Your Ooh-Aah Moment

Thirty-five minutes into our hike into the Grand Canyon we hit the scenic vista.  We were the equivalent of 76 flights of stairs down and my quads, already quaking, would need to take on the harder half of the route – UP – on the way back.  But the kids weren’t complaining nor was my husband and so neither would I.  Certainly not considering the scenic in front of us.

The view from this vantage point was tremendous and we stopped to take it in and snap a few photos.  It is, understandably, called “Ooh Aah Point” because it’s the moment when we – and all other hiking tourists that day – stopped to say just that.  Ooh Aah, look at that!  Beautiful. Amazing. Unbelievable.

Suddenly, little problems didn’t seem so big.  The air was clear, the view stretched for miles and my mind, so often racing, settled in to this marvelous place.  If I could have grabbed it and taken that feeling home with me, I would have.  Because everyone needs that “Ooh Aah” moment – the kind when you are fully absorbed IN the moment.  The view is clear.  Clarity is yours.  Bottle it up.

That’s great, Val, I hear what you’re saying, but I’m not going to be at the Grand Canyon anytime soon…

So I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to go to the Grand Canyon to find your Ooh Aah moment. You only need to be at the lookout point to find it.

Think about the last time you felt truly present, when time stood still and you stopped to admire the “view.”  I put that word in quotations because the view isn’t necessarily a beautiful vista.  It can just be that moment when everything clicks.  Ooh Aah.  You’re there.  Where were you?  On vacation?  Playing with your kids?  Nailing a presentation?  Laughing with a friend?  Watching a powerful movie?

If you’re like me, your thoughts right before these moments were probably littered with clutter, like all of those other things you need to be doing or what happened previously or what’s next or your grocery list or why your pants are so tight again.  But if you can crystalize that Ooh Aah moment and stop to consider it, you might find what makes you tick.

Long before that Grand Canyon trip, I had an Ooh Aah moment that made me stop and say just that.  I’ve worked for years in an exciting industry yet it was a decidedly unexciting moment that made me stop and go “whoa.”

Some years back I was approached by a young woman in our group who had received a job offer from a competitor, one she wanted to take as it would grow her career and locate her closer to her family on the West coast.  What should she do, she asked. As a senior woman in my organization, I often fielded these type of inquiries from other women.  Given my desire to improve women’s lives in the workforce, I took on this role willingly, even with some fascination.  Little did I know then the impact this conversation would have on me.

I knew we couldn’t counter the offer she had received and that we’d ultimately lose her to the competitor.  But that didn’t stop me from wanting to advocate for her.  I suggested she tell the hiring manager she needed the weekend to consider the offer and to note she was waiting on a counter offer from her current employer.  At the same time, I said she should ask for a higher starting salary, say, 20% more.  She was aghast.  “I can’t do that,” she protested.  “I don’t want to seem pushy.”

I assured her it was the logical next step in the process and would not be unexpected or out of line.   Most guys would ask.  What was she afraid of?  After we worked through her concerns – (The worst they can do is say no, I explained.  They’re not going to suddenly rescind the offer) – she felt better.  This was a on a Friday.  She came back to check in late day on Monday.  As I anticipated, I had not received permission to provide a similar counter offer.  No matter, she said, and informed me she was taking the new job — at nearly 10% more than she had originally been offered! She had asked for 10%, not 20%, more, as that felt more comfortable to her, and had quickly gotten an OK for a new starting salary of $65k rather than the $60k they originally offered.

Maybe she would have gotten more if she had asked for 20%.  Maybe not.  It didn’t matter.  That $5,000 may seem a small bump but it would pay dividends over the course of her career. Most importantly, her positive first experience with negotiating for herself would make her more likely to do so in the future.

She was happy.  I was too.  THIS, I thought.  THIS feels good to me.  Ooh, look at that.  Aah, that felt right.

I may never work with her again.  She may forget about me entirely.  But with a simple suggestion she stand up for her own interests, I had helped her impact her salary and set herself up for higher earnings down the road.

What does this have to do with the Grand Canyon?  It wasn’t until I arrived at Ooh Aah point that I thought about the Ooh Aah moments we have throughout our lives.  These are the moments when the vista is clear, your mission reveals itself, your positive intent feels purposeful.  Be on the lookout for it.  Bottle it up and hold onto it.

I’ve had dozens of those moments since.  Each has gotten me closer to the clarity of my purpose and the impact I can both see and sense.

Sometimes the climb out is steep.  Remember the view.

What about you?  What’s your Ooh Aah moment?  Email me for a free strategy session on how to find and capitalize on it and perhaps be featured in an upcoming column!

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