Do you remember the first time you touched something hot and it burned your hand? You were more cautious the next time you approached the stove. Do you remember the first time you disobeyed your parents and got grounded? You paid attention the time and got home before curfew. What about the first disappointment or heartache? You remained guarded a little bit longer before you allowed yourself to be vulnerable.
Wisdom seldom comes from pleasant experiences. It often comes from a source of pain or hardship. The tactic to survive what you once thought was so debilitating is to apply that wisdom to future circumstances so that you can make better decisions and share that wisdom with others. Your “little birdie” is strengthened with each experience and has an amazing memory. Are you trusting it and applying your wisdom to help you navigate the inevitable pitfuls you will face during your journey?
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
One of my favorite quotes by Aristotle is, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” I found this quote years ago and made it part of my email signature so that I could see it on a regular basis. It resonates with me because I have a bad habit of wanting things to be perfect.
The Perfectionism Trap is an ugly thing and can be a downward spiral. It can cause you to procrastinate and remain stuck in one place. But here’s the rub, you can’t be successful if you don’t try and you don’t try if you are worried about being be perfect. It also fosters negative self-talk and unnecessary self-doubt.The quest for perfection diminishes the opportunity to have joy in the acting of “doing”. Don’t let the trap of perfectionism keep you from an opportunity to do something in a different way. It’s that difference that will lead to growth and new ideas which then fosters your creativity and pushes you forward to trying something new beyond your comfort zone.
“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.
“So how are things going?”
“Oh my goodness. I’m just swamped. I’ve been so busy!”
“Really? What have you been doing?”
There is a difference between being busy and being productive. When you are “busy”, wheels are spinning and you get absolutely nowhere. When you are being productive, you can see your progress. Some people don’t know the difference so when they ask someone how things are going, they are impressed by the list of things that are rattled off. Here’s the difference between busy and productive people:
- Busy people fake having a personal mission. Productive people live their mission every single day.
- Busy people have several “priorities”. Productive people have a selective few.
- Busy people say “yes” at the drop of a hat. Productive people have no problem saying “no”.
- Busy people tell what they are doing. Productive people show you.
- Busy people multitask. Productive people focus.
We have all been guilty of glorifying the “busy”. However, in order for you to be extraordinary and live a life that will inspire others, it’s time to start being productive.
Registration is open for the 4th annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference on October 7, 2017. Limited seating is available, register today at www.wyp2017.eventbrite.com.
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.
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?