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When Your Dreams Don’t Scare You

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I’ve heard this a dozen times, if not more, at various conferences I’ve attended throughout the years. And while I’m sure the speakers mean well and they say it because it’s catchy or to motivate attendees to stretch beyond their comfort zone, I often wonder if it does more harm than good. It makes the assumption that if you aren’t scared of your dream, then it’s not worth having. Not every dream will scare you. And if it doesn’t, whose to say that it’s not big enough? Let’s face it, not everyone has dreams of being a billionaire and a CEO. Some people dream of getting an advanced degree so that they can pursue their dream of serving the community as an elected official. Some people dream of saving money to take their love ones on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. For those people, their dream is big and it may not necessarily scare them. Does it mean it’s not big enough? Absolutely not.

Ignore the “dream shamers” and keep pursuing your dreams whether they scare you are not. Uncertainty about the unknown can cause anxiety but do not let your dreams scare you. Let them exhilarate you and propel you towards being extraordinary.

With love,

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You Will Never Be Perfect

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You will never be perfect.

There I said it. I’m talking to myself, too. My Type A personality trait wrote 10 different drafts of this post before my need to be transparent took over. Blame it on the fact that I’m a recovering people pleaser or that it has finally sunk in that this blog is read in 81 countries. Either way, the desire to provide something of quality and not fluff is important to me. However, the need for perfection thwarts progress.

You will never be perfect but you have to start somewhere and do something. Someone right now is sitting on ingenious idea that will make them tons of money and create a legacy for their family but they won’t release it because it isn’t perfect. Someone is re-reading their draft which can be the next great American novel for the twentieth time instead of sending to a publisher. There’s a project your supervisor or client is waiting for and you are at the verge of not meeting your deadline because you think the report needs “just one more thing”.

Vince Lombardi, one of the greatest football coaches of all time said, “Perfection is not attainable but when we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” In the midst of striving for perfection, you will push yourself outside of your comfort zone…which is a GOOD…no GREAT thing. Worse things could happen. But doing nothing because you are paralyzed by fear doesn’t make space for growth or improvement. Yes, I said the “f” word and I will talk about that more later. Oh what the heck, let’s talk about it right now. Did you know that paralysis of perfectionism is based in fear? What are you afraid of? Who are you afraid of disappointing? If you fail…SO WHAT. There are valuable lessons to learn that only present themselves when you fail.

Don’t allow the fear of failure keep you from getting stuff done and being extraordinary.

With love,

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P.S. Registration is open for the Work Your Package Women’s Conference 2016! Click here to register!

 

 

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No Matter Where You Go, There You Are


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Photo Credit: New York Times

 

I’m a huge Jay-Z fan and one of my favorite songs is “Public Service Announcement”. (Watch his performance at Carnegie Hall here). These lines right here speak volumes of truth:

“No matter where you go, you are what you are player
And you can try to change but that’s just the top layer
Man, you was who you was ‘fore you got here.”

Now let me tell you why this can be applied to absolutely everyone, whether you sell out arenas or work a 9 to 5. No matter where you go, there you are and you take ALL of you with you. What do I mean by that? No matter how much you try to run away from a situation, you take ALL of you with you to the next situation. Your insecurities, bad habits and idiosyncrasies…all of it. When you don’t face that reality, you may think that leaving a situation that isn’t “working” for you is the best thing to do. Until the next situation doesn’t “work” for you either. A situation can be a job, a relationship, business venture, friendship, organization, church, etc. If you keep leaving to find a new situation because you think it will be different from your current situation and the same old issues continue to show up…the common denominator is you.

Every company isn’t horrible. The excitement of a new job will fade quick because “They are just like the last company I worked for!” is likely to come out of your mouth within a month. Every romantic relationship cannot be “not worth the trouble”. Finding a new romantic interest is not going to erase your memories of the last failed relationship because you haven’t fallen in love with yourself first. You don’t lose friends because people are untrustworthy. You aren’t authentic and you are wearing a mask and people who you claim are your friends deserve more. Stop it with the excuses. Own up to who you are.

Am I being a little harsh? Yes. Judgmental? Probably. But I don’t work at a bakery and never have so I don’t sugar coat anything. I call it how I see it. And if you have been reading my blog long enough, you will know that I’m transparent enough to admit when I’m making excuses. I’m not telling you to change. I’m hoping that you will become self-aware so that you can eliminate the barriers that keep you from being extraordinary.

With love,

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Masks Are For Masquerade Balls

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I have a secret. I’m an avid people watcher. Not the creepy, stalker type of watcher but the observant, “I don’t miss much” type of people watcher. Do you know what I’ve noticed? The old saying “fake it until to you make it” has trapped a lot of us into wearing a mask 24 hours a day. Oh, you don’t know what I’m talking about? I’m talking about the mask that says, “Everything is great!”. The mask that says you have it all together. You know, the mask that tells everyone your family is perfect, your finances are stellar, your job is amazing and your company is thriving. But in reality…

…you wish you could run away from home

…you are one paycheck away from not being able to pay your mortgage

…you and your significant other are fighting like cats and dogs

…there isn’t a day you don’t mumble under your breath “I hate this job” at least five times

…the amazing idea you had to start your own business is starting to feel like the dumbest thing you’ve ever done 

Sounds familiar?

There are two huge disadvantages to wearing a mask. Remember when you wore a mask for Halloween when you were a kid? Remember how the holes that were cut out for your eyes never lined up properly and your vision was impaired? The same thing happens when you wear the “everything is perfect” mask. Your vision of others become blurry. So instead of seeing circumstances for what they really are, you try to make them into what they should be based on the mask you are wearing. Secondly, when you are wearing a mask it is impossible for people to have an authentic relationship with you.  Two people trying to have any type of relationship while either one of them is wearing a mask can be catastrophic. It is essential to meet people exactly where they are. When you don’t show up as who you really are, the other person may feel the need to pick up a mask they had no intention of wearing. They feel obligated to put one because you were wearing yours and the deception continues back and forth until…

Communication breaks down…

Trust is broken and lost…

Relationships are damaged…

Amazing opportunities are missed…

All because of the stupid masks we wear because we are afraid to show the world who we really are.

Take the mask off.  Someone needs to see your real emotions, pain, struggles and success. Your journey has the power to inspire someone move beyond accepting a mediocre life and propel them to being absolutely extraordinary. You never know who you might encourage to take off their mask when you show the courage to remove your mask first.

 

With love,

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Life Lessons I Learned From Cutting My Hair

Earlier this year I decided to do something different with my hair. Not just new style but something COMPLETELY different. Like cut it all off and wear my natural curly hair instead of wearing it relaxed, weaved and sometimes hidden under a wig. Up until the minute I picked up the scissors and cut off about 4 inches of my hair I had a multitude of excuses of why I procrastinated with my decision:

  • It’s too drastic of a change…
  • It will be too hard to manage…
  • What if I hate it…
  • What if my family and friends hate it…
  • I have no idea what I’m doing…

Take a minute and think about something that you know you need or want to change right now but you are giving yourself 3,000 excuses why you can’t. Excuse me sir or ma’am, you can make the change if it’s important to you. Here’s what I learned from cutting my hair:

  • Change is inevitable but growth from change is optional. Don’t get so caught up in the fear of change that you forget to take advantage of the possibility to grow.
  • Stop saying something too hard to do if you haven’t even tried it. Change is hard when we resist it or ignore it in hopes that it will go away. Change is going to come one way or the other. Stop resisting it.
  • You don’t know if you don’t like it if you don’t try it. That’s what my husband says when it comes to trying to new foods. Amazing how that same philosophy applies to life.
  • So what if your family and friends hate your decision? And for a point of clarity…if you have a solid board of directors, they are not going to discourage you…they will be CHEERING you on from the sidelines and ENCOURAGING you to succeed.
  • So what if you aren’t completely sure about what you are doing. Would you rather waste more time being stuck in the land of indecision or learning as you go along?

I played around with the thought of cutting my hair for months. I thought that it would look horrible. Come to find out, I get more compliments about my hair now that I ever did with relaxer hair, weaves or wigs. If you haven’t figured it out, it gave me a HUGE boost of confidence. The same holds true for writing my book. I procrastinated for months before I decided to write it. I had no idea the book would open the doors for me to host an annual conference, speak to audiences and encouraging them to use what they already have to be extraordinary and to serve as a life coach to people ready to face and embrace change. What if I ran away from the fear or second guessed myself? None of those opportunities would have been possible.

Stop procrastinating and do the one thing that you have always wanted to do. You will be amazed by what you learn about yourself.

P.S. My clients know that I’m completely transparent. I see no reason why I can’t be transparent with you. Here’s my natural hair journey in pictures from February 2015 to May 2015…

 

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I’m Freaking Out!

The 2nd Annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference is less than 80 days away and I have to tell you, my nerves are shot! I’m being 100% honest with you. The risk of putting your own money on the table to host a conference and then plan, pray, hope, pray some more, network, market and then pray again to get people to attend is nerve wracking. If you ever meet someone who hosts their own conference and they tell you it’s easy…turn around and walk away because they are lying. You are probably saying, “If it’s so nerve wracking, Ayanna, why are you doing it?” Well, I’m glad you asked. I’m hosting this conference and embracing all of the angst that goes along with planning a successful event because I truly believe that everyone has the capacity to be extraordinary when they are given the right tools. I’m not an expert on all of the different facets that make the “total package” but I have some pretty good connections who are experts and it’s that expertise I want to share with the attendees. I’m a serial conference attendee and I know what it’s like to feel like you are nothing more than a badge or registration number. I’ve decided to purposely keep the attendee/speaker ratio low because I want the attendees to have an opportunity to have meaningful interaction with each other and the speakers. That is what drives me, that is what inspires me to commit to hosting this conference year after year and soon…city after city.

Working Your Package™ is the act of making a conscious decision to acknowledge you are unique and only you can deliver the special gift you were created to share with others. Are you headed in the direction of fulfilling your purpose or do you need to make some changes so that you can live your life authentically? Register today at www.workyourpackage2015.eventbrite.com

With love,

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Whose Life Is It Anyway?

There are times when you are faced with a choice, there will be a possibility of getting stuck in the muck and mire the “what-if’s”. Throughout the decision making process it is common to second guess yourself. Looking for answers externally for a preliminary opinion can be helpful to get you started. However, at the end of the day, the decision should come from the internal nagging you have in the pit of your stomach..the little birdie. The nagging that won’t let you sleep. The nagging that answers you back when you think about choosing the decision that isn’t in your best interest. The decision that you know must choose but are scared to make is often because it will not be popular. But guess what? It is often the best decision for YOU. It’s those decisions that shape and mold you into the masterpiece you were created to be. It’s those decisions, the hard, gut wrenching, tearful decisions you will reflect on and realize that if it wasn’t for those decisions you would still be living the same mediocre life that everyone else said you should live. You were not created to live your life by the vote of a committee. You were created to bring forth the expression of your originality and that does not include living your life in a substandard way to appease the masses. Live your life for you.

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Practicing What You Preach

It’s very easy to give advice to others. It is not easy to follow the same advice when the same situation and possible solution applies to you. Giving advice, unsolicited or requested, is a privilege and you shouldn’t give it halfheartedly or without thought.

When I decided to write “Work Your Package – A Guide to Being the Total Package”, I was going through what most people would call a “rough time”. There were challenges at home and at work that would have frustrated a saint and I was elbow deep in the planning of my first conference. It was crazy of me to take on the additional responsibility of writing a book but then I thought about what I would have told someone else in the same situation. Why not do it? If not now, when? Obstacles show up in everyday life and have we have two choices…complain about them or overcome them. The driving force behind finishing my book was knowing that people were watching me and wondering “Does she really practice what she preach? Is she really “working” her package?” Do I do what I do for public approval? Heck no. But I am a woman of my word. When I posted on Facebook that the book would be released soon, I gave the power of accountability to more than 600 people. I knew that if it took too long to release the book, there would have been at least 50 people asking, “Hey, when is your book going to be released?” 

There is a level of authenticity you earn with others when your words are congruent to your actions. If you are telling people how to eat healthy, you shouldn’t be eating fast food everyday. If you are telling people how to be financially responsible, your personal finances should be in order. Whatever it is you are giving advice about, you should be doing your absolute best to live the advice that you give.

 

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Action is Necessary..Even When You Are Afraid

If you ever hear me say that planning my first conference was easy…stop me IMMEDIATELY and then check if I’m ill. Hosting and planning my very first women’s conference has been absolutely terrifying. Seriously, I’ve lost sleep over it. And if the conference wasn’t enough, I added in completing a corresponding book to have available for sale at the conference. There were moments when I thought I was losing my mind. My need to make sure everything goes as planned has pushed my OCD/Type A personality into hyper-drive. The nagging doubt in my head that no one would register and no one wants to hear what I have to say has been on repeat…and I pushed forward anyway. I’ve pushed myself further in the past couple of weeks than I have in the last few years.

You can have all the plans in the world in your head, but until you take some action, they are just ideas. Fear of the unknown is normal and you shouldn’t feel otherwise. Don’t be paralyzed by the fear, take action…even if it’s just one small step towards your goal. If you fail, make sure you learn something from the failure. If you succeed, don’t get comfortable in your success because there is always something new to learn.

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The Paralysis of Fear

Having an dream and wanting to introduce it to the world can be terrifying. The level of fear can elevate every time you see someone doing what you want to do. Everywhere you look, there’s someone who seems to be having amazing accomplishments with your “dream”. If you go on social media, you can’t help but be inundated with announcements of people doing what you want to do. All of a sudden, the plans you have spent tireless hours developing seem useless and you are ready to throw your hands up in defeat before you even start. Before you accept defeat without getting in the ring, ask yourself:

  1. Why did I start in the first place?
  2. Who do I want to impact?
  3. How am I different from everyone else?

Be honest with yourself as you take time answer the questions. Have you forgotten what got you so excited in the first place? Do you need reassurance that you are unique in every way? This would be a good time to call on a member from your personal board of directors. Sometimes you need someone to hold you accountable to your dreams and aspirations so that you don’t let them go because you are feeling discouraged. Don’t allow a momentary feeling defeat keep you from making a contribution of a lifetime.