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What Combat Carl Taught me About Being Relentless.

I admit it. I'm really just a kid at heart. One who loves all things Disney. So, when Toy Story of Terror was released, I was thrilled. Some of my favorite characters returned for an all new spooky adventure, and Combat Carl played a pivotal role. His signature catch phrase "Combat Carl never gives up, Combat Carl finds a way!" coupled with his sticktoitiveness in the face of adversity inspires everyone's favorite cowgirl, Jessie, to overcome her fears and save the day.

This year, as I was watching the film with my kids I was particularly struck by that line. "Combat Carl never gives up, Combat Carl finds a way." I began to wonder: when faced with a difficult situation, do I persevere? Do I panic? Do I fold? The answer my friends is that it depends.

When it comes to fighting for others, no question Marnie never gives up, Marnie finds a way. In fact, this tenacity earned me the nickname Hurricane Marnie, for better or worse. Whether it's negotiating provisions of legislation that favor my client, securing adequate funds to cover the costs of a high profile event or figuring out what to do when a keynote speaker backs out at the last minute, I can be resourceful, persistent, and creative. Not to mix metaphors, but I'm like the Borg. Resistance is futile. (It's best to note this now, it'll save us a lot of time in the future if you find yourself on the other side of an issue with me.)

But, when it comes to advocating for myself, that's a whole different ball game.

Not a fun realization. Yet it's one many women find themselves coming to. We fight for our families, we fight for our communities, for causes that touch our hearts, for our teams or our projects. All. Day. Long. But when it comes to standing up for ourselves, for saying what we want without apology, to making sure we get what we need to stay whole and fulfilled somehow the words stick in our throats, we start to second guess our value and question our self-worth. So how do we take a page out of Combat Carl's book without being labeled -gulp- the b-word? How do we turn people's perception, and our own, into the other b-words:

Bold. Brave. Bright.

Here are my Top Ten Tips for Being Relentless

1) Repeat after me, "That's not going to work for me." Memorize this sentence. Use it whenever you are faced with a situation that would compromise your position, your ethics or your schedule. Then watch others try to regroup. (Thanks Auntie Pat!)

2) Get comfortable with "No." When you say it be firm but polite. No is a handy word and one that is underused by those of us who are used to piling too many things on our plates and trying to accommodate everyone around us. But, judicious use of the word no can work miracles.

3) Silence is golden. When we are uncomfortable, we tend to fill the space between positions with words. While talking may make you feel less awkward, it dilutes the strength of your argument and often leads to the dreaded negotiating against yourself. So ask for what you want and then be quiet. Resist the urge to justify or explain. If there is silence, embrace it as a time for reflection.

4) Until it's a "No" it's a "Yes". I'm a glass half full kinda girl, so I always look for the silver lining. Moving forward as if you have already carried your point or succeeded in your quest often creates the momentum that leads to a win.

5) Life is a self-fulfilling prophecy. How we talk to ourself and what we picture in our head have been shown to impact our outcomes. As cheesy as it sounds, Stuart Smalley knew what he was saying. "You're good enough, you're smart enough, and gosh darn it people like you." And, like Jessie in Toy Story of Terror, if you keep telling yourself that you never give up and you find a way, well something magical happens. Suddenly you find an inner strength and resourcefulness you didn't know you had.

6) You're either at the table or you're on the menu. The first step in fighting for yourself is to make sure you have a seat at whatever discussions may be taking place that are relevant to your future and your goals. Allowing these conversations to take place without you is tantamount to giving people permission to ignore you or take advantage of you.

7) If you don't stand up for yourself, no one else will do it for you. Once you're at the table, never apologize for looking out for your interests and making decisions that protect and further those interests. Take a page out of politics and have your "ask" ready before you meet with a decision-maker.

8) Anyone can have a job, but if you want a career you have to make it happen. A wise friend once challenged me to picture what I wanted my life to look like five loooong years into the future. Then he asked: what are you doing today to make that picture a reality? Talk about an "ah ha moment." The biggest mistake we make is thinking that those two things, today and tomorrow, are totally unrelated to one another when in fact where you end up is the result of all the little choices you make every day.

9) Don't lose the lesson when you fail. Because you will fail. But, like everything else in this world there is a right way and a wrong way to fall down. So when things don't go your way, take a moment to examine the situation. Your attitude. Your preparation. Your team. Your execution. Your follow-through. Chances are there was at least one area where you could do better. Own it. Use it to fuel you in your quest for greatness.

10) Never. Give. Up. The best way to be relentless is to persevere in the face of any and all nay-sayers, haters, curmudgeons, and inner critics. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and hold your head high. Because here is the truth I have found: when you believe in yourself, an amazing thing happens...others will too.

What's your tip for being relentless? Have you faced adversity head-on and come out on top? Do you have a secret for taking charge when you feel overwhelmed? Leave a comment>>

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