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Month: April 2013

Epic Failure (Well at Least in My Mind)

Epic Failure (Well at Least in My Mind)

There are times when I feel like a complete and utter failure. This morning is a perfect example. I didn’t prepare lunches last night so while I was making breakfast and coffee for my husband, I was also making breakfast for my girls as well as their lunch. Usually I’m okay with multi-tasking in the morning but this morning there was a nagging voice that kept saying “You are so unorganized, no wonder your house doesn’t run smoothly”. This voice continued and added some other things that I don’t even want to repeat. The louder the voice became, the more irritated I got. I had my “boom” moment when I yelled at my oldest daughter for not getting in the car…RIGHT NOW.  Epic, huge, magnanimous fail for me. I don’t like yelling, especially at my kids. Especially when they had nothing to do with the way I am feeling at that moment. I was silent for the majority of the time as I drove them to school. I made sure to tell them that I loved them and I wanted them to do their best today. When they got out the car, I wanted to cry.

I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy. – Tony Robbins

I’m still learning to give myself some credit for the things I do right and to have patience with myself when things go haywire. One day I will look back on this morning and realize that I’m not a failure as a mother, wife or household manager. Why? Because there will be other days that surpass this one with greater significance.

 

No Such Thing as Time Management

No Such Thing as Time Management

I’ve gone to several seminars over the course of my professional career that centered around the general theme of time management. You know all of the tried and true cliched ways to “manage your time”…create a daily plan, give each task a time limit, use an organizer, learn to say “no” and block out distractions. I am inclined to think that whoever come up with these tips must be a hermit.

man·age·ment

[man-ij-muhnt]

noun
1. the act or manner of managing; handling, direction, or control.

You can’t control time, if you could I’m pretty sure there are some of you that would add a few more hours to the day. There is no way to manage time, you can only manage the choices that you make that effect how the 24 hours you are given each day is used effectively or miserably wasted.

I’ve carried a Franklin Covey planner for the past 15 years. I’m known for purchasing the next year’s calendar in August (or as soon as it becomes available) and I feel completely lost without it. However, it doesn’t help me manage my “time”. It helps me manage the unrealistic expectations I place upon myself that I can be all things to all people all the time.  If I want time for what I feel is important (such as writing this blog or my book) then I have to make choices that will allow me to make time to write.

“Creating a daily plan” doesn’t mean two hills of beans when you come home from work and everyone in your family, including the dog needs your attention.

“Give each task a time limit” is a joke when you are working on a project for your boss that needed to get done yesterday but you didn’t get it until five minutes ago.

“Learn to say, no”….okay, I have to agree with this one. As a matter of fact, it’s rule number one for me. Saying “no” doesn’t make you less of a person, parent, employee, organization member or friend. Saying “no” shows that regardless of what is on your calendar, you are making a choice to manage your life in a way that’s best for you at that moment.

You can’t control time but you can control your choices. In order to have more “time”, make better choices.

Willpower vs A Plan

Willpower vs A Plan

I’ve been telling myself for years that if I just had some willpower I would be able to lose weight and keep it off. I think willpower is an overrated myth. It doesn’t exist. You can have all the willpower in the world but if you don’t work towards the goal you have in mind, then it’s just a wish. Willpower is not going to help me lost weight. A clear plan and determination to put my needs before taking care of everyone else will. I don’t claim to be an expert on weight loss but I know what works for me because I’ve done it before. I also know that when I allow people to take up valuable real estate on my schedule and in my thoughts…Ayanna gets pushed further to the side. Willpower will not finish the book I’ve started or start the book I need to write. Scheduling time to write will. Setting incremental goals will.

When I decided to take the certification exam for Certified Administrative Professional with an Organizational Management specialty (CAP-OM) administered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), it wasn’t willpower that helped me pass the exam with flying colors. It was a plan to study a certain amount of chapters, for a defined length of time on particular days. I followed that plan for five months. The end result was receiving a professional certification that shows my employer and my peers that I’m serious about my profession.

Willpower without a plan, in my opinion, leads to disappointment. A plan supported by willpower equals success. Same ingredients added in a different order yields different results.

Miscommunication

Miscommunication

Problem: The left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing and the right hand is pissed that the left didn’t just “know” what was going on.

I’ve been told that I talk too much. That’s probably why I started a blog, so I can say all the things that are still on my mind at the end of the day. Did you know that the average woman speaks up to 25,000 words per day? Me neither. But here’s the thing, if we are using so many words, why do we communicate so poorly?  We make assumptions that other people just “know” what we are saying without clearly defining what our needs are. We aren’t clear about what the goal is, the tasks involved or what the desire outcome is. I’ll be honest with you. I’ve been told (on more than one occasion) that I can come across abrasive by both men and women. I do not wear this as a badge of honor. I don’t offer an excuse. I do offer an explanation. A clear and concise message does not allow for a gray area aka confusion. Just for the record, I do apologize when I offend and then I ask “But did you understand what I was trying to say?” As the sender, it is your job to make sure the listener understands what you are trying to convey. As the listener, it is your job to speak up and tell the sender if you aren’t getting it. This common courtesy magnifies tenfold when working in a large group. A lack of communication can be to the detriment of the collective goal which can lead to mistrust and confusion so use your 25,000 words wisely.

Stepping Forward When the Path Isn’t Clear

Stepping Forward When the Path Isn’t Clear

There have been a few times in my life when I’ve stepped forward and had absolutely no idea where my decision would lead. Choosing an undergraduate major of Deviant Behavior and Social Control (I know…a degree in WHAT?) was supposed to lead me down the career path of law enforcement, specifically towards the career of a correction officer. Well if you read the About Me page, you know that didn’t happen. Instead that degree led me to a career that best fits me and my personality (for now). Being an administrative professional is difficult because people always ask, “Well what are you going to do next?” Let me ask you this, do people ask doctors or attorneys that question? So why would anyone think that being an administrative professional is an accidental career option? Sorry, that’s just my personal rant, on to my point of stepping forward when the path isn’t clear.

Taking the first step when a plan has not been clearly defined is scary and downright terrifying. But it can also be exhilarating. I said yes to participate in the inaugural issue of the Fearless With A Purpose magazine for two reasons, to support a good friend and to push myself out of my comfort zone (thank you Executive Board). I had no idea where the path would take me but it has been interesting to say the least. I have more confidence to speak my truth. I found the confidence to start this blog. I found the courage to tell other people that I want to share my message of Work Your Package through speaking engagements. Saying yes to one thing has produced multiple lessons and blessings.

By no means am I saying that you should just go blindly through life without any direction or thought. But when faced with a decision of which neither choice can hurt you or anyone you love physically, emotionally or financially, don’t always go with the obvious choice. Your path won’t always be clear but taking a small step forward in unknown territory is a heck of a lot better than just standing still.

Executive Board

Executive Board

 

Whether you call it an inner circle or advisory board…everyone should have one. Decisions are hard to make and sometimes mistakes can be too embarrassing to learn a lesson from. But when you are honest in your pursuit of being a better version of yourself, having a group of people who have your best interest at heart is invaluable. They are the people who push you a little further beyond your comfort level. They challenge your thought process. They make you see things from a different perspective. They hold you accountable for the plans you make and they encourage you when your plans don’t work out as planned. A good advisory board consists of both male and female members and will not have the bobble head syndrome (saying yes to everything you say) nor will they belittle you in any way. You know have the perfect mix when each person plays a specific role that highlights the strengths of their individual personalities.

For example, my husband is a naysayer. It’s not a bad thing but his immediate response to most things is “No, the reason why that won’t work is….” In the beginning it drove me nuts. Couldn’t stand it. Hated it. Now, 15 years later I’m glad he’s a naysayer. Why? Because if I can still stand by my idea or thought process after he’s finished, then I’m married to that idea and I’m not going to abandon it no matter what anyone else says.   He forces me to look at every aspect my idea and find the possible pitfalls. In my opinion, it is extremely helpful.

Another example is one of my sisterfriends who must have been separated from me at birth. She is my cheerleader, my supporter, my shoulder and my ear. There isn’t a silly idea or thought that I haven’t bounced off of her. Here’s the interesting thing, she does not automatically say, “That’s a good idea!” rather she asks, “What do you think you should do? How long do you think it will take? Is going to cost you a lot of money?” Her questions push me to go beyond the initial thought of “Oh that looks like fun!”

So here’s the round up of my Executive Board…Naysayer, Cheerleader, Reality Check, Humorist, Protector, Professional/Workplace Coach, Prayer Warrior, Strategic Planner and Image Consultant. Some members play two roles. Some positions have two or three people who rotate through and take turns. No matter what the composition of the board at any given time, I always feel that there is someone I can go to. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.

I Know Who I Am

I Know Who I Am

“Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am – and what I need – is something I have to find out myself.”
― Chinua Achebe

There seems to be a slew of professional, career and life coaches out there more than willing to “help” you find your passion, define your goals and create a career that you love. Coaches are great but if you don’t know who you are for yourself, you are wasting everyone’s time and specifically your money. Think of it this way, professional basketball players don’t need their coach to teach them how to play. The coaches are there to help them be better versions of yourself.

In my early twenties I started taking self-assessment tests. Myers Briggs and DiSC are my favorites and truly speak to who I am:

Myer Briggs profile: ENFJ [Extraverted (E), Intuitive (N), Feeling (F), Judging (J)] – Sincerely interested in other people and try to do their best to help them, tend to have extraordinary social and networking skills, are usually quite sensitive and even somewhat idealistic, the same sensitivity draws them towards careers that reward high emotional intelligence; on the other hand, they are very vulnerable to criticism and should stay away from stressful careers.  Also really creative, organized and honest – this makes them excellent psychologists, event coordinators or politicians.  (I share this with President Barack Obama, President Abraham Lincoln, Oprah Winfrey and Ben Affleck)

DiSC profile: Influence (I) and Steadiness (S) – Influence others through talking and activity and tend to be emotional, convincing, magnetic, political, enthusiastic, persuasive, warm, demonstrative, trusting, and optimistic. Want a steady pace, security, do not like sudden change, calm, relaxed, patient, possessive, predictable, deliberate, stable, consistent, and tend to be unemotional and poker faced.

Because I took these tests very early on in my adulthood, I had a better understanding of what I would and would not tolerate, deal with or allow in my personal or professional life. Either you love me because I’m always pushing you to be better or you hate me because I’m eternally optimistic that things will be better. Either way, the person you meet on a Sunday in August is the same person who will give you a hug on a Thursday in October. I’m consistent because I know who I am. I know my weaknesses. I know my strengths. No professional, career or life coach can teach me how to be me. What I want to know is how I can be an even better representation of myself as I Work My Package (TM). 

Do you know who you are and why you tick the way you do? Click here to take a modified version of the Myers Briggs. Click here for DiSC.

Take The Cape Off

Take The Cape Off

Why do women have a need to be needed? Why do we continually sacrifice our health and sometimes happiness just to ensure that the ones we love are well taken care of? Let me offer this little tidbit of advice: TAKE THE CAPE OFF.  No one should expect you to do it all so why act as if you have to?

One of the most wonderful things about our body is its ability to tell us when it has had enough and we need to slow up, push back and say no to yet another request. However, instead of listening to it, we continue to push forward to do “just one more thing” before we collapse in the bed at night. I have a newsflash for you honey, if you don’t slow up, if you don’t take some time for yourself, if you don’t say no to making 3 dozen cupcakes for your kid’s classroom…your body will find a way to shut down.

I want you to take a minute and think about the last time you were really sick. Not just the sniffles, I’m talking about being laid out with enough medicine on your nightstand to open up a drug store. Was it after you worked 60 hour weeks for 4 weeks straight?  Was it after you planned and managed the entire family reunion by yourself…again? Or was it after your ignored every single warning sign your body gave you to sit your happy hips down somewhere? I’m willing to bet money and a favorite pair of shoes that it was after you stretched yourself so thin you were transparent. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience. I know what it’s like to have “just one more thing” to do while my body is screaming at me “PLEASE JUST GO TO BED ALREADY!!!” I ignored every single sign until they wheeled me out of my office on a stretcher to take me to the emergency room.

So I offer this piece of advice with love to mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, girlfriends, employees, entrepreneurs and successful business owners – take time for you. Your husband and kids can function for an hour or two while you to go to Starbucks and get a cup of coffee and read a magazine. Your office building will not stop running if you aren’t there. Your parking spot is not the weight bearing column for the building and it will not collapse. You have poured your heart and soul into your business and the foundation that you have laid will not be washed away if you decide to take a few hours to get a mani/pedi and a massage. I’m not telling you to neglect your responsibilities. I’m asking you to realize that you weren’t created in the pages of comic books.