Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #30-Accepting the World As Your Playground

I’m sooooo excited right now.  In just a few hours, my friend and I leave for Italy for a week in Rome!  Though planned a couple months ago, our motivator was nothing more than, “Why not?!?”  I have a rule about doing “repeat trips”.  Basically, since there’s so much to see, I never do the same place twice.  Of course, I have broken this rule for Italy after falling in love with it last year.  And so it is, we’ll be ringing in 2014 at a festival near the Colosseum!  Did I mention how excited I am!!!!!

I usually treat myself to one big trip a year….a way to totally disconnect from work, life in general, and to just really have some “me time” and reflect!  It really rejuvenates me, whether it’s running off to Europe or basking in the glow of the Caribbean, the reflection time does a Farah good! Unfortunately, I didn’t make plans for 2013 and just kind of accepted that I’d have to just be better in 2014 and plan ahead.  Then….Scene…In walks, Noelia…

IMG_2932”Soooo, I found this deal…what do you think of New Year’s in Italy?”

And here we are!  Why not!

There really is so much of the world to see, to experience, and new memories to create with those we hold dear.  What I’ve learned is while spontaneity definitely has it’s place, there really is value to planning ahead for your traveling adventures.  If you ever watch kids in their playgrounds, they sometimes just bounce back and forth between swing sets, the slides, and the monkey bars.  But when they’re creating worlds and experiences as only they can with their imaginations, they’re always planning with a story and some even tell the other kids what part they’re to play (I know that wasn’t just me!).

So, this week, I challenge you to dare to dream.  Accept the world as your playground and plan ahead.  Where are you going this year!?!?!  Tell me, tell me, tell me!

Soundtrack of the week: Vice’s World Is Our Playground

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Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #29-Being Financially Fit

There is sooooooo much that I’ve been wanting to share with all of you just over these past couple weeks and I’m literally holding myself back from making this a double- or even a triple-header!  Can’t give it all away at once, but don’t you worry, I’ve got some really good stuff in store!

Interestingly enough, I’ve opted for what I think might be more of a subtle factor to share with you this week-being financially fit.  See, here’s the thing about being responsible with our finances:  We all know it’s a should, even a must!  There really isn’t a question about this.  In fact, I would almost bet that 100% of us want this.  I actually can’t imagine anyone not wanting to have their “house in order” as it relates to their finances.  Just a couple days ago, I had a chance to catch up with a fabulous new friend, Jan (check out her recently launched venture, Daily General Counsel), and she always imparts some serious wisdom when we get a chance to connect.  As we took in the deliciousness we had from Flour Bakery, she shared many things and one thing has really, really stuck with me since:

“I’m going to say to you exactly what I say to my daughter all the time, ‘At no point in your life should you ever, ever, ever feel stuck!  That’s just a no-no.  Everything is yours to create, so you’ve just got to do it.’”

We were talking about so much regarding the entrepreneurial realm and of course personal finances are part of this as you have to plan how you’re going to fund your aspirations.

Being financially fit really means a whole lot, and for many people, it means different things.  See for some, it means being able to not have to rely on credit cards.  For others, it means not having to live paycheck to paycheck.  And still others, it means being a lender, not a borrower; being the head and not the tail, being able to tithe.  One of my friends recently found herself in a really tough spot having lost her job, used up all her savings to get by over the past year, and is so frustrated, yet all she could focus on was “Farah, I have not been able to pay my tithes!  I don’t play with my tithes and I have not been able to tithe!”  Now, let’s just be honest.  Some of us, I would dare to submit, many of us, would harp on not being able to shop, not being able to go out to dinner, and I’ll even admit, not being able to do my spa days (I said I was being honestJ).  And tithing was my friend’s priority.  She was “stuck”.

So now, when I think of Jan’s advice and what it really means to be financially fit, some basic practices and principles apply:

1-Budget:  To me this is the easiest part.  As an excel junkie, I just feel like you put in the formulas and items into a spreadsheet and there you have it, a budget!  Yet, I can’t tell you how many of my friends, even just over the last couple months have admitted to not having a budget. You know I nipped that in the bud!  Here’s the easiest thing to do TODAY: Open a spreadsheet, input Income, Expenses, Residual amounts.  Slate this information up for at least one month.  Then, when it’s time for you to update it next month, go ahead and budget for two months until you get yourself up to at least a quarterly budget.  TIP: Include your disposable income/”Play” money and savings in your expenses rows.  Then, it just becomes behavior for you to account for this

2-Set Goals:  Again, pretty simple here but this is why we sometimes get tripped up.  For instance, I’ve wanted, and kind of needed, a new car for a while now, but again, being honest, I haven’t really set a savings plan for it and I don’t play with debt so I’m not just going to go out and get a new car (accepting donations of anything big and shiny though…with leather interior). So, I finally sat down a couple weeks ago and set a weekly “Car Fund” savings contribution plan. CapitalOne360 even let’s you  have your account send you regular updates on your progress as you get closer to your goals.  So whether it’s a new pair of jeans, a new car, a new place, set your goals.  It actually makes it a bit more fun too.

3-Commit to your goals:  This really requires nothing more than committing to your goals.  By simply committing to my own goals, I’ve turned down some serious deals at Banana Republic (up 70% off items today) Burberry (there is a pair of sunglasses I really want and the outlets had them on sale yesterday), and Amrita Singh (my FAVORITE jewelry designer).  See, here’s the different between having goals and committing to them:  Having the goal of getting a car, I could maintain that goal and still purchase this teal jacket, care of Banana Republic, because it’s on sale today (size 8, again, if you’re in a giving mood)

banana-republic-teal-teal-hacking-jacket-teal-product-1-12830340-637441619_large_flex

and reason that I will just make it up next go around when I add to my savings.  Committing to my goal though, I did pause and remind myself, I’ve got bigger and better things I am committing to right now and this jacket will not make my current car last any longer and won’t be as cute if I’m wearing it with a broken down car on the side of the road! HAH!

4-Ask for Accountability:  We all need our friends and though this post does not reflect it, I really do have a hard time asking for things…especially for help.  The bigger your goals, dreams and aspirations though, the more you need those around you who are going to hold you accountable.  So, just earlier this week I had to admit to a little financial boo boo to a friend who I knew would give me the business and set me straight and then love up on me with some good advice…and expectations!  Now, and she knows this, I can’t stand to hear her voice with the “I told you so” and “Don’t play” and “What are you doing” tone.  BUT, I do appreciate that she will never let me deviate from my goals because according to her, “You know American Express does not play, get it together! No cash, no purchase.” Ugh! Reminding myself: I am grateful for my friends…I am grateful for my friends…I am grateful for my friends…no matter how loud and annoying they may sometimes be!

5-Share: Best practices are truly more powerful as they are shared.  After giving me this mini-lecture, my friend sent me one of her commitments for this year and it really is pretty simple:

52-Week-Money-Challenge

Check out Frecklberry for details but it’s more around the practice of saving than anything else.

Now the above is not an end all and be all to being financially fit, but it’s a pretty fabulous start…says the author of the list herself…no bias, right?  At the end of the day, this leads to more personal power.  Not engaging in long-term relationships with credit cards and balancing your spending with your savings positions, you to create more, to do more, and to help others to the same.  So let’s all heed Jan’s advice and commit to never, never, never feeling stuck and instead, being financially fit!

Soundtrack of the week:  My conversation with Jan reminded me that we all need to walk in authority and when we realize we actually can, it happens to be the beginning of the best days of our lives.

Donnie McClurkin: Walking in Authority

American Authors: Best Day of My Life

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #28-Being Kind

“Be kind to everyone.  For we are all fighting a great battle.  We really only get to see two percent of each other.  Our true full selves (and what we are going through) are so beneath the surface.”  -Tom Peter

This week’s factor to living fabulously fierce sounds so simple and yet, in our day-to-day, we sometime actually have to search for acts of kindness to witness. From simple things of holding the door for someone to buying a cup of coffee for someone behind you at Starbucks to the huge acts of kindness we hear about that make the news, I feel like if we all took just a little of bit of time to just be kind to even just one person, we’d be amazed at the ripple effect and our impact.

When I heard Tom Peters speak the words above at a Bentley Leadership Conference a few years back, what really hit me the most was that we are all fighting a great battle. Now it’s all relative right?  What I’m going through may not seem great to someone else but it’s my battle and it’s pretty heavy to me.  Friends come to me all the time with things that they’re worried about and stressed about and they know me, so they know that my first reaction might be, “really, that’s what you’re worried about?” And we actually laugh because I just always try to put things into perspective but here’s the reality, the thing they’re worried about is great for them and while sometimes being annoyingly optimistic or positive, my real job as their friend is simply to be kind.

So of course we need to boil this down to figure out what it really means.  I think there are three “big” buckets of kindness that we can consider:

  1. The kindness act of just being there:  Sometimes those closest to us really want nothing more than for us to just be there.  Our very presence is just enough kindness to help them get trough whatever is challenging them.  Just last year, a coworker came into my office and just sat down while I was really deep into a project.  I looked up and she just looked at me.  I said, “um, are you ok?” She said “oh yeah, don’t mind me, (really, I thought) I just got a call from home and I can’t deal so I just needed to get out of my office to a peaceful place with a peaceful person and yours is the only office I know of and you’re the nicest person I know here, so seriously pretend I’m not even here.”  Now you know good and well I couldn’t pretend she wasn’t there…so we ended up chatting for a good thirty minutes.  I still have no idea what the issue she was dealing with was…I didn’t need to.  I gave her what she needed…I felt like she walked out a little lighter on her feet than she was when she came in.  That was just the kindness she needed.  Cost me nothing but a little bit of time.
  2. The kindness act of making an offering:  During this time of the year, the holiday season, we are put on notice of all the charities we can give to for the holidays, the families we can adopt and the like.  This is all fabulous…Cradles to Crayons and Toys for Tots happen to be personal favorites for me.  The thing to keep in mind is that while we focus on these types of offerings once a year, we can make offerings all year round.  As I was thinking about what I was going to post this week, I had to also reflect on whether or not I’m really practicing what I’m preaching.  I try to do so, but I can always be better.  So I happened to be at Starbucks (yes, I’m officially an addict) and when I put my order in, I turned to the woman behind me and said “and what might you let me treat you to today?”  She looked at me STUNNED and said “are you sure?”  I told her, “More than you know, I don’t get fancy here so I just have a simple coffee but it’s breakfast time, what are you craving?”  She just beamed from ear to ear and said thank you.  Then….ready…wait for it…she looked at the card in her hand and said, I have this gift card with a bit on it, something tells me you won’t take it, so…”  She then turned around and gave it to a younger women, she looked to be college-aged, behind her.  RIPPPLE WHAT?!?!?!  It’s December….but, that’s not the criteria for doing something like this.  I plan to stun someone more regularly…..we’ll see what happens in January!
  3. The kindness act of sharing your own story:  I’ve learned that sometimes, folks look at me and think that I’ve got everything together…which is sooooooooooo hilarious to me.  Just last year, my sister was really going through some tough stuff and we talked about it.  As I tried to talk her….ok, I admit, I was coaching her…through it, she looked at me and said, “Yeah, but Farah you have it all together.”  All I could say to her, was “who in the world told you that.”  I realized she needed me to open my book a little more for her to understand that we all go through stuff and it really doesn’t matter.  What’s most important is that we actually go through….don’t just stall and sit in what you’re going through….just keep going….and that’s how you keep it all together.  Sometimes, the act of just letting someone know that they’re not alone in their life experience or the only one going through something is just the level of kindness they need to get back in the game

So, as you think about all of this, I really encourage you think about something you can do this week to exhibit some kindness to some unsuspecting vessel.  Add to the ripple! I promise, it doesn’t take much and what you get in return is a sense of being pretty fierce…because we are!

Soundtrack of the week: Being Kind.  Looks like someone had a fabulous idea to get the kindness ripple going a while back.  Game for kicking it back up with me?  Let me know what your act of kindness this week will be.

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #27-Being Gracious

imagesThis was an interesting week in the way of feedback!  First, it was my first full week back home since the very beginning of the month.  I have to tell you, I really do love to travel and enjoy the great company of my friends who are not so close in my day-to-day.  It just does something to connect with friends you’ve known for years and remember why you instantly clicked…either because you’re so similar that you couldn’t not connect or so different that the intrigue into each other has led to so much learning and teaching in that relationship.  Specifically, I’m thinking of my friends Dawn and Solomon from BC and Payal who Dawn introduced me to, after always saying “I really want you to meet each other because the two of you remind me of each other so much.”  So you can only imagine how cool she is! 578545_10152015770251265_1714508919_n

We had a fab time at Motown together.  #BarryGordyFanForLife!

Now being home, I got to connect with coworkers and friends that I hadn’t seen in a few weeks.  I don’t know what it was but I think my being away for a while really opened people up to sharing how much they missed me (aw, lovin’ the love) and being completely blunt with me…about me.  For instance, just this past Friday, my coworker who has really become a great friend, Allyson, said to me “Ok, you look absolutely fabulous today, love the outfit, your hair is super cute, but I really need you to do something with your nails…they’re not bad, but it’s distracting because it’s just so not you.”  I just had to laugh.  So for the background, I did one of those gel manicures, which for some reason, I thought was supposed to last for a month.  Yeah, no, they start to get really messed up after two weeks and I just didn’t yet have time to go get them taken care of.  Allyson was not having it though.   No worries, they’re all good now.

What was most surprising though is what came up multiple times this week as I was catching up with folks.  I’ll spare you the details of each interaction but thinking back and counting, seven different people said to me “You’re just so gracious.”  Every time someone said it, honestly I just heard it but by the fourth time, I realized that I really don’t even know what this means.  No, honestly.  I mean I know it has to be a good thing but when I think about what people mean when they say different things, this was something I didn’t really get, at least not fully.  So, of course, you know me by now…had to look up the definition of gracious:

gra·cious: courteous, kind, and pleasant. “smiling and gracious in defeat”

synonyms: courteous, polite, civil, chivalrous, well-mannered, mannerly, decorous.

Ok, so yea, I can get with that.  And when I think of the context of some of our conversations, I had a better understanding of their commentary.  For instance, I don’t know what’s going on lately but simply put, over the past few weeks, a few, shall I say “haters” have showed up and even some folks I thought were well-intentioned have shown me their contrary nature…or haven’t shown me but I’ve gotten the heads up from others about their true character.  When this stuff happens, because such is life and it is what it is, I actually laugh and I always just continue being who I am.

You need my advice and help? Sure.

Need a helping hand on your project?  Of course.

Need a listening ear?  Here’s mine.

When one of my friends and I were discussing one situation that came up and my reaction of just listening, her response was “You are a better person than I am.  You are so gracious because I would’ve given her a taste of her medicine.”

What does this mean for the fabulously fierce?  No, it doesn’t mean being weak or not standing up for yourself. It means you understand the reality of sowing and reaping.  That truly, no weapon formed against you, not matter how massive or minor can prevail over you.  There may be an impact, I’m not naïve, but it won’t prevail….you will.  So, all it means is that because you know who you are, you stick to who you are.  See, I don’t determine what I will do or not do based on who or what someone else is or does.  I am who I am regardless and maintain a consistent brand, one of graciousness, because no person, situation or circumstance will make me any different.  Ultimately, being gracious is just being fervent in who your are on the positive front in spite of whatever comes your way.  You have already been through the process of self-discovery…you know who you are.  My brother owns his own photography company and the tagline is Be You.  The definition of being gracious doesn’t get much clearer than that.  It’s not easy but the benefit is captured perfectly in this image:

gracious

See, whether things are amazingly positive or unbelievable challenging, don’t let it change you, don’t let things or people bring you down to their level, don’t let huge wins or successes blow your head up.  Be consistent, be stronger, be truer, be freer, be more fiercely alive, be you, be gracious!

Soundtrack of the day: Wings….watch/listen to the words…..

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #26: Being Destiny-Focused

Your biography is the farthest thing from your destiny.  Biography does not determine destiny, your decisions do.” Tony Robbins

As I’m preparing to start the process of obtaining some additional coaching credentials, I’ve started to look at the already established coaching and motivational experts in the field.  One of the most credible is Tony Robbins, someone who I’ve followed for quite some time now but now I’m really starting to study his approach and work.

In watching one of his interviews a while back, I remember him making the statement above and of course I had to look into his story.  Ultimately, his statement above proves that in spite of any circumstances or situations you may be born into, find yourself in or experiencing as a result of “biography”, the sheer existence of these situations has nothing to do with your destiny, in terms of any negative, or positive impact for that matter, at least not in their existence alone. What matters is what decisions you make in the face of your biography.

So, a while back, I actually starting piecing together a little bit of my biography, more in an effort to take a different approach to the next level of self-discovery for me and what I started to find was that in of being the daughter of a woman who grew up with very little, who was the daughter of a woman who worked for her bread literally every day before the sun came up and long after the sun went down, who was the daughter of a woman who, simply put, was just poor, my biography would tell you that all of us women really didn’t have a future, nothing significant to look forward to, really very few things to live for.  But because all of the women before me were destiny-focused, they made decisions that determined a more positive destiny for each and every one of them.  You can literally see the progression of quality of life, existence, success, prosperity, good health, etc through the generations of these women and then there’s me, positioned to look back, take their inspiration, and determine how to move forward toward my own destiny.  And it all boils down to what decisions I have made, make day in and day out, and what decisions I will make over the remaining course of my life.

What does this all mean? Well, I actually think it’s really simple:

No matter who you are, who you came from, what circumstances under which you were brought into this world, if you can embrace, visualize, and begin to work toward experiencing the destiny that is yours, you will live a life in which you make decisions based on what will advance you toward your destiny and limit the decisions that may take away from progressing toward your destiny. 

See, I think we’re the ones that really make things difficult…were human.  We like to blame people, circumstances and situations for why we are in the positions in life that we find ourselves.  That perspective does not exhibit that of one who is focused on their destiny.  This is really “soft”, I know so it may still be a little tough to grasp.  So here are a few examples

  • Ray Charles-blind, yet surpassed many expectations around his success based on decisions he made that have now made him a legend.  Though there were many big decisions that limited his rate of progression, he consistently got himself back on track toward his destiny and is now honored in so many ways.
  • Tina Turner-as if anything else needs to be said…from meager beginnings to horrible life circumstances that she experienced, even now when you hear her speak, she talks about “having arrived” and just living in gratitude every day because she has met her destiny, lived it, loved it, experienced it.
  • President Obama-your political opinions aside, c’mon, a biracial boy, raised by a single mother…now the President of the United States.  Not luck….destiny-focused decision-making.

Now, what do the fabulously fierce do from here?  Well,

First, we start to articulate the destiny we know is ours.  Pray about it, meditate on it, really take it in, and write it down.  No need to go screaming from the mountain tops with this one.  This is all about you just articulating it for yourself.

Second, think about and make note of the characteristics of your biography that you may have used as crutches in the past or as excuses for why you may have done things or not done things you should’ve.  For example, growing up, we didn’t travel much…or at all really.  We just didn’t have the funds.  So I actually would limit my perspective by focusing in on where we lived and the surrounding areas.  I didn’t pick up books about places that were interesting…assuming why should I, I’ll never be able to go there?  Not destiny–focused perspective at all. Don’t worry, I grew out of that perspective quick and early!

Third, accept your biography as just your foundation, your launch pad and you determine how much elevation you’ll take on through the decisions you’re going to make.  Do this by making three decisions today:

  1. Who will you connect with by the end of this year that will help you stay destiny-focused?  This is all about accountability.
  2. What is the first step you will take toward making progress toward your destiny?  By when?
  3. What excuses do you know you’ve allowed yourself to use that you will eliminate from your speak and your mindset, moving forward?

It’s a new day, folks, and I’m really excited for all that lies ahead in all of our decision-making processes moving forward. So here’s a small snippet on how I’m doing it: I had to make a decision between a new purse and a few new clothing items I wanted…not needed, but just wanted, and some new Living Fabulously Fierce t-shirts since so many people have been asking for them.  Now I could’ve just gotten what I wanted because I’m all about treating yourself every now and then, especially during your birthmonthJ  But, having to choose one over the other, I had to go with the decision that would help make progress toward fulfilling my destiny.  Sales from the t-shirts will go toward program for young girls.  How could I not?  Join me in this new w perspective!!!

Soundtrack of the week: Will I Am’s It’s a New Day

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #25-Facing Fear And Rising

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So funny, I didn’t even realize it until I got the message in my inbox.

Totally feeling like I’m in like with my purpose, and meeting the goal of earning the feedback I want at the end of my days…..”well done my good and faithful servant.”    And that the seeds that I’m sowing now are going to yield things and experiences beyond my wildest dreams and imaginings.  I’m actually setting into the promise I received as a senior at BC as I was stressing about my next steps…which were at the time, unknown to me.  Yet, I laid back in that bed in Voute Hall and actually heard the voice of God for the first time and then captured what I heard….

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…and  it’s happening!!!

Ok, now before I totally get myself off track.  Let me get us to this week’s factor to focus on: Facing Fear.  Now we’ve talked about fear one way or another here in the past and we’ve had some action plans from our focus on it, but what I want us to focus on here is shifting our perspective on fear.  I actually want us to F.E. A. R….Face Everything And Rise.

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See, as this picture depicts, when things are tough and present challenges to us, we usually face whatever it is and tend to run.  Running can look as subtle as asking the question “Why me?” or literally running from whatever the cause of your fear is…becoming a transplant, ending a relationship, cutting people out of your life, not letting anyone in, not taking on anything that presents a challenge…the list could go on and on and on (side note-man, how easily a song pop’s into my head).  What we have to do is shift our mindset about the things that cause us to get nervous, anxious, fearful.  We have to embrace those things, people, situations, as positive challenges. Here’s an example.

Believe it or not, there as a time that I was deathly, deathly afraid of public speaking.  I’m talking even afraid to raise my hand in class.  My FBA friends who “knew me when…” could give you some really good examples.  Then, my sophomore, I wanted to run for Student Council.  Well, that required delivering a speech to my peers and Mrs. Cerasuolo, our school Vice President (miss her).  Freaked out! BUT, while freaking out, I took on a volunteer role for the summer at the State House giving tours because I knew I’d have no choice but to speak to small and large groups.  I was sick to my stomach every morning.  It got to the point where my mother, who never lets you not finish anything you’ve started, actually told me “if you don’t want to do this, you really don’t have to.”  It was horrible.  But after facing that fear, by the end of the summer I had given over 100 tours and got better at speaking to large groups!!! 

Notice, I didn’t say the fear went away.  Even this week, I had to speak to 172 new hires at my firm and while I wasn’t afraid, I still got a few jitters…but I did it anyway.  What we have to do is commit to the facing of our fears.  Just face them and over time, they are no longer insurmountable.  Let’s be clear, it takes time for things that make us fearful to stop making us fearful….while I’m young, high school was a long time ago and I’m really just now, comfortable speaking while also getting just a bit nervous every time.  But it’s all good because at the end, I rise and that, that right there….that’s the goal.  That’s what conquering fear is.  It isn’t actually the immediate tearing down of fear.  It’s the process of rising above it, even though it’s presence slowly diminished. 

So, this week, I’m challenging you to live fabulously fierce by honoring the LFF anniversary and face everything with the confidence, the assuredness, the faith that it is inevitable that you will rise an there’s no stopping you then! For some of us, it’s been a long time coming!

By the way, it’s my birthday week (woot woot) and I never ask for much, but I would love to hear about what you’re planning to face and what you envision rising looking like for you!  Let me know!

Soundtrack of the week: Some inspiration for the phenomenal Maya Angelou and Leela James’ Long Time Coming

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #24-Being Present by Showing Up

This week I had the privilege of leading a workshop on confidence and executive presence to a group of professional women.  A lot came out of that session but what was most impactful for me was hearing what some of us are most afraid of in challenging settings….showing up!

Now, let’s just be honest about it.  As it relates to positions of influence and power, men are still leading the charge.  Just this week I learned of three new studies on compensation gaps between men and women for similar, if not the same work.  This does not mean we’re not making progress, but we can’t take Sheryl Sandberg’s advice of leaning in lightly.  Yet, for those of us with influence and power in leading organizations and leading our own entrepreneurial ventures, a good portion of us are still holding back.  We’re present, in the game, at the meetings, participating in networking events…but we’re not showing up.  What does this look like?  So glad you asked:

  • Giving the little voice of “Can’t” a bullhorn in your ear so that you even question whether you should be in the position you’re in
  • Dressing to the 9s for a meeting, so you look good, but letting the fact that you’re the youngest, the only female, and/or the only minority keep you from speaking up and offering your opinions and insight
  • Being afraid to ask questions because it might make you look like less of an expert

I could go on and on but this is the basics of not showing up.  This does not help to positively reinforce your brand.  What’s the point of a great outfit if no one knows what you have to offer?  Why even accept the invitation to a big meeting if you’re not planning to share some of the expertise that got you the invitation?  Why opt to not ask question?  The smartest, no the most brilliant people in the world are so because of their inquisitive mode of operating at all times!

So, what does this all boil down to?  Showing up!  It’s not enough to be present.  Wall paper is present!  Art and décor may spark conversation. But there is nothing like a fabulously fierce, confidently assured, woman showing up by:

  • Engaging in conversation by contributing insight and expertise
  • Asking questions for additional insight or to facilitate even deeper thought for others in the room
  • Leaving false humility at the door and walking in the power and influence that you have

So, this week, my friends, quite frankly, I’m challenging you to show up and either let people know who you are or remind them why you’re in the game.  The answer, quite simply, is because you’re fabulous.  And I am going to push even farther and ask you to roar!  Yup, be that bold because here’s a secret: when you start to challenge yourself to roar, it’s progressive and the roar that you hear in your ears from your own voice is but a whisper to others….and that’s ok.  Soon enough, you’re going to figure it all out, get more comfortable, and own it all! 

Go to a meeting with a planned question or two.  Remind yourself why you are where you are and how you’ve succeeded to the point you have so far.  Mentally see yourself engaged in any of the settings you know it will be important for you to reinforce your brand.  Ultimately, show up and don’t forget to let me know how it goes!

Soundtrack of the week: Katy Perry’s Roar

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #23-Appreciating Your Own Company

Man oh man, have the past few weeks been pretty tough for me.  I actually got sick!  I NEVER get sick so this was tough for me.  I basically just ran my body down through some recent intense workouts, not really taking time to take care of myself, balance, properly manage stress and the like.  Yup, I messed up and my body just said, “I’m going to show you a thing or two.”  About 10 days later my system is done teaching me a lesson.  What I learned….I really enjoy my own company!

See, when you’re sick, you can’t really be out and about, doing dinners with friends, catching movies, enjoying a nice glass of wine with good people, pushing yourself in kickboxing class, heading out for early morning runs, etc.  I couldn’t even get my church on.…that’s when you know I’m really in bad shape.  So, sick mode was all about recoup mood, solo.  I ended up spending a lot of time at home….in bed, on my couch, writing, reading, even painting.  Of course I had great music in the background so I could jam even while I was in my jammies.  Couldn’t have people over because I didn’t want to get them sick and so I really gave meaning to me, myself and I…for me.

Sometimes, living fabulously fierce is about just appreciating you, who you are, and what you have to offer, you.  I like making jewelry and often make pieces for others as birthday presents.  Made some pieces for myself.  I like going to the local art bars with friends and family.  My favorite spot in my house, my porch, became my personal art bar as I painted a few pieces.  And, beyond this, I really just chilled, watched television, slept…recuperated.  I realized that I really don’t need to be doing something grand every minute of the day to be fabulously fierce.  Sometimes, it really is about being solo and just enjoying your own company.  I’m not going to pretend it was easy.  My neighbor came over to check in on me a few times to “make sure you’re not doing anything like sneaking off to the gym.”  But, it was really cool to not actually be able to do anything (I was soooooooooooooo sleepy) and just appreciate the time, the peace, and the company everyone calls friend, sister, daughter, auntie, coworker….Farah. 

 

What next?  Well, I treated myself to a 4-day weekend which started Thursday. Today, while I wanted to wait to launch a spa club with a few friends, we’re going to hold off until the beginning of the year but two of us are heading to Exhale today…

all in prep for what will be a really hectic next few weeks for me.  Treating myself first and then will jump in fiercely to take it all on. 

So, I am recommending that we all plan our “Fabulously Fierce Company Day” and just treat yourself to a day in, even a weekend in with you to appreciate your own company.  For those of you who already do this and are good at it….you da women and I’m always interested in how I can be better about it…so share share share.  For those of you who have the energizer-bunny-until-your-battery-runs-out syndrome like me, let me know how you’re taking the first step to making time for you and appreciating your own company.

Soundtrack of the week: Jai Ho!  No special reason except for it was one of the songs I had on blast while painting last week 🙂  Enjoy

 

 

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #22-Being Trustworthy

“Every day we have the opportunity to build or tear down the trust of others.”

Marion Jones, 2011 MA Conference for Women

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While I know there’s been a ton of drama around her and what she’s accomplished, how she’s achieved her goals and the validity of her success, Marion Jones is absolutely fabulously fierce.  She is someone who knows the value of a lesson, no matter how hard.  More importantly, she doesn’t just sit with the knowledge, she owns it and lives her life purpose in acknowledgement of it.  Fierce indeed!  I grew up looking  up to her and admire her even more so now because of her life experience-based  wisdom.  When I had the opportunity to hear her speak just a couple years ago, a number of her points tuck with me, but her perspective on trust really resonated most.

Trust is a serious matter for me….it just always has been because I truly, truly, truly believe it is the deepest and preliminary foundation of any relationship. Think about it: What can I talk to you about, how can I be totally be transparent with you, how can I hold your hand, let my guard down, call you my friend, my brother, my sister, my man, my anything, if I cannot trust you?  I mean I can interact with you.  I can engage in dialogue with you, and can be cordial with you, but without the trust, you will never have all of me and I am open to question any part of you-what you say, what you do, the sincerity of all that you are.

Now, moment of truth and transparency, I know for a fact I have really high standards around this element of trust, more than the norm.  I own that!  And here’s the reason why: when I give someone my confidence, they’ve got it fully, completely, no question, no doubt!  One of my coworkers was actually just recently asked about some news that was made public.  The person who asked her said, “I know Farah’s really cool but do you think she may have share x?  Didn’t you tell her that it was not to be shared?”  To which my coworker responded, “Yea, I definitely told Farah it was confidential for now and to be honest, I know Farah and I could tell her I just killed someone and she couldn’t tell and believe me, it wouldn’t go anywhere even though she would finally get me to confess and then she’d walk to the police station with me, but it just wouldn’t go anywhere.”  Yup!  So if I’m giving that level of trust (don’t worry, no one has been killed and I haven’t had to walk to the police station with anyone to confess anything) I totally expect it. 

Does this position me for disappointment?  Uh, can I get a YEAH!!!!!!!!!  And I’m always reminded of my friend Monica Cost’s coaching to me early in my career, “Farah, you have to learn like I have, that you can’t have the same expectations of others that you have of yourself.  Otherwise, you really are just always going to be disappointed.”  She’s right and I totally get it so what have I really learned…and accepted?  Well, the only person I can control is me.  The only brand I can take ownership for, good, great, fabulous, and however short of perfect, is mine, mine, mine.  And with that, I’m always committed to being trustworthy. 

I always want folks to know that they can trust me, as they see me, as they experience me, and as they confide in me.  What does all of this mean?  Well:

To trust me as you see me and experience me has to do with consistency.  See this can be really tough sometimes, especially for those of us who don’t really know who we are.  Ummm, have you seen Evelyn Lozada’s interview with Iyanla Vanzant. 

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I’m NOT bashing here, because you all need to know that she is totally on her way to increased self-awareness and ownership of who she is, but her past experiences are a great example of the consequences of inconsistency.  What it really boils down to is quite simple:  When it comes to who we are, what people see is what they get?   Noooooooow, does this mean you never lose your temper, that you’re always happy and never sad, that you’re always showing your pearly whites and never cry.  Nope!  That would jst be crazy.  What it does mean is that anything outside of how you normally show up yields the reaction of “you need a vacation or just a quick break” instead of, for example “I don’t know which Evelyn we’re going to get today.  Table top standing throwing wine bottles Evelyn, or family-focused genuine caring daughter, sister, mother Evelyn.”

In terms of confidences, ladies, it’s so simple, we need to be able to trust each other.   How many times have you or someone you know started a conversation:  “ok, so don’t say anything but Suzy told me she….and that her man…and that blah blah blah.”  Suzy told you because she needed to confide in someone.  Now’ here’s the reality, in some instances, Suzy shouldn’t have even told you because you know, and she knows, you two are really not cool like that.  BUT, let her know before she starts dishing stuff out to you that you know you’re not going to keep to yourself.  It might just be as simple as, Are you sure you want to share this with me?  or I know we’re cool, but it sounds like you’re about to say something really personal…are you asking me to keep this to myself?  And then take responsibility for being trustworthy.  And, hey, I’m including myself in this because just like all of you, and don’t roll your eyes at me, we all love a good story.  But when it comes to your circle, to your friends, to your sisters, to your aces, c’mon,  just commit to doing better.  So, I know there’s a girl code.  But I’m going to start off the list to the Grown Women’s Code of Living Fabulously Fierce with the first item on the list being 1-Maintain a reputation of being trustworthy by building the trust of others, or risk the consequences of tearing down the trust of others.  Essentially, operate so that others know they can count on you.

Soundtrack of the week: A little mushy…ok downright cheesy but enjoy Whitney Houston and CeCe Winans’ Count on Me

Living Fabulously Fierce-Where do we go from here?!?!

 

Happy Labor Day, my friends!

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Hope you’re having a fabulous day and enjoying time with friends and family, or….if you so choose like I have, having fabulously relaxing low key day focused on some reflection and catching up with some good peeps. 

I couldn’t fall asleep last night after a quick weekend trip to Montreal to visit my aunt but still woke up pretty early…not a shocker to my friends who are reading this.  So of course, I got up, treated myself to a homemade waffle with nutella, tea and read a few chapters of The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.

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Honestly only picked up the book because the author had the same last name.  We must be family so I’ve gotta support …heheh.    Then headed to the gym for an intense arms workout and a few miles on the treadmill. 

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Then came home, put together what I think is a fab outfit and fixed myself a healthy lunch. 

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Now just chilling here with you good people.  Now you know I don’t go into long schpeels like this for no good reason… 

Soooooooo, we just wrapped up the branding process-the simple version-and a number of you have already reached out asking “What next?”  A few of you have even asked “seriously, where do we go from here?”  I love it when you give me some reach out love…helps me know that I’m not talking to myself in the blogosphere.  So to answer your question, first we just continue branding!  I mean it people, this is not a process that just ends after you get through the three phases.  This is an every day activity.  You really have to be committed to being your best self, every day, reflecting the experience that you want everyone to have with you. 

Yes this means even when you don’t feel well, even when you’re not on you’re a game.  Nope, not about facades, but about giving the best level of who you are, every day.  For example, my brand is fabulously fierce and having people experience joy whenever they interact with me.  Does that mean I’m 100% joy, fabulousness, and fierceness every day.  DEFINITELY NOT!  BUT, what it is does mean is that if I have 75% of this to give on a specific day, then hey, I’m going to give my 75% and not 50%.  ‘A’ game all the way, every day, with an appreciation that my ‘A’ game on a holiday when I don’t have to worry about doing the hustle and bustle of a workday is 150% and I’m  reaching for 100% every other day that the hustle requires me to jump up out of bed, continuously adjust flex, move, manage, balance, prioritize etc but I may only have 80% in me for whatever reason.  You know how I like to make things applicable and real so…another example…

My workout today was FIERCE!  I gave my best to every arm curl, tricep press, ab curl, oblique twist, squat, plank and mile that I ran.  I didn’t have any meetings for the day that I had to mentally prepare for which sometimes happens during my workout, no train that I had to make sure that I didn’t miss, no need to rush to my next “thing” so I had 100% t give and think I actually gave 100%+.  I already know tomorrow’s going to be different because I know me.  Even as I mentally prepare to keep focused during tomorrow’s workout, I’m a thinker, so I’m going to push, push, push to go with the same force that I had today, the same game, the same focus, but, I believe I can push to 90% during my 6:30a.m. workout tomorrow and so I’m going to commit to that, and during my workout push to get to a little more, knowing that that’s going to be the best I can do and I’m going to do that. 

Also, beyond this continuous focus on personal branding, we have to focus on continuous well-being–mentally, physically, spiritually!  This is all so important, and I believe we’re always positioned to be better in every area of our lives.  Even today, my instagram post was all about continuous improvement.  So, I’m introducing two things:

The Bernier Personal Branding Boston Workshop Series:  Get ready, get ready, get ready!  I’m asking you now, not to look forward to the new year for another set of resolutions.  Instead, get ready for a collaborative approach to personal branding.  More details to come but for those of you locals who have been asking for live sessions, mark your calendars!  January 2014 is going to be our opportunity to kick off the branding process with other fabulously fierce women, right here in Boston on Newbury Street!  Details to come.

LFF365:  This is all about every day healthy living…not because I have all the answers, not because I know what to do and what not to do, but because I’m game to go through the process with all of you and see what we learn and how we develop together. 

Essentially, we’re going to continue with our LFF Factors here on LivingFabulouslyFierce.  We’re going to have more opportunities to catch up too on how we’re living healthy lives, together.  Most of my posts around this are on my instagram page…feel free to follow, but I’ll be better about posting here too and definitely, definitely want to hear from you.

Aaaaaaand!  I’m so excited about meeting those of you interested in the live sessions in January!

For now, I’m heading to Whole Foods for some items for this week’s meals.  Hope you enjoy the rest of your day and to set you up for an amped week…

Soundtrack of the week: Mary J. Blige’s Just Fine