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:

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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…..

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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