for ways to use your gifts and talents to give back to the world. You never know what the universe might provide in return.
Finally, remember that there is no tried-and-true method that fits every situation. As you sit on whatever virtual porch you might find yourself on now, review the lawn of your current circumstances. Take a closer look at what you might have previously considered weeds. Might they be dandelions, to make your recipe for success as tasty and successful as possible?
Mary Ann Faremouth
Mary Ann holds a CPC (Certified Personnel Consultant) credential, was certified by the Board of Regents of the National Association of Personnel Consultants in Washington, D.C., and was awarded an Advanced Communicator Bronze, Advanced Leader Bronze Awards by Toastmasters. She cofounded Jobs: Houston magazine in 1997. Mary Ann maintains affiliations with professional organizations, including oil and gas, financial, construction, IT, and structural, mechanical, and civil engineering. (www.faremouth.com)
Mary Ann’s award-winning first book Revolutionary Recruiting has been listed by Book Authority as Number #1 Best 100 Recruiting Books; #1 Best Seller, Non-Fiction, Amazon (2019); Top 20 Recruiting books, Recruitics; Readers’ Choice finalist (2019), Houston Literary Awards; Best Non-Fiction (2018), Best Cover (2019), and Best Self-Help (2018), Authors Marketing Guild. Her books support individuals and corporations, tap into each candidate’s unrealized potential to find the right person for each job, maximizing both employee satisfaction and the employer’s bottom line. Mary Ann showcases her expertise of the recruiting world on a monthly podcast for The Price of Business and weekly articles for USA Business. Her new workbook, Revolutionary Reinvention, was recently released on Amazon. Mary Ann lives in Houston, Texas.