Being Boss

“You have to build a life you love as if it’s your job. Because it is.”

Kathleen Shannon & Emily Thompson, Being Boss

When I was four years old, my pre-kindergarten teacher wrote on my report card that I was “bossy.” I didn’t see that comment until many years later – as an adult – going through my mom’s old files about me. My mom was vigilant about building me up and helping me feel good about myself.

In their book, Being Boss: Take Control of Your Work and Live Life on Your Own Terms•, Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson define “Being Boss” as “knowing what you want and being unapologetic about it. It’s being who you are, nurturing your talents, and sharing them with the world.”


I think that’s what I was doing when I was four. When we’re young and untarnished by the world, we just are who we are. I see this all the time in the young kids I work with at camp. They are so cool, because they say what they think and share what they know. They are just their authentic, unique selves.

Unfortunately, what happened to me happens to most of us. As I got older, I began to understand that parts of my authentic self (the “being bossy” part in particular) were “bad.” I learned to mellow out on my opinions and instructions for others and adapt to what was socially acceptable. I stifled much of what made me “me” and it worked. I was acceptable and well-liked. I fit in.

But all that fitting in and adapting made me lose sight of my authentic self. I became less convicted about my values and unsure of what my talents actually were. I worked hard, achieved, and got lots of acceptance from the world, because I was doing the things that most people thought were “good.”

Thankfully, I still landed in a unique job (as a summer camp director) where I could contribute positively to the world and use my values and talents. I loved (and still love) my job, but there was more I wanted to contribute.

I took a huge leap of faith at the beginning of 2017 and invested in myself. I hired a book coach to help me find an agent and a publisher for a book I’ve been writing my entire adult life – a book that owns my experience and expertise and shares my “being boss” self with the world.

In my first meeting with Jennie, my book coach, she told me I needed to “own” my expertise. Since she offered that advice to me, I’ve passed it along to several other people. She recognized that I had vast experience and talent, but the way I was talking about myself and my experience did not express the confidence it should. I was not “being boss” of who I really am.

Own it, people! You do have something to share that is valuable and unique and only you can share it. That’s your message. That’s your talent. That’s what you were made to do. And if you don’t do that, you won’t be living your authentic, best life.

I finished reading Being Boss on a long plane flight to visit my daughter last week. I love the uninterrupted time of a plane flight to read and really digest a book. My easily distractible self can stay fully focused without internet (I will never pay for that service on a plane as I NEED that time!). I highlighted, took notes, and marked that book up from start to finish.

A few of the key ideas I am taking away from Being Boss:

• Knowing what you value

• Identifying negative habits

• Owning who you are and your values and talents with confidence and authenticity

• Taking time off

• Making a personal mantra

• Building positive habits and rituals

• Identifying energy boosts (activities that refuel) and energy drains

• Defining boundaries, like when and how often you check and answer email

• Putting your money where your “happy” is

• Creating life rules, including non-negotiables

• Celebrating both short-term goals and long-term dreams

In their Being Boss podcast episode about the book release, Shannon and Thompson said they hope their book will be marked up and left on coffee tables. I will be flipping my copy open, reading my highlights and notes, and continuing to remind myself to “be boss!” I wish I had this book many years ago, but it’s never too late to take control of our lives and live them on our own terms. And that is what I plan to do.

If being a leader, owning my expertise, and sharing ideas with others is “bossy,” then I guess I’ll have to accept that designation. Thank you, pre-kindergarten teacher, for noticing my authentic self early in life!

In Being Boss, Shannon and Thompson encourage us to finish the sentence, “What I really want to tell you is…” as a way of knowing what it is we really want to share with the world.

So, here you go.

What I really want to tell you is…

You and your kids will be okay as long as you focus on building a close, positive relationship. Take a deep breath. You’ve got this.

Simple changes can make a big difference in creating a happier, more connected family and inoculating your kids from the negative outcomes you fear.

Let’s go tackle this crazy world, one day at a time, being boss of our own lives and families!