By Diana Miller
We all have stories. How profound is yours? How fulfilling is yours? When your time is up, will you leave behind a story people will remember that you are proud of?
So here begins my story . . .
I was raised in the United States by two immigrant parents, in a non-English speaking household. My father had an 8th-grade education, and my mother only completed 6th grade. I grew up being told you should stay home, cook, clean, be a good wife to your husband, and raise your children. It sounded endearing and promising—until one day it didn't.
One sunny day, my parents, two sisters and I were sitting around the table eating lunch when my siblings and I came up with a great idea. We said to our father, “Why don’t you clean up after lunch today for a change, and give mom a break?” Our father responded, “Sure, why haven’t you asked before?” With those words, our father picked up the four corners of the tablecloth crashing glasses and dishes to the center. He tossed the tablecloth, broken dishes and all out the back door and into our yard. Our father looked at us and said, “Look how fast I clean up! Next time, ask me again. I have three daughters and a wife, and you expect me to clean up?”
Needless to say, we weren’t happy the remainder of that day; however, we understood why he did it. It was because that was how he was raised and that was what he knew. We still love him in spite of the incident, and to this day, all three daughters will proudly say that he is our role model and biggest hero. Thirty years after the tablecloth incident (which we still laugh about today), by working several minimum wage paying jobs and lots of overtime, our Dad was able to pay for three college educations, buy us our first cars, and pay for three enormous Jersey weddings.
If you want results and fulfillment, don’t let excuses get in your way! If you have a passion, a dream, a goal, do not let anyone or anything stop you. Think about the things you can control, do not dwell on the things you cannot. I did not try to change my father growing up; I just changed the way I dealt with his rules. Here are some of the lessons I have learned along the way, both personally and professionally.
Stop making excuses.
First things first, get the negativity and all of the excuses out the door. Start with the positive, and with the things that interest you, and that can lead to results. Sometimes we spend too much time trying to battle the obstacles instead of merely looking for new paths to get the results we want.
Impact others in a positive way.
The more of a positive impact you have on others, the more likely it will return full circle. People tend to want to be around other people that make them feel good, and then in return, will support them. Build your circle of supporters and the impact will be tremendous.
Step out of your comfort zone. Be vulnerable.
We are only on this earth for a limited time. Don’t wait until tomorrow when an opportunity arises today. We don’t always know it’s an opportunity until we try things out of our comfort zones. Failures are just as important as successes. If you don’t play the lottery, you are never going to win it.
Communication is key.
You may have all the answers, however if you can’t communicate them to the right people, you will not get the results you are looking for. Make sure you are heard, and your message is clear.
What are the results you really want, not what others want for you? If you don’t know, it is okay. Explore different options. If you cannot be honest with yourself, you are just running in circles. Show your integrity and be honest and open.
Learn to listen.
The quicker you learn to listen, the quicker you learn to hear. I don't mean you should do whatever everyone else tells you, it means listen and use your own judgment!
The best way to become an expert is to teach others. Being an expert keeps you on your track, and it earns you creditability. You will be taken more seriously, as well as respected. There is a correlation between effective teaching and achievement.
In summary, think big picture. Define the results and life you want to achieve, and then break it down into small steps. Start at the end, and work backward. Although I was raised to believe I should stay home, cook, clean, be a wife and raise children, my father always realized the importance of education. He taught us subtle lessons along the way. He taught me to realize I wanted more. One of the results I wanted was to have a successful career and make it to the top. So I started one step at a time, with small successes along the way. First, graduate college, second, pass the CPA exam, third, climb the corporate ladder, fourth, have kids and a dog while continuing to work and ascend the ladder, and finally, become the first female, ‘home-grown’ Wiss partner. Perseverance. What are the results you are going after? How will you be remembered?
In loving memory of my beloved mother, who passed away last year and truly opened my eyes to life.
Diana Miller has over 18 years of experience in public accounting, serving a plethora of clients in not-for-profit, higher-education, government and commercial organizations. If you would like to speak with Diana, you may reach her at 973.994.9400 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.