#SWAAYthenarrative
Lifestyle

I wrote Be That Unicorn: Find Your Magic, Live Your Truth, Share Your Shine for one simple reason. Because I could feel the need for it in the world. Life is not easy. Hopefully it has lots of opportunities to be happy, fulfilling, and fun. But easy, it is not.


For as long as I can remember, people have told me that talking to me or spending time with me always makes them feel really good about themselves and how they are making their way in the world. The truth is, most humans have two very basic desires that need to be fulfilled— they need to be heard and they need to be a part of the herd. I wrote BTU so they could feel both whenever they needed that extra little push up the hill of life.

You can read this book all in one or you can delve into a section at a time as you need it. You can read it in order or you can jump around. It covers everything from working to playing and living to loving.

Be that Unicorn is all about living authentically and unapologetically. That Unicorn is herself— no more and no less.

It's about learning how to take care of yourself, others, and the world at large without losing yourself or hurting the people around you. This is the book that will remind you that life is not all ribbons and roses, and that's okay. This is the book that will remind you that sometimes you're going to want to spend a whole Saturday in bed, and that's okay. This is the book that will remind you that you're always okay even if nothing else seems to be okay. In the end, it's all okay.

The cover for Jenny Block's Be That Unicorn

Too much of life, especially when it comes to work, is about leaning in or sucking it up. Too much is about having to always turn our hobbies into hustles. Too much is about either climbing over other people or never getting the promotion and the recognition we deserve. There's nothing in between.

Be that Unicorn: Find Your Magic, Live Your Truth, Share Your Shine is about accepting the truths, pushing the boundaries, and finding your own happiness defined, cultivated, and curated by you.

This book is about, well, you and That Unicorn inside of you who everyone will adore if you'd just give her a chance in every aspect of your life, even at the office…

From Chapter Three of "Be That Unicorn. Find Your Magic, Live Your Truth, Share Your Shine"

How To BTU When Working

Perhaps the hardest place to be That Unicorn is at work. Even if you're one of the lucky ones who love their jobs, work is hard. Otherwise, as the saying goes, it wouldn't be work. But not allowing yourself to be distracted by other people's less-than-unicorn-worthy behavior and instead going full unicorn yourself, even when you'd rather go the way of the snake, can help you to feel good about what you do, as well as make it easier to get the job done.

In the work world, there are two kinds of people: those who make the most of it and those who make the worst of it. Ironically, the latter are actually making jobs they hate even harder for themselves (and probably their coworkers). We've all heard that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. Even if that isn't true literally, it certainly is figuratively. It reminds me of when I was a kid and my parents would take me to some museum or fort or another place I did not want to go. I would drag ten paces behind, stomping and grumbling and crinkling up my face.

"You can spend the day being all grumpy, and the rest of us will happily ignore you. Or you can act like you're having fun and, before you know it, you just might be," Daddy would say to me. I hated to admit it, but he was right. I would find something about the place I liked—buttons to press or photos of bank robbers or whatever. I would throw myself in, and, before I knew it, I was in the gift shop, eating ice cream and saying, "That was kind of fun."

I've done the same thing with several jobs I've had that I really didn't care for. Some days, doing that feels more natural than others. Some jobs make it next to impossible. But I know that adding to the problem with my own crummy attitude really doesn't make things worse for anyone but me. Admitting that is the worst. Sometimes I want to complain and stomp and grumble and be altogether unpleasant to be around. But you know what? It makes people not want to be around me. Go figure. And the only thing worse than doing a tedious job you don't like is having to do it alone.

Being That Unicorn can also make it easier to land a job. My dad says I've never gotten a job for which I'm qualified, so I suppose I've always been a unicorn. I figure, with a little magic, I'll be able to figure it out. And so far, so good. A unicorn says, "Yes." A unicorn says, "I can do that." And then a unicorn figures it out. Sure, this won't work for being a brain surgeon or a commercial pilot. But there are a plethora of jobs for which it will work. And if you already are a brain surgeon or a commercial pilot, it can certainly get you to the next level in your career… whatever that might be!

Unicorns also have a tendency to reinvent themselves. I've been an actress, a law student, a production assistant, a college professor, an artist's model, a dance teacher, a camp activities director, a speaker, and, of course, an author and writer. I wanted to do all of those things. I knew deep down that I could do all of those things. So I used my skills at one job to help me to get a position in another. If you look hard enough, almost every job shares a certain number of skills with others, including positions that aren't particularly similar.

Working takes work. There's no getting around that. Just like with everything else, the only things we can change are ourselves, our attitudes, and our reactions. So you have to ask yourself, "What's it going to be?" If your answer is the way of the unicorn, you're already on the right track.

Excerpt from Jenny Block's Be That Unicorn (Mango Publishing, 2020)

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.

Pre-Read

When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.

Highlight

Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.

Summarize

If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.