“Everyone is replaceable.”

Sometimes I think I need to do a TED talk. I have so many thoughts and ideas about company culture, that I could probably write a book. (Add that to the list of about a dozen other books I want to write, but haven’t yet.)

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My first year teaching at Troup High in LaGrange, Georgia was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced when it comes to workplace culture. It was truly a special place under the leadership of our principal.

I think we all have opinions about company culture, and what could improve it at our respective places of employment. For me, since graduating college 15 years ago, I have worked for seven different companies, schools, organizations, etc. I’ve seen only one place truly understand company culture and how to keep its employees happy while also getting the job done.

I’m willing to bet most people have never worked at a place with excellent morale or culture.

Granted, that doesn’t mean the place of employment doesn’t SAY they have excellent morale and company culture. Actually, most, if not all, leaders of organizations are convinced they DO have it together. That their employees are happy. That everyone feels valued.

While I could go into a lot of different areas concerning this topic, today I want to talk about what I believe is one of the easiest ways to show your employees that they are NOT valued. Simply utter the words, “Everyone is replaceable.”

It’s not that it isn’t true. But just because it’s true, does that mean you have to say it?

If you found out a friend had cancer, would you tell them, “Some people die from cancer.” Yes, it’s true. Some people die from cancer. But just because it’s true doesn’t mean it has to be verbalized. Especially if it will make someone feel like crap.

Guess what? Your spouse is replaceable. Go ahead and see how they feel if you go and tell them that today. (Please, DON’T!) That’s not something you would say to someone you value and care about. So don’t say it to your employees.

Supervisors, leaders: stop saying, “Everyone is replaceable.” It makes employees feel undervalued. And guess what? Employees who feel valued do a much better job. It’s a win-win for everyone if you stop telling people they are replaceable.

Also, look at the cost of hiring someone new. If you have an all-star employee you deem as “replaceable,” and they feel undervalued and leave, you’ve now got a position to fill, which takes company time, resources, and money.

But hey, “Everyone is replaceable.”

A simple way to improve your company culture- stop telling people they are replaceable. Even if it’s true. Stop saying it.

Imagine a company culture where every employee felt valued and important, not like they could be easily replaced. An organization with a culture like that would THRIVE.

I should note that I’m not pointing fingers at any one specific place I’ve worked. I’ve heard this phrase uttered at many places.

So, leaders, consider removing the phrase from your vocabulary. Just because it’s true, doesn’t mean it has to be said. As a matter of fact, I’d even say go so far as to make your staff feel like they are IRREPLACEABLE.

 

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Christmas of a different kind

My alarm went off at 4AM. For the first time in my entire life, 38 years, I was awake at 4AM on Christmas morning. I was also completely alone for the first time, with the exception of my cat, Mr. Glitter Sparkles.

Typically Mr. Glitter Sparkles wakes me up demanding a morning treat, but this was too early for even him.

I groaned. It was Christmas morning, and I groaned. I rolled out of bed and headed to the bathroom to get ready for what would be a really long Christmas day. I threw on my Rescue Mission t-shirt, some jeans, and boots, did my hair and makeup, and headed out the door by 4:30.

Fort Wayne was a ghost town. It was dark and cold, but there wasn’t any snow. I needed Starbucks badly, but even on a regular day they wouldn’t be open this early, so I was definitely out of luck. I put on some Christmas music hoping to lift my mood, and even Andy Williams and his “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” didn’t do it.

I love my job. I love The Rescue Mission and what it does. I love that God uses us to help homeless people find and follow Jesus and change their lives for the better. But on Christmas morning, I just wasn’t feeling it. I wished I was sound asleep in Florida at my parents house like usual and not due to wake up for another four hours.

After dropping my things off in my office, I went to the lobby to greet the reporter who would be interviewing me live on their morning news show. I put on my happy face and greeted him with very convincing, “Merry Christmas!” He was genuinely filled with joy, which was slightly irritating at the time, but I didn’t let my disdain show.

“Well, I’ll do my teaser here in a few minutes. I won’t need you until around 5:40,” he said.

“Sounds great,” I replied. “I’m just going to go do some work in my office until then.”

Going back to my office meant trekking through the courtyard again, since my regular route would have been through the chapel, and the chapel was filled with sleeping homeless men. But I as I turned to head through the courtyard, I saw something I didn’t see when I came through before. I glanced down the hallway and saw homeless men sleeping on cots. As we often do, especially in the winter, we had run out of room in the chapel, and men were sleeping in the hallway.

IMG_5462Getting up at 4AM on Christmas morning suddenly didn’t seem so bad. Working on Christmas day suddenly felt like nothing. I stood and stared at the sleeping men in the dark hallway for awhile. Being homeless at Christmas. Sleeping on a cot in a hallway at Christmas. I grabbed my phone to capture what I saw, as I knew it would be a pivotal moment in the day for me.

As I walked outside into the courtyard, I began to cry. I felt super selfish for hating my Christmas morning. I woke up in my own house, in my own warm bed. I drove my own car to my job, which I love, that gives me a paycheck every two weeks. I had so much to be thankful for.

I pulled myself together by the time I went back up front for my live interviews.

“I’m here in downtown Fort Wayne at The Rescue Mission with their Director of Marketing & Donor Engagement, Natalie Trout,” the reporter said into the camera as he began the interview.

With a cherry disposition, I spoke with the reporter about how we were planning to give away more than 3,000 Christmas meals between the hours of noon and 3pm. All were welcome, whether homeless or not.

I had a few hours between my interviews and when I needed to be back at work to take photos at The Rescue Mission’s Christmas dinner and to tend to any news stations who might show up. I ran home, had my boyfriend meet me there, made some cinnamon rolls, ate breakfast, and then headed back to The Rescue Mission at around 11AM. I planned to be done by 1PM, at which time my boyfriend and I would go out for a delicious Chinese dinner.

Things did not go as planned. While the Christmas meal was turning out to be a huge success, my bad attitude somewhat returned when one particular reporter was hanging around longer than I would have liked. The other two news stations had finished, and all I was waiting for was for this one reporter to leave, so I could leave and spend the rest of the day with my boyfriend.

It was almost 2:30PM when I thought the reporter was finishing up.

“I’d like to talk to one more person,” he told me. “Maybe someone with a really great story of why they are eating here today.”

I text my boyfriend: “Who knows when I’ll be out of here. This reporter won’t leave!”

Noel, my boyfriend, was very understanding and patient. Chinese food would have to wait until I could leave work.

48427577_2175054049181395_2107974123585011712_nThe reporter ended up interviewing a man probably in his early 60’s. He was by himself, and appeared to be talking a lot to the reporter. I was thrilled, hoping this meant he was about to wrap things up. I was right.

“Natalie would you mind sitting across from him and chatting with him while I shoot some b-roll?” the reporter asked me.

“Sure,” I said, and I sat down across from the man and introduced myself. He said his name was Jerry.

“Have you been here before, Jerry?” I asked him, as the reporter walked around us taking video.

“Oh yes,” Jerry said. “I love the Mission. Many years ago I stayed here. Now I come back for holiday meals because I have nowhere else to go. But mainly I come here because there’s always someone who is willing to listen. I don’t have anyone in my life who will just sit and listen, but there’s always someone at The Rescue Mission who will.”

Then, the reporter tapped me on the shoulder, “I got what I need, Natalie, so I’m going to head out. Thanks for everything!”

With the reporter gone, I was free to go. But here was this man across from me, who just wanted someone to listen. I text Noel and told him I’d be even longer, that I had something important to do.

Jerry and I talked and talked. He told me that at his lowest point, he wanted to end his life. He drove onto the interstate, parked his car, and got out with intentions of walking into traffic. He said God then spoke to him and asked him if he really wanted his 11-year-old daughter to hear that her father was scraped off the highway. Jerry’s answer was, “No.”

The man I talked with wasn’t homeless. He has a home, a job, and a car. Jerry was just very lonely. He came to The Rescue Mission to find someone to listen, and God put me in his path. Although it meant putting off Chinese food even longer, I was incredibly thankful that for the second time on Christmas Day, God reminded me of what Christmas was all about – love for God and love for others.

It was a strange Christmas. It wasn’t what I imagined or hoped for. It was so much better. God reminded me of what’s important, and I hope to carry that with me for the rest of 2018 and into 2019.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”
Luke 2:14

Two years at one job. For me, that’s huge. And that’s OK.

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Natalie the teacher.

Newspaper reporter.
English teacher. (at four different high schools)
Marketing Assistant.
Customer Compliance Administrator. (I still don’t know what that is)
Communications Coordinator.
Director of Marketing & Donor Engagement.

You’d have to be crazy to look at my resume and not see a lot of perceived red flags. Some might argue that I’m a risky hire. I’m only 37, and I’ve already had three different careers. I haven’t worked at one location for more than two years since I graduated from Indiana University in 2004.

Until today. Today I have worked for two years at The Rescue Mission, a homeless ministry in Fort Wayne, Ind., and for the first time ever, I hope there are many years to come. I work at a job that I absolutely love. I love the people I work with. I love what I do each day. I love the people we serve. I’ve attained something few people in this world have: job satisfaction.

So was my job-hopping and searching for the right fit for me worth it? Absolutely.

There were certainly some rash decisions in there. For example, I was so determined to get out of teaching in 2012 that I accepted a job that paid almost half the annual salary I was making as a teacher. My debt skyrocketed that year. But I believe all of those crazy decisions led me to where I am now.

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Natalie the Director of Marketing & Donor Engagement.

My career is important to me. It’s been more important than starting a family. Would I rather have my own family right now, or a job that I love? I can say with certainty, a job I love. Granted, now that I have that piece in my life, I would love to have my own little family, but finding job satisfaction was apparently something I needed to attain first.

I would probably never tell a young person that job-hopping is a good idea, but if you can sit in an interview and explain each hop in a way that makes sense, you can certainly get somewhere. Clearly it never stopped anyone from hiring me. And because I never gave up on finding a career and employer that I love, I wake up every day happy to go to work.

Your career moves are your own. You can get a lot of great advice from other people, but it is ultimately your decision. Some decisions deemed “career suicide” are not always as bad as they seem.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the part my faith has played in all of this. God has always made it clear to me that what I do with my career should be honoring to Him. He also gave me the patience and perseverance over the years to not give up on finding work I love.

Today I celebrate two years at The Rescue Mission. It hasn’t been perfect. There have been days when I’ve cried in the bathroom. There have been times I’ve had to leave and go to Starbucks just to get away from someone who was irritating me. There have even been days I’ve hopped on Indeed.com.

But I haven’t touched my resume. It still reads that my most recent job was the one I was at two years before The Rescue Mission. And I don’t plan on updating it anytime soon.

Two years. For me, that’s huge. And that’s OK. I’ll never regret my journey to finding a job that I love and the fact that I never gave up on finding it.

Who wins in the “my life is harder” competition?

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When I became a YL distributor and started my own business, “enrapture”, I found out quickly that I was in the minority as a single woman and as a woman with a full time job outside of the home.

I was at my first Young Living seminar back in August when I was surrounded by mothers, the majority of them stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs). We heard from many successful women, all of whom were SAHMs. Every “success story” I’ve read about Young Living distributors has been about SAHMs. So I was curious as to whether there were any great success stories of single women, with no children, who work full time jobs away from the home. I was looking for some encouragement and inspiration!

After I asked my question, I realized what was about to follow- a backlash of, “Stay at home moms work just as hard as people with full time jobs!” and, “Being a mom is a full time job!” And on, and on.

Totally misunderstood (no one could really even give me a good answer because they couldn’t get past what they THOUGHT I said), I crawled into a hole and died. I considered leaving the seminar. I held back tears. Part of me wanted to quit Young Living completely, but I stuck it out.

Then, the other day someone posted a similar question on a Young Living Facebook group. They had a friend who wondered about the success rate of women in Young Living who work full time jobs and are not a SAHM.

WOW. The responses were horrifying. One woman even said, “I know for a fact that stay at home moms work much harder than anyone with a full time job.”

Excuse me? Have you talked to every woman on the planet to know exactly how hard each woman works at her job each day? Who are you to tell another woman that her life is easier than another?

Who wins in this competition of, “My life is harder”?

How about we stop this competition completely?

Most of the time, we all work hard. We all want to be the best at what we do, and it’s a challenge for every woman. Whether its taking care of your children at home, taking care of children at a school, running a business from home, running a business at another location, etc., etc., isn’t it always hard work?

Some people think if you’re single, you’ve got it made. You get to come home from work and relax. You have all evening to enjoy life and not worry about a husband or children getting in your way. Well, do you know how many of us would love to have that “difficulty” of a husband and children? You might be stressed out because of your children and husband, but some of us are alone with our thoughts for hours on end. When is the last time you were alone with your thoughts? It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s actually quite terrifying. So while you’re chasing your children around, trying to get them into bed and yelling at your husband for not fixing the dishwasher, there are some of us wondering why we don’t have exactly what you have. And on top of that, we have to fix the dishwasher ourselves.

Can we all agree that no matter what stage of life we are in, life is tough? As women, we work hard. We have to because there’s often something we have to prove. Instead of getting into a ridiculous debate about whose life is harder, we should focus on supporting each other, building each other up.

You may think you know someone else’s life, but most of the time you have no idea. SAHMs have struggles, and so do women who work away from the home. Both work very, very hard. Married women face challenges, as do single women. Mothers have hurts and broken hearts, just as women without children do.

We should be in this together. Let’s stop passing judgment on another woman’s life and telling her that she doesn’t work as hard as you do. You have no idea the struggles she faces.

And as far as Young Living goes, I am definitely in the minority as a single woman and as someone who doesn’t work at home. But I’m not going to let that stop me from trying to be successful in sharing products that have drastically improved my quality of life. Shameless plug: Follow my essential oil blog HERE! And “Like” my Facebook page HERE!

Giving up on “the dream”…

There are 24 hours in a day. We spend at least eight of those hours at work.

There are seven days in a week. We work at least 40 hours of that week, which leaves 128 hours away from work if you work the typical 9-5 job. Work makes up approximately 1/4 of your week. The other 3/4 are spent with friends, family, sleeping, eating, working out, and doing things we love. That is, if you aren’t too stressed out about how you spend that 40+ hours of your week at work.

1012552_business_world_4Are we supposed to be miserable at our jobs? Is finding the perfect career a lost cause? Is it a waste of time?

I used to believe in doing everything possible to find my perfect career, but my dream is fading… maybe we’re just supposed to go to work, suffer through it, come home and go on with life.

I’m 32 years old and I’m on my third career. I’ve been a newspaper reporter, a high school English/Journalism teacher, and now, a marketing assistant. Believe it or not, they do tie in to my experience, my B.A. in Journalism and my M.A. in Education.

Sometimes I feel weird when people ask me about my work history and I have to explain three different careers. I fear they think, “Wow- she can’t make up her mind!” (true) or “This girl can’t keep a job!” (not true) or even, “Give it up honey, you’re searching for a job that satisfies you and makes you happy, and it’s just not going to happen.” (maybe true) But for a long time, I didn’t care what people thought. We live one life- why not search for the perfect job for you until you find it? 1127694_woman_walking

At this point, I think a lot of us have given up on our career dreams, and we’d just like to at least find a job we don’t dread going to each day.

So is that it? Forget the dream, whatever it may be, and instead suffer through your job that gives you little to no satisfaction? To me it’s very sad that so many people get nothing out of their jobs, and they are doing nothing to fix it. On the other hand, I can see why they give up.

What do you think? Is a job just a job, or should we still try to find the career that’s perfect for each of us?