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You Have What’s Missing

Posted on by Jen Violi

You Have What’s Missing

Last week, as I scrolled through a number of sad, disturbing, or otherwise disgruntling pieces of news posted on Facebook, instead of mindlessly responding out of habit, I did something different. Which had lovely results.

My habitual responses might include: eating something with high-sugar content, complaining about the constant stream of negatively skewed news in the world, or tumbling into the Pit of Despair, which, as you might know, is not far from the Fire Swamp.

But instead, I returned to my newsfeed, and I posted this:

Urgent Newsflash: I love you. There are so many good people in the world doing amazing things with their lives. You don’t need to change a single thing about your body — it’s exquisite. Reasons to be hopeful are sprouting up like dandelions–new bleeding hearts blooming on my patio; my nephew sending me pictures of him at his first semi-formal dance and knowing my sister was the genius behind matching his tie to her sea green dress; watermelon radishes exist; I’ve exchanged at least four I love you’s and the day’s not even over yet.

I noticed a scarcity of affirmation and hope, and so I offered some. And within 24 hours, 50-some people affirmed that affirmation. I felt good about what I offered, and it seemed that others were ripe and ready to receive it.

Why am I sharing this with you? And how does it relate to looking for a job? First, I bet that you, too, often notice what’s missing. I’m also willing to bet that what you notice as missing happens to be what you can joyfully and successfully provide.

If you’re unsure about what job you’re looking for, one great way to narrow the search is to consider what you usually notice that’s missing. Is it elegance?  Organization? Warmth? Vision? We all notice different things, and our observations point directly to our strengths.

Which is why in addition to helping you figure out if you could be an excellent program manager or tour guide, whatever you come up with will also be a perfect item to include in a cover letter.

One of the best definitions of leadership I’ve ever heard is this: Leadership is presence-ing what’s showing up missing.

I love that. We can be leaders in our own job searches, job creations, and lives by offering that which we see is missing. I often notice when affirmation, a big picture perspective, and playfulness are missing, and those are exactly the things that create opportunities for me to be a leader as a friend, colleague, and writing coach. Those also happen to be the things I love to offer.

As another example, local artist Theresa Pridemore has taken on a bold and vibrant project and launched a Kickstarter page to support it. She’s creating The Portland Tarot, a whole new deck of Tarot cards, with her original artwork, combining photography and painting, and using the people and places of PDX to populate the cards. The art she’s making is incredible and unique.

Although lots of other decks of Tarot cards are available, what Theresa noticed missing and “what she craved most was a deck for everyday use — for things like business and career questions or issues around love and friendship in the Internet age.” So she’s making that deck, card by card. The heart of her shines through in each piece. So does her joy in the process.

I’m not going to be in charge of creating a new deck of Tarot cards, and maybe you’re not going to be in charge of affirmative newsflashes. But you can be in charge of something, and through that, share part of your essential self. The rest of us need it, and you will probably be delighted to share it.

So how might you let the heart of you shine through? What do you notice most often as missing? How will you offer that as a candidate for a job? How might you use that observation to your advantage?

Image provided by Theresa Pridemore

Jen Violi
Jen Violi is the author of Putting Makeup on Dead People, a finalist for the 2012 Oregon Book Awards. She also wrangles manuscripts and mentors writers, helping them to bring forth the books they were meant to write. Although Jen was born in Pennsylvania, she’s always had a little west coast in her soul, now content amidst the green and caffeine of Portland, OR. One of her superpowers is making dipping sauces. Find out more at
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  • Thank you for this post Jen, I absolutely love it. This resonates with me so much. I’m often the one that points out how eco-friendly or NOT eco-friendly an event is and the things organizers could improve on. My friends and family always tease me, “You should be in charge Heather!”….Maybe they are onto something. 😉

    • jenvioli

      Thanks so much, Heather! So glad it resonates. And I would totally agree–your friends and family ARE onto something. I wonder if there are any eco-friendly event consultants out there–I bet that could be a great niche.

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