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Friday, March 26, 2010

Set up for Success

I had a great day yesterday--I did a career presentation at a jr. high school, which is always fun, but in addition to the kids I had a mom and a couple of teachers come into the presentation. The mom, Wendy, will be attending the LDStorymakers conference and I had the chance to chat with her about her writing, which is always inspiring to me. I just love people with passion and hearing about theirs sparks my own.

After the career day I got to be part of the ribbon cutting for Deseret Book's "Flagship" store in Downtown Salt Lake. I arrived feeling a little awkward, not realizing until I rushed in, heaving due to the run in heels I'd just finished, that it was an open house. I wasn't late and didn't need to risk life and limb to get there. And I didn't recognize anyone. So I started wandering, feeling out of place and telling myself not to. The first person I recognized was Michael McLean. I didn't know him, but I knew who he was. He was talking to a cute blond. I continued browsing. I saw Sheri Dew, but I don't think she knows who I am--Emily Watts does, though, and I chatted with her for a minute. Leigh Dethman is an employee at Deseret Book Corporate who just always seems to be helping me out. I got to chat with her...and then wandered again, wondering if I shouldn't have come. I was feeling like the loser wanna-be kid and wished I'd bribed my husband to come with me. This went on for about fifteen minutes and then I turned a corner just as Micheal McLean (blond-less) adjusted his name tag. He looked at me and asked if it was straight.

"Um, yeah," I said, not knowing what else to say. He immediately put out his hand and introduced himself. I said I was pleased to meet him and asked how was he doing.

"For a middle aged clinically depressed type two diabetic, I'm doing great!"

How do you not laugh at that? He asked about me, had me show him my books, showed me his book/CD (Mission to be Happy--very cute) and essentially removed all my awkwardness, introducing me as his new BFF. I met Grant Neilson from KSL as well as a few Deseret Book (heretofore referred to as DB cause I'm tired of spelling it) employees. Not long after that the 'cute blonde' he'd been talking to approached me. Turned out she was Jaime Lawson with LDS living magazine. She talked to me about a fun project she'd like to do with my Sadie books, and then I completely monopolized her so that I didn't have to be alone again. We got our yummy lunch, I met the rest of the LDS living staff, learned more about Jaime and got to see the ribbon cutting. Michael and I swapped books, I said hi to a few more people and then headed home--glad to have gone, gladder to have had Micheal and Jaime to make it more comfortable for me.

After a blessed 30 minutes of peace and quiet, the kids came home and the afternoon games begin. I chauffeured and shuffled and wrote checks and dropped off recycling and assigned chores and cleaned the kitchen--typical stuff, then I got to go to the office and have my write nite while Lee held down the fort. My write nite partners, Nancy Campbell Allen and Jen Moore, came as well and I made some progress with my revisions, cleaned up some e-mail folders and toured blogs--I have been horrible on reading other blogs lately, shame on me.

And after I got home and snuggled into bed I thought about the day and something Micheal had said. He has a blog that he started January 1 2010 where he writes one thing for each day that made him happy. He said that even on tough days there is usually something beautiful or inspiring or kind that he's seen or done. I thought over my day--there were a lot of good things. But the thing that stood out was when I was teaching the career day and going over things writers needed in additon to being able to write. One of those things is confidence. Telling a fourteen year old kid to be confident is kind of like trying to explain the color red to a blind person. Even if they have it, they don't really know they do. And it's something I've struggled with and continue to struggle with all the time. Even if I'm confident in one area, I'm always feeling not-quite-right about several others, and yet I can see the growth within myself. As I looked at those kids and remembered 14 I was a little overwhelmed with all the great things I have in my life--and I realized how essential confidence is to all those things. That was the moment that stood out to me today--both a realization of my own relationship to the topic and the chance to advise these kids on how to find it.

So, how do we find 'confidence'--well, I have an easy answer. You might even call it simplistic, but it's what worked for me and it's what I look for every time I feel my confidence waning--the key to confidence is by succeeding at something. I'm not saying big things like climbing Everest or learning a foreign language--those things are actually an accumulation of thousands of little successes. I mean little things like walking a mile or learning how to say hello in Italian. Find something you CAN do, and do it. When you achieve it, celebrate it. One way to celebrate is to have a reward for yourself, another one is to find other people who will celebrate with you, a third one is to write it down. If nothing else, post it as your status on facebook--your friends will cheer you on and you'll gain confidence by making note of what you've done well. DON'T get caught up in the "It wasn't enough" or "I should have done THIS" just enjoy what you DID do. Sometimes it's setting a goal and accomplishing it, other times it's just realizing you did something well when the opportunity presented itself. If it is a goal, make sure the end result isn't dependant on someone else, like "I will take first place" or "I will convince my husband to rub my feet" you have limited control over those types of situations, and if you fail, then you can affect your confidence in the negative. Beat your own time, speak nicer to your husband, submit your book (don't set the goal to get it published in 30 days), put on make-up that day, lose five pounds--things in your power. And, again, celebrate!

Here are my successes from yesterday:
*I had the right time, day, and location for the career day! YEAH ME!
*I was on time and my power point worked! YEAH ME!
*Michael McLean now knows who I am! YEAH ME!
*I get to do a project with LDS Living! YEAH ME!
*I got the piles of recycling off my back porch! YEAH ME!
*I helped KB finish a stupid school project we put off until the last day! YEAH ME!
*I did a write nite without Coke Zero! YEAH ME!

So, this morning I went to Michael's blog to see what his happy moment was from yesterday. No, it wasn't meeting me--it was his grandson going poop in the potty for the first time :-)

Now, what's your "Yeah Me" and what are your ideas on how we can grow our confidence in ourselves?


Unknown said...

Josi, I always love your blogs but this one really hit me today. Just so you know, I'm celebrating with you. "Yeah Josi!!!" (((hugs))) Way to go!

Carolyn V. said...

Josi, this is such a great post. I had no idea you felt like that on certain occasions too (you are so cool). I think confidence comes from trying to do something and succeeding, even if we risk rejection. =)

Amy said...

You know what's funny? Out of all the amazing things you wrote in this post, all the incredible advice that I'm totally taking to heart, and all the wittiness that made me want to put this blog on my blog's "blogs that are quite smashing" list, one thing among many that stood out to me is the imagery of running in heels. You're hilarious.

The fact that I can walk in my egregiously tall-heeled shoes without breaking my ankles (knock on wood) is my confidence booster!

Thanks for visiting my blog, Josi. It really meant a lot to me, especially coming from an author that I respect. I have a new blog I'd like to share with you. It's a story blog. It's at

Thanks again for such an awesome post!

Tyson and Dawn Jolley said...

Great post...YEAH YOU! Explaining confidence can be easier said than done, but in your case, I don't see how you can't be confident! You have these amazing Sadie series books that I love! I usually don't like to read books, but the day these come out on the shelf, I am on my way to pick them up. They are so clever and the best books I have ever read! I enjoyed meeting you at one of your book signings too. Thanks for making the Sadie's series and being confident enough to continue!!

Leigh said...

So glad you made it to the opening. Sorry I was so crazy, but glad we had a minute to chat.

L.T. Elliot said...

A very hearty "YEAH, JOSI!" Because this post kicked trash all over the place.

My "Yeah!" moment? I realized today that it's been nearly 6 months since I quit caffeine. Yeah, me!

An Ordinary Mom said...

I needed to read this post today. It has been a rough week, but I need to look at the things I did do. I did go to the gym 5 days this week to work out. I did keep the kids alive and fed all week while my husband was out of town :) !!

Cranberryfries said...

That all around was a fantastic post. I'm glad the event turned out to be fun and you got to chat with great people. I love going to those social things but it's so hard going in alone and hoping to find someone to talk to. If you ever need a buddy call me! I'd love the chance to get to hang out with you. :)

Your confidence part was spot on! Perfect advice and so well put. I think we all need a little reminder to cheer ourselves on and know that we're great.

My yeah: Yesterday I finished my first quilt that I created all by myself.

Krista said...

Wonderful post and a fabulous day! Thank you for sharing.
My moment? I said something funny and my teenager laughed and told me I was funny. Truly a "Yeah" moment!

Grandma 'D' said...

I had the privilege of reading JOSI KILPACKS blog..Yeah ME!! Am a little jealous though...I love, love, love, Michael McCleean. I am going to try to be more confident...believe it or not , that is one of my weaknesses. Thanks for the insight.

Anonymous said...

Yeah You is right! Thanks for the great, inspiring post!

My Yeah me moment for today: I called someone in another state, and asked questions, as research for my latest book. I actually felt like a true-blue writer as I talked about my character, and what I needed to know on her behalf. I hung up the phone with a big smile on my face.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Josi - This is an excellent post! I really glad you shared how you felt when you first arrived at the grand opening. I often feel that way. I try to look confident, but often feel like a dweeb instead. =) Finding a friend (new or old) is so comforting and really eases those nasty feelings. I love you "Yeah me!" idea. Today - my "yeah me!" was finishing the final edit on my book. It's now off to the line editor, then to typesetting. I should have the galleys next week, then it's off to print. Wowwy! It's overwhelming how quickly it's all coming together!

Julie Wright said...

You rock. I can think of tons of Yeah Josi! moments. You are inspiring