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Author: Ayanna Castro

Aww. How Sweet. The Answer is Still ‘No’

Aww. How Sweet. The Answer is Still ‘No’

This week I received an email from one of the parents on my oldest daughter’s middle school PTO asking me to consider joining the board for the next school year. She gave plenty of reasons why it would be a great idea: I’m passionate about my daughter’s education (true), I’m very organized and creative (true and true), I have a GREAT working relationship with the principal (also true) and she REALLY believes I would be great at it (yeah, also probably true…but). While compliments are nice, they are also the “suck you in” tactics folks use when they have no clue or don’t care how full your calendar already is. Like seriously, I will put myself in timeout if I add one more thing to my plate.

How many of you are dealing with well-intentioned folks who see how awesomely magnificent you are and want you to share all that awesomeness and help them with something? They will give you plenty of reasons why you should….Oh, it will only take a few hours a month. All of our meetings are by conference call. There’s a rotating schedule so you won’t have to do it all by yourself. I’ll be here to help you. Listen, while all of that sounds really great, the truth is, you should only commit to doing something based on your schedule and allotted mental bandwidth to take on something else. Will they be disappointed? Yes. Will they possibly give you a little bit a side eye the next time they see you? Maybe.

You, my dear, are the ruler and protector of your precious time. Don’t let sweet words and promises take you off course from managing your 168 and using those hours for what really matters and makes you happy.

With love,

 

 

 

 

P.S. How many of you tried the mind mapping exercise I shared with you last week?

The Power of Mind Mapping

The Power of Mind Mapping

Before I discovered mind mapping I used to write an endless list of the things that I wanted to do and achieve. Now granted there are some things that still need to be in a list like see your groceries or a gift list when you shopping for the holidays. But there are some things that you can not fully brainstorm on in a linear fashion. This is where mind mapping becomes helpful. It gives you the ability to see all the different tangents of a particular thought. For example, as I sit here thinking about Work Your Package my different tangents include the upcoming 4th annual conference, my next book, coaching, and speaking engagements. You might have something else that doesn’t have to do with your passion such as home repairs. So let’s just say in the middle of a piece of paper, you draw a little circle and label it “home”. You tangents may include bedroom, bathrooms, basement, kitchen, etc. And off of each tangent, you have additional points for the bathroom such as replace vanity, change wallpaper and update lighting fixtures.

Mind mapping helps you see the entire picture. And the great thing is about it there is no right or wrong way to do it. Your creativity is the only limitation to how great your map that can be. I’ve also used mind mapping for my corporate gig. I’ve used it to brainstorm several ideas for projects that I’m working on such as the corporate centennial or the holiday party. It helped me to get all of the ideas out of my head so that I was able to fully communicate with the planning committee on the next steps. And it helped the planning committee to see it visually so that they can see the full vision of the desired end result.

Take a minute or two to do a little mind mapping and get those ideas you are sitting on out of your head and on paper. I would love to see your maps. Share them with me the Work Your Package Facebook page with the hashtag #mindmap. I worked on one this morning while sitting in Starbucks in between meetings:

 

With love,

The “Aha” Moment

The “Aha” Moment

When you know your “why”, obstacles become lessons, not barriers. When I realized why my life experiences were primarily centered around encouraging others and helping them recognize how extraordinary they were, everything else started to make sense. The whispering from the little birdie no longer left me baffled and questioning my capabilities. The doors of opportunity that continue to open are no longer met with skepticism and doubt. There is a freedom that comes with realizing who you are and why you are on this earth. If you are paying attention to the little birdie, actions that may look insane to others make perfectly good sense to you. And guess what? You no longer feel the need to explain your actions. Truth is, if you are surrounded by the right people, you won’t have to. It’s not your job or responsibility to explain your journey and path. Folks are either going to support you or wait for you to fail. And guess what? You might fail the first, second or third time but I’m encouraging you to keep going until you are successful. If you haven’t figured out your “why” take a look at the repetitive requests for your natural talents. Your “why” is there and is waiting for you to discover it.

With love,

 

 

 

 

 

Your Network, Net Work and Self-Worth

Your Network, Net Work and Self-Worth

Mark Petticord said, “The sum of your net worth will be the result of your network.” While I believe in having a diverse network, I also believe your network reflects your self-worth. I can pretty much tell how people feel about themselves by the people they surround themselves with. When I see people surrounded by a bunch of bobbleheads and people who don’t challenge them or their ideas, there is a strong possibility that person does not see how much they have to offer and has low self-worth. On the contrary, when I see someone who is surrounded by people who are smarter than they are and receive constructive feedback, I know that those people are dedicated to improving their self-worth which ultimately impacts their ability to grow their network.

Your relationships are a reflection of how you see yourself. If you are surrounded by people who constantly take from you but don’t replenish you…you are hanging around with the wrong people. Surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you and have your best interest at heart. Is there some truth that your network equals your net worth? Maybe. But I dare to say that when you know your self-worth making those connections in your network will be a lot easier.

With love,

 

 

 

 

Register today for the 4th annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference on October 6 & 7 in Laurel, MD: www.wyp2017.eventbrite.com

 

A Woman Without A Title

A Woman Without A Title

It’s National Women’s History Month and this year’s theme is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business”. The theme honors women who have successfully challenged the role of women in both business and the paid labor force. But just for a moment, let’s just forget about the titles that women hold. Let’s think about the fact that you are a woman first and forget about the fact you might be running a multi-million dollar corporation or you might be on your third startup or you just sold your most brilliant idea to a company that wants to pay you seven figures. Let’s forget about the fact that you just gave birth to twins or you just got married to your high-school sweetheart or you’ve decided to go back to school or you finally got that promotion that you’ve been working for. Let’s just forget about all of that. Take a minute to remember that before all of that you are a woman. Being a woman requires extraordinary strength and resilience because there are times when your womanhood will be questioned or others make a juvenile attempt to define it for you. Being a woman requires patience and I’m not talking about patience with others. We need to have patience with ourselves. We are prone to being Type A…we want things to be perfect…have everything in place…all our ducks in a row…dot the “i” and cross the “t”.  And because of the way we are wired, we have a tendency to be extraordinarily hard on ourselves when gentleness is required. Understand this, no one called you to be superwoman. I don’t know who started this foolishness. Let me say it again, no one called you to be a superwoman. No one said that you had to carry the golden lasso of truth or wear the golden, bullet reflecting cuffs. Take the damn cape off already. 

Your title at work doesn’t matter. It doesn’t if you’re running your own business. It doesn’t matter if you won ‘mom of the year’ and your kids are on the honor roll and your husband places you up on a pedestal. It doesn’t matter because of the end of the day when you close your eyes you are still a woman and everything about being a woman is amazing. 

With love,

 

 

 

 

Registration is open for the 4th annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference. Register today at www.wyp2017.eventbrite.com.

 

Need Clarity? Get Rid of the Clutter

Need Clarity? Get Rid of the Clutter

When you hear someone mention how much clutter they have, you might assume they are talking about physical stuff like magazines they don’t have time to read, clothes that no longer fit or wedding gifts that they will never use. The sentimental, “what if’s”, and things you have inherited can take up precious physical space and create unnecessary clutter in your home or office. But there is also emotional clutter such as pent up hurt, disappointment, anger, and resentment. Left unexpressed, these feelings repeatedly come to the surface and will not allow you to move forward.

How long are you going to hold on to that grudge that you should have let go of days, weeks, months or YEARS ago? How long are you going to replay that argument in your head? How long are you going to blame someone else for your unhappiness? How long are you going to blame yourself for something you had no control over? How long are you going to let your flaws define you instead of strengthening you? All of that emotional clutter is keeping you from seeing the big picture. It is clouding your judgment, causing self-doubt and keeping you from being your authentic self. That ‘clutter’ is keeping you from fully articulating and demonstrating your life’s work and purpose.

What clutter do you need to let go of?

With love,

Praising Others Doesn’t Make You Less Awesome

Praising Others Doesn’t Make You Less Awesome

For the men that might read this, I apologize in advance. This post wasn’t written for you. It doesn’t mean you should leave, it just means that I need to talk to the women today.

Okay, so let’s talk about it. Adele won the Grammy for Album of the Year and after everyone who had taken part in making the album was on the stage, Adele proceeded to tell everyone that she couldn’t possibly accept the award because it belonged to the artist of her life, Beyonce. Wait, what? Now let’s be clear. According to Billboard.com, Adele’s album has sold over 9 million copies, spent 10 consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard charts, had over 4 million downloads of the lead single, “Hello”, there were 1.7 BILLION views of her video on YouTube and grossed $159.3 million dollars from 102 shows during a year-long tour. You don’t have to be an Adele fan or even know who she is to appreciate those numbers. The point is, her album did well. Very well. So why did she feel like the most coveted award belonged to another artist? This is what happens when a woman is so confident in her talent that she had no problem sharing the spotlight with a woman who is equally talented. It didn’t take anything away from Adele to tell Beyonce how “monumental” her album was while she accepted the award.

And while there were many who tried to make this a racial conversation, I saw it as a model of what happens when a woman realizes that acknowledging the awesome, fantastic and stupendous in another woman does not make her any less amazing, talented and extraordinary. Backstage, Adele was asked why she spent so much time talking about Beyonce. Her answer was simple. She was a fan of Beyonce and “Lemonade” was her album of the year. I think the phrase “haters” (which I think is the stupidest phrase…ever) would finally disappear if women did this for each other ALL THE TIME. There is nothing more powerful than women supporting each other.

 

Are you supporting other women? When was the last time you…

  • gave another woman a genuine compliment?
  • publicly supported another woman at your company?
  • recommended another entrepreneur to a client because you knew she was a better fit for the job?
  • sent a word of encouragement?

There’s room for everyone to shine. Don’t believe me? Look at the stars.

With love,

 

 

 

 

Registration for the 4th annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference is open. Register today at www.wyp2017.eventbrite.com

 

 

Self-Care Should Not Be A Reward

Self-Care Should Not Be A Reward

 

Raise your hand if you are guilty of either of the following:

…putting the needs of others before your own needs

…saying “yes” when I really need to say “hell no”.

You don’t need a stronger backbone, you need to practice self-care. You would think that self-care would be intuitive. It is not. It something that we have to practice every single day. To help you get started or get better with self-care, here’s a link to 9 phenomenal TED talks on the importance of self-care (https://www.ted.com/playlists/299/the_importance_of_self_care). The talks range in length from 3 minutes to 20 minutes and are sure to either inspire you or give you swift, but loving kick in the butt. I’ve said it before and I will say it again…self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.

With love,

The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change

The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change

This past election season has shown that fear of the unknown can be fodder for hours of complaints and speculations around the coffee table or the water cooler. Let’s face it, change is scary as hell. What are the big changes you are facing in your life right now? Are you digging your heels in and refusing to budge or are you peeking around the corner at the possibility of what “might be”? Yes, change is scary. But do you know what is scarier? Looking back at your life a month, a year or ten years later and wanting to kick yourself for not making a change. Accepting and embracing change allows for self-reflection and evaluation to take place. You may learn that you are more resilient than you once thought. You may realize that you are stronger than you once gave yourself credit. Yes, change can absolutely suck. But what if the change leads to something miraculous and you realize that you could have robbed yourself of the opportunity to stretch just a little bit out of your comfort zone? What if change lands you in your dream job? What if change finally takes off those last 10 pounds? What if change adds a comma to the balance in your retirement and savings account.

As you encounter change, instead of running away, ask “what if?”

With love,

 

Reflection

Reflection

Every now and then it’s good to take some time to do some self-reflection. During my six-day visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, I remembered that I have continued to train certain people in my life to treat me the way they do. Family members, friends, and co-workers have all been taught by me that’s it is okay to infringe upon my “me time”. That it’s okay to say they will call and don’t. That it’s okay to come to my desk and stand there while I’m on the phone. I taught them how to do it by accepting the behavior and not lovingly or professionally correcting them the first time they displayed behavior. I didn’t tell them that wanting time for myself is not selfish, it’s necessary for my emotional well being. I didn’t tell them that I was disappointed when they didn’t keep their word. I didn’t tell them that I would appreciate it if they didn’t just walk up to my desk and start talking without first checking to see if I was busy.

Standing firm on what I will accept and allow will definitely raise eyebrows and ruffle several feathers and I am comfortable with the uncomfortable feeling that I might feel through this process. The process will be a little more difficult with the people I love. When you are not allowed to fully express your feelings because someone finds fault in them or tries to negate them with an explanation, you are essentially robbed of the satisfaction of trusting a person you love with your deepest fears. I’m hoping that those who claim to love me will listen to what I have to say with their heart and not their selfish ego. I admit I’m little afraid of how my personal relationships might change. However, what I know and believe in my heart is the relationships that have a strong foundation will survive and those that are superficial will wither under the weight of me standing in my truth. And I’m okay with that.

How are you teaching others to treat you?

With love,