What Amy Poehler Taught Me About Professionalism
Work + Life Balance

What Amy Poehler Taught Me About Professionalism

by Jherell Drain
November 05, 2015

LIFE LESSONS FROM ONE OF TODAY'S QUEENS OF COMEDY? YES, PLEASE! 

Whether you’re a fan of her work in Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live, or any of her gut-busting movies, we can probably all agree on one thing about Amy Poehler: she always keeps it real.

No matter how outlandish her characters are, there’s always a sense of authenticity in anything that Poehler does. And it’s this authenticity that permeates her first book, Yes Please.

Yes Please is filled with funny anecdotes and advice that prove just how relatable she is. Because we may not have any Emmy nominations on our resumes, but we can all relate to doing hard work and, sometimes, dealing with unfortunate circumstances every now and then.

Poehler gets it. Most importantly, she’s honest about it. Here’s how 329 pages of Poehlerisms can teach us to make sure there’s a level of transparency in our own (professional and personal) lives.

IN OUR PROFESSIONAL LIVES

Let’s be honest here: We’ve all been asked those pesky questions that make it seem like we have no idea what we’re doing with our lives.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? What’s your plan?

Sure, some of us may have concrete answers to these questions. But then there’s the rest of us who, honestly, haven’t figured it out yet.

Consider Poehler’s suggestion: “I think we should stop asking people in their twenties what they ‘want to do’ and start asking them what they don’t want to do.”

Even as a college graduate in a stable full-time position, I’m still unsure what I want to do with the rest of my life. But instead of being embarrassed about it, I’m confident that at least I know what I don’t want to do. To me, that’s just as important as having a clear-cut to-do list for the next decade.

IN OUR PERSONAL LIVES

We’re all familiar with the disparity between who we are and who we wish we could be. In a perfect world, I’d eat everything in sight with the appetite of one hundred hungry hippos and still show up to classy events looking like Sofia Vergara. But this is reality, and I have flaws just like anyone else.

Poehler suggests that embracing the qualities and skills we actually have now will lead to overall happiness. “Decide what your currency is early,” writes Poehler. “Let go of what you will never have. People who do this are happier and sexier.”

Instead of lamenting over her so-called “plain face,” Poehler uses it as the perfect improvisation tool during sketches. She focuses on what she already has (not what she lacks) to do what she loves.

What would happen if we all had that mentality? I may not have a “perfect” figure (whatever that is), but I do have talents that I can use to do great work. Honestly, that’s good enough for me.

IN BOTH

We all know people who have taken different paths than our own, often in an enviable, Instagram-worthy direction. They decide to take the next year off work to travel while we’re still debating what to eat for lunch today. They announce that they’re starting a family while we’re still just trying to find a nice date. Sometimes seeing someone else’s life take a different course than your own can make you second-guess your decisions.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, recite the following: “Good for her! Not for me.” According to Poehler, this is the motto women should constantly repeat to themselves. Your goals and accomplishments don’t have to mirror anyone else’s. Instead, we should be confident in our own accomplishments while also appreciating those of others.

To me, Poehler’s advice makes perfect sense. In the end, if we can’t even be honest with ourselves, who can we really be honest with anyway?

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Have you read Poehler’s book? What are your favorite takeaways?