The Unspoken Code by Marja Norris – book review

Secret handshake. Good Ole Boys Club. Neither has anything over the network of women you will identify with in this book, The Unspoken Code. What I appreciated most about reading Marja Norris’ book was her way of making her points with no hint of poor attitude. Early in the book Norris describes what she calls the unspoken code. “The code is about understanding the behaviors that differentiate power players from the rest of the pack. It’s about exuding confidence from the inside out. It’s about building assertiveness and flexing communication skills and conveying a professional image.” If that sounds on par with jumping hurdles, that’s why this book was written. Marja Norris will be your coach while you learn your way through the process of aiming high and achieving higher. You won’t read a chapter and move on. This author understands the power of commitment and sums up every chapter with a list of Things to Remember and a Plan of Action. As a result of what you learned, what will you stop doing? What will you start doing? And we all know some of what we do is already beneficial so – what will you continue doing?

The Unspoken Code flows. By that I mean the author feeds her readers what they need to know and what they need to practice before moving on to the next thing. For example, she doesn’t bait you with becoming a power player until she directs your thoughts and actions to first laying the foundation.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

Let’s start with the ABCs. Attitude, Behavior, Confidence

We could easily succumb to pressures around us and give up on choosing a positive attitude. Granted some folks are more naturally positive while others lean heavily to the negative. Still we choose our attitudes and we choose our reactions. Norris offers an excellent visualization exercise for creating a winning attitude. The truth is, “No matter what your circumstances, your attitude is a choice you make that affects everything you do.” Dovetailing with attitude is behavior which is a full cycle version of action, interaction, reaction. What does success look like? It looks a lot like good behavior: discipline, integrity, kindness, conquering fear. This leads directly in to confidence. “Confidence is being conscious of your power.” The author shares advice for overcoming Imposter Syndrome and an exercise in Creating an Aura of Confidence.  

Her chapter titled The Hole in Your Glass is Leaking intrigued me. You will instantly relate to the analogy when you read the chapter. We hold a glass in our hand with 6 holes, each representing an area of our life. Water fills the glass and no matter how hard we try, we cannot hold the glass in a way that keeps all holes covered. One is always leaking. The meaning threaded through this chapter is about living our life around our values even though we must choose to tend to one area rather than another as we scramble to multi-task. Learn about yourself as you also create a Master List based on techniques that work best for you. Remember the focus of this book is on helping you become who you want to be and have the life you want to have. It is not selfish to take care of you first. To be the best version of you, make self-care a priority.

Becoming an Office Power Player

You will learn in this section of the book, what the author experienced herself and learned from her business coach and from others. Immediately, we discover that men and women are wired differently. This means we think differently and see things from different perspectives. But here’s an absolute truth. “Despite our differences, men and women must work together effectively in the corporate world to get things done.” By the word ‘different’ we know that what starts out as differences can escalate into conflict, hard feelings, maybe a few grudges, a little gossip. Nothing good can come of that, certainly not the productive, power player that will grow your leadership and earn you a C-Suite position. Norris levels with women, “As women, to know this [differences] and understand that it’s about us shifting to fit the environment, in a healthy way is imperative.”

Dress the Part

I’m not a fashionista. Maybe you aren’t either. Whether you’ve got fashion nailed or not, the final chapters of the book are a powerhouse of tips, hints, and rules for how to dress up or dress down for the occasion. There really is a power look and even if there is no dress code, there are proper ways to dress. The author reminds women that they need to be conscious of what they are trying to achieve, what image they are portraying, and what motivates them to choose the outfits they wear. If you think the business suit has to be straight, navy blue, and unadorned, think again. Marja Norris says you can mix your personal style, fashion, and flare into your wardrobe, and this chapter on how to dress the part has strategies to help you attain the power suit look that looks like it was made for you.

“The code has gone unspoken long enough. You now have tools to handle situations you come across with strength and perseverance.”

–Marja Norris

This article first appeared on BizCatalyst360 in BizBooks.


The Standard for Extraordinary

I regularly receive email messages announcing events designed especially for women. There’s one that catches my attention every time. It isn’t that the organization is authentic and reputable, it’s the label. This label: Extraordinary Women represents ministries to women through conferences and Bible study resources.  The women of this network are extraordinary, gifted speakers, singers, and facilitators. I know a countless number of women whose gifts are in areas unlike those of notoriety, yet are truly extraordinary.

I attend a women’s Bible Study with Extraordinary Women from my home church. Together we have discovered what it means to live gracious, productive lives by practicing what we learn from God’s word. Have you ever heard of the fruits of the spirit? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22 Together we’ve also studied the audacious faith of Daniel, the practical faith of James, and recently, why Jesus is the One and Only. That’s just a few the many topics that served as the centerpieces of spiritual development for our small group of Extraordinary women.

One of the leaders is truly Extraordinary, and I’ve gotten to know her well over the past years of lessons. She lives her faith out loud through hospitality and mentoring. I think of her when I remember the fruits of the spirit from Galatians 5. There’s a sequel to that chapter and right here it is in Galatians 6:10lord do good “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” This friend listens with her heart and acts on opportunity – extraordinary.  She asked me one day to pray for the snow to melt from her driveway because she had young women coming to her home for additional Bible study. She  embraces and uses her gifts of hospitality, mentoring, and teaching while being wife, mom, grandma, and holding down a job. Extraordinary Woman. I wonder if she’s read this passage in 3John 1:5 that says “Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible.” Visible faith – extraordinary. 

I can’t count the number of Extraordinary Women I have come to know and love. God has been gracious and brought me friends of extraordinary character, extraordinary talent, extraordinary stamina, extraordinary spiritual insight, extraordinary discernment, and that barely penetrates the qualities of these women I am thankful to call friend – extraordinary.

What does it take to be extraordinary?  Well, I can think of a few things – but how about a few highlights from God’s word instead of mine?  Ephesians 2:10 “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  1Timothy 6:18 “Command them to use their money for good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” Hebrews 13:16 “Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to him.”

I don’t think God will mind if I steal this prayer from David. To all the Extraordinary Women in my life, this is for you today: Psalm 125:4 “Lord, do good to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart.”

Unmerited Favor

I have a confession to make. Today I was given an award that I didn’t deserve, but I accepted it quietly, speechlessly, and with gratitude more than I was able to express at the time. I should explain.

I spent 3 hours in the presence of greatness today. Bonnie Washburn, Brenda Benedict, and Kathryn Armstrong. These three Extraordinary Women are uniquely gifted and amazingly talented.  Trust me on this – they are awesome and they are great. I would say a lot more but I know they would make me delete my post and all that eloquent expression would be an effort in futility.

Katheryn, among her many talents is an epic blogger and writes several that I read with admiration; one of them the subject of the award I accepted without earning it.  On October 30, Kathryn Armstrong posted a contest on her blog where I could win a book by Beth Moore. I fully intended to participate.  I have read and participated in eight Beth Moore Bible studies and kept the workbooks, that pretty much qualifies me to enter the contest and be awarded a book if my entry was chosen. So why didn’t I? Competition in any form makes me choke. I choked. Something else that makes me choke is being favorited when I didn’t do anything to deserve it. So for Kathi and anyone else interested, here are favorite Beth Moore quotes from my favorite studies.

Loving God with all your mind means “We apply the principle of feeding what we want to live and starving what we want to die. In other words we start feeding the spirit and starving the flesh.” – When Godly People Do Ungodly Things

God’s primary purpose in healing us from our hurts is to introduce us to new depths of relationship with Himself. – Breaking Free

We have a choice in which fire our tongues light. Our words can bring comfort and courage or destruction and deafness. – James Mercy Triumphs

For every hopeless sorrow, if we cooperate with God, he’ll turn every single one of our failures into something useful for his kingdom. – Daniel Lives of Integrity Words of Prophecy

We have the mind of Christ but don’t know how to activate it. There are few things we need more than spiritual discernment. We need to know what to do, how to proceed, and how to respond to situations. We pursue wisdom and discernment and they don’t come to us by accident. We grow in discernment through prayer, pursuit, and practice. – Faithful Abundant True

Death cannot come to obedient children of God until they have finished their testimony. Strengthened by His power and shielded by his protection, we will reach our goal. – Jesus the One and Only

I was assured that there were two copies of the book so another was rightfully awarded to the person who did the work. When I reached out to accept the book, I realized the topic is one I have thought about studying for the past couple years, but never pursued it as passionately as God wanted me to do.  Whispers of Hope – 10 weeks of devotional prayer – by Beth Moore

Thank you Kathryn, Brenda, and Bonnie for being Extraordinary Women who have impacted my life in ways only you could do. I am blessed. Happy Thanksgiving!