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Category: Life Lessons

Circumstances Come and Go, Character is Permanent

Circumstances Come and Go, Character is Permanent

“It’s not my fault if he/she/they didn’t do…..then I would be in this situation now.”

The most frequently used excuse for not owning up to taking responsibility for your life.

It is an easy cop-out to say that you are a product of your environment. It’s easy to blame someone else for your current state of affairs. It’s even easier to blame someone else for your anger and anguish. You are not a product of your circumstances but of your decisions. You have a choice to be happy. You have a choice to see positivity instead of negativity. You have a choice to rewrite the narrative as the victim. Making decisions is hard because then you are the one who is ultimately responsible for its outcome. But imagine for a moment, where one decision can change your trajectory for the rest of the day or the next month and maybe into the next few years? Make a decision that supports your dreams. Make a decision that supports building your character. Your circumstances will always change, but your character should not.

With love,

Look Back To Move Forward

Look Back To Move Forward

When I was younger, I remember my mom and my grandmother talking about how the years just “flew by”. Now that I’m older and I understand that a year can literally fly by when you are busy doing the work that you are called to. Did you realize that we are down to the final 32 days of 2017? I don’t know about you but I feel like this year absolutely flew by. 

Over this past year, I know you have made some amazing accomplishments and reached goals that you once thought were unattainable. I also know that your accomplishments did not come with some disappointment or heartache. What if you looked at your failures positively? Think about it. If you didn’t fail, if you didn’t hear ‘no’, if you didn’t stumble, if you didn’t fall…how on Earth would you learn the lessons required to be extraordinary?

Many of you might be in the process of creating New Year’s resolutions or creating a vision board for 2018. In these final days of 2017, take an opportunity to look back over the year and list your biggest accomplishments and your biggest failures and list the lessons that you learn from them. You might be surprised. The revelation might change how you shape your goals for 2018.

With love,

Face The Music

Face The Music

“I love that you have wild ambition but don’t get in your own way.”

“You are a titan, but you are like a bird with no place to land.”

“You know I support you but do you have time for this?”

I won’t go into detail about what prompted the statements and question but I will share this: If you cannot fearlessly share your goals and challenges with the people on your personal board of directors, you are surrounded by the WRONG people. I declared that I was going to take a little bit of a break. That break lasted for about a week. My people will not let me off the hook that easy. My people have called me out on my nonsense. They held up the mirror and forced me to see my hardheaded ways. Don’t laugh. I’m willing to bet you have hardheaded ways too. Are you turning away from the mirror? Are you ignoring the calls and text messages? Are you telling yourself you just have to get “everything under control” and things will be better? The Perfectionist Trap is real.

Whenever you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to write down everything that is currently on your proverbial plate. Be honest with yourself and if you have a hard time doing that, ask a member from your board of directors to “remind” you of your commitments. Are you overcommitting yourself? Success is awesome but you won’t be able to enjoy it if you are a hot mess.

With love,

 

I Felt Naked, But Not Afraid

I Felt Naked, But Not Afraid

Have you ever allowed yourself to be so vulnerable that you felt naked? That’s what happened to me while I delivered the closing keynote at my fourth annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference. I spoke on the topic, “Your Life. Your. Story: What to Do When You Have a Story to Share”. It was the second time that I had spoken on the topic. The first time was for a webathon hosted by Lucy Brazier, the editor of Executive Secretary Magazine. However, this time was different. This time I wasn’t alone in a conference room with my laptop. This time I was in a room full of women that I am honored to serve and affectionately and proudly refer to as “Mavens”. These women have their own stories to share but there I was sharing mine. And I felt naked but not afraid. Sharing my story was cathartic and allowed me to be unapologetic about who I am. Being vulnerable is liberating because it erases any preconceived notions of perfection or lack of challenges. Being vulnerable is an act of acceptance of oneself. In the article, “Accept Yourself (Flaws and All): 7 Benefits of Being Vulnerable” by Daniel Wallen, here are the benefits of being vulnerable:

1. You will learn to appreciate the quirks that make you unique. Being vulnerable will help you embrace the strange (interesting) and quirky (unique) things that make you special. While you might call certain personal characteristics are “awkward,” they are only awkward if you don’t accept yourself, and consequentially feel uncomfortable in who you are. We are all crazy in our own ways; and if you’re going to be weird, you might as well be confident about it.
2. You will make peace with troubling memories from your past. Being vulnerable will help you get rid of pent-up baggage that bothers you. While it isn’t easy to deal with painful memories, it is better to confront your past than it is to hide from it. We all have made bad decisions we regret, so don’t even think about judging yourself; search for a lesson or takeaway that will help you prevent similar mistakes in the future and let it go.
3. You will attract the right kind of people into your life. Being vulnerable will help you understand what types of people you can most relate to. While you might be tempted to hang out with whoever crosses your path, it is better to choose your friends carefully. We all have made the mistake of telling something personal to somebody we shouldn’t have, and ended up getting hurt due to backstabbing or betrayal; it is good to love all people without question, it is best to only put total faith in true friends worthy of trust.
4. You will find it easier to empathize with the struggles of others. Being vulnerable will help you develop empathy for others. While it’s easy to throw a fit when something terrible happens to us, it is a lot harder to demonstrate compassion for the struggles of another person. We all have been guilty of getting so caught up in our own lives that we forget the world doesn’t revolve around our needs; before behaving like an upset infant, remember that many people face hardships that you couldn’t begin to imagine.
5. You will earn the trust of people at work. Being vulnerable will help you grow closer to the people in your workplace. While you might think you deserve a raise just because of your hard work, you need to remember that no amount of book smarts can make up for a complete lack of emotional intelligence. We all have complained about getting “passed up” for a promotion; before assuming you’re “under-appreciated,” take an honest look at your ability to communicate and work together with your fellow co-workers.
6. You will strengthen your bond with your romantic partner. Being vulnerable will help you bond with the person you love most. While you might be afraid to reveal your deepest and darkest secrets due to a fear of judgment, doing so will put your mind at ease. We all have put up barriers to protect ourselves from getting hurt; but if you hope to spend the rest of your life with a particular person, don’t you think it would be best to be forthcoming with the important truths that they would like to know?
7. You will humanize yourself in the eyes of others. Being vulnerable will help you demonstrate that you are an approachable person who is kind and considerate. While it isn’t easy to find the courage to reveal our true nature, there is no better way to encourage others to accept themselves. We all have fought with a lack of esteem at one time or another.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity.

Dr. Brené Brown – Daring Greatly

With love,

Eye Witness vs. Life Witness (Part 2)

Eye Witness vs. Life Witness (Part 2)

What I’ve come to notice over my four decades and some change here on this Earth is that people are hard-headed. The elders have a saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.” I’m going to take a risk and probably offend some people but know that I do it from a place of love. I’m not the type of person that can see someone going to the waters’ edge and know full well that they can’t swim and they don’t have a life jacket. So when I dispense advice on things that I am a “life witness” to not an “eyewitness” to, it’s discouraging and sometimes infuriating when you’re met with a know-it-all attitude. Yes, you can have in-depth conversations about the what-ifs but until you’ve actually experienced something for yourself, don’t dispute it with someone who has gone through what you’re going through. Don’t base your argument on a hypothetical situation that probably will not go as scripted or may never happen. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. As parents, we tell our kids not to touch the stove because it’s hot. What happens? They touch it anyway. Why? Because they don’t know what “hot” means. As an adult, if someone is trying to help you by imparting “life witness” experience…accept the help and heed their warning. Unfortunately, women can be the worst culprits (raising hand). We are a bunch of Type A, cape wearing individuals who believe that we are always right. News flash. We are not always right. While we might be very intuitive and in tune with our surroundings, there are some things that we just don’t know.

Since when has it become a sign of weakness to say that you don’t know? Since when has it been a disgrace to say ‘I am not sure’? Since when has it become profanity to say ‘I need help’? Today I want you to think about where you need help. I want you to think about the things you have been struggling with and are too embarrassed to ask for help. Listen, no one likes a know-it-all but most people love to help.

With love,

It’s Not Fair

It’s Not Fair

“It’s not fair!!!” That’s how the argument started when my youngest realized my oldest had more money than she did. Between good grades on her final report card and her birthday, she had a nice piece of change in her purse. My youngest deemed it unfair but couldn’t articulate why and was then rendered speechless when reminded that she too had received money for her good grades as well.

How many times have we looked at someone who is seemingly flawless in their success and make a snarky comment? I would never. Cut the crap. No matter how supportive you are of other women, you have made a least one less than flattering comment about someone who you felt received a larger piece of the “pie”. How did she get promoted? How is she getting so many clients? How she afford to travel so much? Honey, you are asking the wrong questions. The only question you should ask is Why does it bother me? We’ve been taught that in order for someone to win, someone else has to lose and that’s just not true. When you take a minute to think about it, the promotion, clients or airline miles cannot do anything to dull your shine. Zero. Nada. Nunca. Zilch.

Don’t allow yourself to get so caught up in what is “not fair” that you forget to be thankful for everything that you do have. A little pang of jealousy is normal but don’t let it consume you. Let it fuel your determination to continue on your journey to being extraordinary.

With love,

Emotional Mooching Vampires

Emotional Mooching Vampires

 

In a perfect world, we would all be surrounded by people who support and love us without any strings attached. Our co-workers would be kind, considerate and thoughtful and offer constructive criticism. Our families would be able to assess your emotional state before piling on their worries onto your shoulders and our friends would try to solve some their problems all by themselves. Unfortunately, that is not reality. So how do you recognize and deal with the emotional moochers in your life?

According to PsychologyToday.com, there are five types of emotional “vampires”:

1. The Narcissist – It’s all about them…all the time. They have an inflated sense of self-important and entitlement and crave attention. These people lack empathy and have zero to no capacity for unconditional love. It’s their way or no way.

 

2. The Victim – The ENTIRE world is against them and that’s why they are unhappy. Even the best ideas that offer solutions to their misery are met with, “Yeah, but…” Every conversation with them leaves you feeling drained.

 

3. The Controller – Somehow these people think you are theirs to control and manipulate. They have an opinion about everything and will try to discount your feelings if they don’t believe you have a valid reason to feel that way…even if they caused it.

 

4. The Constant Talker – You might have initiated the conversation but they will dominate it and won’t let you get a word in edgewise. They are not interested in anything you have to say or how you may feel.

 

5. The Drama Queen/King – These people have a flair for small incidents into off-the-chart dramas or as my granny would say, “Making a mountain out of a molehill.”

So how do you protect yourself from this emotional mooching vampires? Take a minute to think about how you feel after interacting with people. Do you feel energized or optimistic? Or do you feel drained and defeated? If it’s the latter, then maybe you need to limit the amount of time, if any, that you spend with those type of people. Dealing with that type of negativity on a daily basis can weaken your emotional snapback and agility.

Here are four strategies on how to deal with emotional mooching vampires from the book Emotional Freedom by Judith Oroloff, MD:

Strategy #1: Am I Being Sapped by an Emotional Vampire? There are some common emotional side effects such as feeling put down or your mood takes a nosedive.

Strategy #2: Practice These General Dos and Don’ts With Emotional Vampires  Whenever possible, eliminate drainers from your life. However, with those, you can’t or don’t want to remove like friends going through a rough patch or relatives — follow these tips:

  • Do: Take a breath to center yourself. Stay calm and matter of fact instead of going for their bait. Communicate clearly and firmly, with a neutral tone when setting limits.
  • Don’t: Panic. Talk yourself out your intuitions or call yourself “neurotic.” Blurt out what you’ll regret later or use an accusatory tone.

Strategy #3: Could I Be an Emotional Vampire? How Do I Know? (Own your stuff!) Everyone has a little bit of vampire in them, especially when stressed. Cut yourself a break. The solution is always to own up to where you’re emotionally stuck and change the related behavior.

Strategy #4: Identify and Combat Emotional Vampires  To be free of vampires, you must know the nature of the beast. Each one has a special talent for emotionally disabling you. The good news is that vampires are predictable. Once you get their number, you won’t be caught off guard.

Take some time to assess who is around you and create strategies on how to deal with them if they are emotional moochers. Your peace of mind and emotional well-being will thank you.

With love,

Your Scars Are Your Credentials

Your Scars Are Your Credentials

Exhausted. Irritated. Overwhelmed. That was me last week. Multiple responsibilities from home and work collided and I was left feeling defeated and depleted. I had nothing else to give to anyone or to myself. I didn’t feel like working any of my “packages” and felt guilty about it. I shared my feelings online and received permission to be still. Understand this, I didn’t need or ask for permission. What blew me away was that the people who told me it was okay for me to take a day or several days off were the people who I serve. The people who have attended Work Your Package conferences, have bought the book, read the weekly blog and double-tap my images on Instagram. It was confirmation that I could be vulnerable and transparent to the people I was created to serve without being viewed negatively. Additional confirmation came in the form of a sermon preached by Pastor Battle of Zion Church. The name of the sermon was “A Wounded Witness”. Here are some of the lessons I learned from that sermon:

1. Your wounds are a witness.
2. Some of the stuff you’ve been through, you can’t hide.
3. Being transparent is one thing, being touchable is another. (Reminds me of Dr. Brene Brown’s teaching on vulnerability)
4. Sometimes you have to reopen a wound in order to help someone else.
6. Stop giving a censored version of your wounds.
7. Wisdom, grace, life, compassion come out your wounds.
8. Don’t ask why you went through what you did. Ask why you survived it. It’s your credentials. You’ve been to hell and back so that you can help others.

It looks great on social media to appear like you have everything together but behind closed doors that facade is exhausting and eventually, the truth will seep out and your authenticity will be in question. It’s okay to say that you are tired and feeling overwhelmed. Sharing the challenges of life doesn’t diminish who you are as a person, tarnish your “brand” or your effectiveness as a leader. Wounds lead to scars and scars lead to lessons that will help others.

With love,

Write Your Story

Write Your Story

How many times have you talked yourself out of taking the path that would have led you to something extraordinary? I have a friend who has a story that needs to be told to the world. I don’t say this because they’re my friend. I say this because when they told me a small part of their story, a piece of my heart wept and then I was in awe at how they were still standing. Recently I asked my friend when they going to tell their story. They told me they were too young to tell their life story and they were going to wait another 20 years. Insert major eye roll right here. My friend doesn’t know if they going to live another 20 years. Do you know the best stories ever told and the best advice that fit your exact situation are six feet under at the cemetery? If you aren’t ready to tell your story, find a way to document it. 

You are too young to do that. Who would want to learn from you? You haven’t lived yet. You are too old. That is an old-fashioned way of thinking. Write a book? No one would buy it. Go back to school? It’s not like you’ll get a promotion when you finish…if you finish. Lose weight? Haven’t you tried to do that already? Vacation by yourself? Are you crazy? Buy a house? You’ll never get approved for a mortgage. Start a business? Do you know how many fail in the first year? You aren’t doing anything original…

These aren’t the lies that other people tell you. These are the lies that you tell yourself.

Lies hold you hostage. Denying the potential positive impact of sharing your imperfect life serves no one. Lies keep you stagnant. I believe you are more resilient than a lie. But it doesn’t matter if I believe it. Do you?

With love,

From Point A to Point B

From Point A to Point B

How can you get to where you want to go if you don’t know where you are right now? While coaching an amazing woman, I asked her, “Where do you see yourself a year from now?” The question stumped her. So I asked her a basic question based on her current circumstances. “What are you really good at?” Again…crickets. When using your GPS for driving instructions, it needs your current location in order to give you directions for your destination. Getting to know yourself is the starting point on the GPS. If you are unsure of where you are, here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. What are my strengths? What are you known for? What do people call on you to do frequently?
  2. What are my short-term and long-term goals? You don’t need a complicated plan. Take some time and mind map it.
  3. What am I ashamed of? If you haven’t read “Daring Greatly” by Dr. Brene Brown, I highly recommend it.
  4. What new activities am I willing to try?
  5. What am I worried about? What is keeping you up at night or keeping you from making a decision?
  6. What does my inner critic tell me? We are our worse critics. Listen to what it is saying. Is it really true or a lie that someone told you that you keep replaying as truth?
  7. What do I do to practice self-care? This is a big one. If you don’t take the time to take care of yourself. No one is going to give it to you
  8. What am I passionate about? 
  9. Am I an introvert or extrovert? Did you know you could be an outgoing introvert? Transparent and vulnerable moment….I’m an ambivert. It took me years to figure out why I get so mentally exhausted after being around a large group of people for an extended period of time. I love to serve others but I now know when I’ve met my threshold of being sociable.
  10. If I wasn’t afraid, I would______. Some are able to complete this statement immediately. Some may take a few minutes or even days to think about it. However long it takes, answer it and then ask yourself, “Why am I afraid?”

When you are unsure of where you are, the road ahead can seem daunting. When you know who you are, you can chart your own path.

With love,