Features and Flaws, Flaws and Features, Maybe it’s all one and the same?

I LOVE toggling the worlds of corporate America and empire building: leading talent management in the technology industry and applying my light in our universe to coaching.  I truly consider it a blessing! I am literally ALWAYS learning, and for me, the best thing about learning is not being smarter, wiser, better. It’s actually sharing what I’ve learned with others not just so they can be smarter, wiser and better, but so their light also gets elevated for impact and inspiration!

One of the product area VPs I partner with asked for a meeting with me so we could dig deeper into some org design work this week.  We’d started a few weeks ago and now it was time to follow-up with some execution points. Of course, we’ve already hit a few hiccups to our original plan because….well….people! So, we were honing deeper into some of the requirements of a few new opportunities we’re digging into on the business side and how we leverage the teams most effectively for impact and truly lead in our space.  At one point, he shared what he had shared with a few direct reports that were addressing an interpersonal dynamic that had come up,

“but what they don’t understand is that that very dynamic on the team is actually one of their best features, not a bug.  It not only serves the work but if they could just see that it serves everyone on that team too, the impact would be truly immeasurable.”

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!

Now, I’m not true techie (eg engineer/designer) but that spoke so many different things to me.  Essentially, what I understand is that a feature is basically a code that performs a specific action.  For example, speed dial is a feature (ok, duh, I know). It performs the specific action of calling someone via this way instead of having to actually dial that person’s full phone number.  

Now, a bug is whatever in the code would allow that feature to work, not actually being input correctly and as a result when you hit speed dial, it either does nothing or….say something crazy like takes a screenshot.  

For most of us, generally speaking, if something doesn’t work, it’s easier to just go get something new and replace what isn’t actually working.  An engineer, however, takes on the challenge to go through and debug, finding the error in the source of the code that is leading to the bug, fix it and facilitate the feature getting back to normal, performing it’s specific action.  

Now, imagine if instead of taking that route, the focus was just on the bug….

it doesn’t work

it’s not doing what I want it to do

it’s so frustrating

it’s not letting me get done what I want to do

and so on and so on and so on.  Stand still. No progress. And just a major adult tantrum with nothing else going on, looking at the whole as flawed and therefore worthless.  

Again, I’m sure there’s much more behind all of this and I’m taking some serious license in my explanation here but as it relates to us, I see this translating to the things we get caught up on as features gone bad, if you will, and get stuck in what we then call flaws.  A few that I often hear from my clients as their coach are:

  • I procrastinate
  • I daydream A LOT
  • I don’t put myself first and end up prioritizing everyone else
  • I’m horrible at time management
  • I don’t have the confidence to do x, y, or z
  • I’m just not that disciplined
  • I don’t do the best job of appreciating my husband

Now, those of us who identify with any of these could just accept that we’re procrastinators……we let our daydreams be the best part of of our days….we continue to prioritize everyone else because, and one client actually said this, “well, I guess that’s just what it means to be a wife and a mother, right?”….we could just accept that constant mode of letting time manage us…wallow in our lack of self-confidence, envying others who are more confident than us to be daring, bold, and fabulously fierce…allow the impact of having no discipline to take shape and just accept weight gain, health issues, disorder, interpersonal frustrations, hope and pray that our spouse doesn’t just go seek appreciation elsewhere (yup, real talk here).

You know what engineers do?  They go to the bug….investigate the flaw.  My understanding of that process (thanks to Google search results) is the following:

  1. Identify the error
  2. Find the error
  3. Analyze the error
  4. Prove your analysis
  5. Cover lateral damage
  6. Fix the error
  7. Validate the solution

Ok, ok, I know this needs some breaking down to make it more relevant.  Let’s take my flaw, my bug if you will, of not being able to run a half marathon with my friends, Lily and Jacquie.

  1. Identify the error: Mindset-I can’t run.  I’m really not confident in my ability to do this.   
  2. Find the error: What information do I have to confirm that I can’t do it?  Hellooooooo….I’ve never done it before. I will die. I know you think I’m being dramatic, but I will die….ok, a little dramatic….moving on….  
  3. Analyze the error: Input-Mindset shift and self-reflection. Is it really that I can’t run? Might it be that I just don’t have the confidence to run a full half-marathon, but I can run a little more than I can today, every day until the half-marathon? Are there things that I can do today that I wasn’t able to do years ago?  Months ago? Weeks ago? Heck, yesterday?!??!?!? Yes, yes, yes, and OMG yes!
  4. Prove your analysis: I’ve determined that I can actually run…yes, I know how to do that.  Now I need to know how far I can actually go, from an endurance standpoint, to determine how much farther I need to push myself to get to and establish a plan to do that.  
  5. Cover lateral damage: So this is about just making sure not to create any other bugs/flaws while addressing the one I’m focusing on.  In the case of addressing my level of confidence in my ability to train and ultimately run this feat, I had to set my mind right, ensure I have the right training plan for me, not compare myself to my friends who not only have done this before but done it multiple times over, and practically get the right gear, set a manageable schedule, track my progress and not get set back by any challenging training points.
  6. Fix the error: Get to the solution-execute on the training plan, track my progress and compare week over week progress, pushing myself every week, embracing the progress as inspiration to just. keep. going!
  7. Validate the solution:  In coding, this is about testing your scripts to fix the bug and making sure they pass your test.  For me, with my flaw, I had to use the training plan as the script and tracking the progress as my test to determine yes, I can run.  Yes, every week I’m running farther than I did the week before. Yes, Every week I’m getting closer and closer in my ability to run the full distance of 13k.  Guess what? A couple of months ago, I wasn’t even measuring in miles. I only really started running, with intention, two months ago and at that time, brace yourselves, three songs without stopping was my target before taking a break and doing that over and over again until I finished my three miles.  As of yesterday’s run, not only did I run farther than ever before without stopping, 4.58 Miles to be exact, I hit my fastest pace ever at 10:33 mins per mile! I’m not yet where I want to be, but I’m absolutely not where I was when I started, tracking progress with three to seven minute songs that never gave me insight into really how far I could go like this script did.

So what?  Let’s stop looking at ourselves as entities with features vs flaws.  Living fabulously fierce involves accepting everything about ourselves with an understanding that we are constantly evolving works in progress.  We have many features that serve us either as benefits and strengths, or those that need some honing in on to shift from resting as flaws and more as opportunities to “debug” through self-reflection (and coaching, for the really proactive ;)) and reinforce our purpose for being, the specific actions we’re here to fulfill.  So, here’s to features and flaws, really all one and the same for the fabulously fierce!

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Perception Power, Perspective Power, the Power to Reframe!

Perception is quite a powerful thing.  It is perception that actually leads to perspective.  Both contribute to how we take in information and experiences, and assess them as opportunities or challenges, directly impacting how we choose to show up in the world.
So, what’s the difference?  
Essentially, perception has to do with our mental impressions.  Perception is why you and I can both be experiencing the same exact thing yet have very different reactions.  Example: rain….simple example….I LOVE THE RAIN. Honestly, everything about rain just makes me really happy and puts me in very peaceful mood.  See, for me, rain is actually more music than just the wet stuff that can mess up your hair and require you to change an outfit. Now, for someone else, their perception of rain might be the latter-it messes everything up from how we plan to start our day because of what it requires and may actually also be very dangerous….hello flooding.  Now as you can imagine, that leads to two very different attitudes in reaction to rain. The former perception (rain=music) results in a positive perspective towards the rain, a positive attitude, while the latter (rain=change of outfits, potential hazard), results in a more critical perspective.
Now, where the power, our power, rests is really in perspective-that attitude we take in everything we face and encounter.  In reality, given a particular situation, perceptions may be accurately more constructive than positive. Keeping with our rain example, if I’m just perceiving rain as music and when I walk out the door not prepared with rain boots, an umbrella, and the right jacket, not only will I soon enough look a hot mess, but it would also be fair for me to get a few stares reinforcing, that I need to get it together.  But what I don’t have to do is be more critical with a negative perspective, an attitude of frustration, annoyance, and the like. I can prioritize getting the right gear but the right gear that makes me happy to be out in the rain. See this pic?
florence rain
This was in Florence, Italy a few years ago.  We were out and about and it just would not stop raining, and quite frankly, it was a little annoying.  Fortunately, I did have the right jacket, boots, and a hat but I didn’t have an umbrella and definitely needed one.  I found this really cute one (for five euros no less; yes, I remember these things) and then, me and my happy-go-lucky self was dancing in the rain….ok, a little crazy, but happy, leveraging a perspective that helped me enjoy the weather and go on my merry little way continuing to enjoy all that was around me, including the company I was with.  I didn’t let rain get the best of my attitude and my time in this wonderful city!
So, again, what’s this all about? The power of reframing!  It’s about looking at all that presents itself as more of a challenge than an opportunity to us, based on our perception, and taking a more intentional approach in how we react.  
Let’s just be honest, life is hard.  There’s the old adage that if you’re not going through something right now, well get ready because soon enough, your something to go through will reveal itself.  Simply put, channel Alanis Morrisett’s Isn’t it Ironic.   That might sound negative but friends, that just life.  
Just as there is light in the world, there is darkness.
Just as there is family that that fills our soul, there can disappointment in our expectations of family.
Just as there are friends for whom we would do anything for because that’s what friendship is all about, there are seasons where we realize the friendship scale is out of balance and we have to determine how best to address the situation.
Just as there are wonderful employment and/or entrepreneurial opportunities that come our way, man oh man do they also present major challenges we just didn’t expect (hello trying to make payroll for your employees).

 

 Life.  This doesn’t mean it isn’t great or even barely good, it just means that life is all about seasons and just like there are days in which it seems like the warmth of the sun will be eternal, its light can fade when clouds come in and we have to find our way of making it through.  One tool is that of reframing.
 Reframing is our ability to take a situation, challenge, or circumstance that is pretty taxing and weighty and flip it, applying an interpretation of how this may actually serve us and how we can productively show up to handle whatever it is.   
I recently benefited from someone else’s reframing for me that actually was more of an opportunity than a challenge.  A few months back I started taking tap dance lessons again. It. has. not. been. easy….. at all. I have an extraordinary instructor who’s also just a really cool chick!  She’s reintroducing me to different steps, challenging me with a few others, and even pushing me into the next level class already. It’s all really, really good, but when you’re learning something new, most of us, if not all, hone in on the technical pieces of whatever it is we’re trying to pick up.  In this case,
she teaches a new step and I focus on the movements with the counts.
she adds in the music and I’m saying each step in my head to ensure my feet are moving on the right counts.
she pushes a little more and I get laser focused on watching her feet in the mirror more than my own to make sure I get it right.
And yes, I’m being a bit tough on myself and seeing this more as a challenge than anything else.  She sees and understands all of this. Then, at the end of our class two weeks ago, she says,
“ok, before you go, there’s just one more very important thing I really need you to know.  Tap is about the dance, it is about the movements and the steps and the counts and making sure you land everything.  While all of this is important, what’s probably slightly more important is to understand what really makes tap unique.  Tap is distinctive in that it is really the only type of dance that actually makes music. It’s as much about the music you’re making with each step as it is about the step.  Not that i’m encouraging this but just think, even if you miss a step, you’re still making music, and missing a step or mistakenly adding a step is just about creating a new sound!”  
 That right there, that’s a reframe!  
 Don’t settle on the struggle, the challenge, the mistake.  Just appreciate the new sound you created and keep it moving.  And if you’re really daring, hone in on your remixing instead of defaulting to reacting.
 In this life we think there are certain steps and moves we have to make in response to everything we see or don’t see; everything we experience or don’t get to experience;  everyone we expect to connect with or those with whom we don’t.
What if we let go of our perception of challenges as just tough or hard or disappointing and see how whatever we’re facing can actually serve us. Taking it a step further how can we serve the situation, elevating from a reframe to a remix and bask in the sound of our music, the music of our distinctive ways of handling  stuff than the norm, than the default.
Let’s all REFRAME-commit to shifting from settling into problems as just that, problems and move into seeing what opportunities we can seize from said problems and challenges proving to ourselves just how fabulously fierce we are!  This week’s challenges have no idea what’s coming for them….but we do!!!!

 

Owning the Power in Your Story!

You’ll never know the power of your story if you don’t share it.  There’s actually a bit more to it than that but one of the most overlooked sources of our own power to influence and inspire others, and make our contributions to changing the world is our own life story.

What I have found, whether it be when coaching clients, connecting with friends, and/or listening to coworkers is that when someone is going through something, or just needs a pick me up, they don’t actually need a formula, three step model, or guide to living your most fabulous life.  What they need is acknowledgement and relatability.  No, this is not about stepping into someone’s reflection space and making it all about you.  It’s about sharing your own truth in your experiences-the ups, the downs and everything in between- that helps other people.  It literally has the power to change lives.

See, here’s the thing, when we share our story-who we are, how we’ve gotten to where we are, our experiences-it helps others realize that there’s more that is similar between us than different.  It’s the acknowledgement that none of us has such uniquely wonderful and challenging seasons of life that no one else can relate.  And even when things may seem to be so different in our experiences, even in the differences, there is inspiration in the distinctions that yield.  

By nature, I am an observer, a listener.  Interestingly though, those closest to me who really know me intimately would say, yes but she’s also a yapper.  Even my mother who is he most patient person in the world will every once in a blue moon say, ok, Farah that’s enough…I need to digest.  But what I m learning is that it isn’t natural for me to share much about who I am, where I’ve been , what I’ve done, what I haven’t done etc.  It’s just not my natural tendency.  But when I do, I observe a lightening up of the person or the group that I’m talking to.  For instance, I just got back from brunch with newer friend and as we were talking, I shared some things that I thought she knew about and her eyes just kept lighting up.  At least three times in our conversation, she said, “You know I’m just so proud of you and you’ve absolutely motivated me to “x” which I’ve been trying to do for a few years now.  Now, I know someone who’s done it and I can too!”

Now, can I just tell you how much that literally just made my week!  I don’t need anything else from today or this week!  Seriously!  And all this from just sharing with her some things about who I am, where I’ve been, how I’ve gotten ‘here’ and where I’m hoping to go.  And guess what, no, I didn’t share just all the lovely wonderful, fun, happy, blissful parts.  There are some real, real “in betweens”, the tough stuff, that I shared with her, not to vent, but it’s clear….. life is hard, it is tough, it gets ug u leeeee (ugly 🙂 , but the wonderful thing is none of those seasons are forever.

So what’s the problem….what’s the opportunity?  It’s really about what we do with our story.  See, in a world of insta this and snap that and tweet that I’m here and facebook that I’m going there, we actually don’t get to really hone in on what our story really is. The story of our life journey.   For instance, a few years back during my first trip to Italy, I was taking pics all over Venice, Florence and Rome and posting like it was my j.o.b.  What I had to also set aside time to do, especially in Venice with all that gelato calling my name every corner was think about what was happening for me in that season.  So much came out of that for me.  So much that I owned for myself about some of the tough stuff I had gotten through, and was getting through.  So much that I now own being able to share with other people.  So much that actually to date has inspired friends who say, “you know what, after seeing you do that I knew I needed to stop playing games and just take my own solo trip. “ There’s power in our story.

Unfortunately, we tailor our story, especially as it is unfolding.  We message what we think others want to see and hear.  We modify truths to try to make things more palpable for ourselves and others.  Instead of saying that I grew up in a really tough neighborhood, I might say, well we weren’t in the best part of Boston but it wasn’t the worst while there’s some young person there now who needs to know that where you may be now doesn’t determine where you need to stay but you have the opportunity to determine where you will go.  Beyond that we amplify pieces that we think are more enjoyable for folks.  I work at Google and yes it has been ranked the best place to work for many years and I love the opportunities I get to seize every day.  That’s what people want to hear and I’ll amplify that truth instead of another truth that every day I am exercising change management skills in an organization that has reached another milestone in its existence and you know what….it’s hard.  It’s just not easy.  Finally we minimize hard choices we’ve had to make because of the perception we’re afraid of others having of us.  I’ve had to leave relationships that I fully enjoyed but just knew they weren’t good for me long-term.  That goes for relationships with guys and friendships that just weren’t what they needed to be in realm of mutual respect, care, concern and love.  And if I’m really honest, there’s been heartbreaking familial relationships that yup, I opted put me first and left pieces of those on the table walking away knowing that the choice was mine….and owned it!  

See it’s not all lovely.  It’s not all pretty.  It definitely isn’t all glamorous or instagramable.  But you know what.  It’s all mine.  It’s the story of Farah Bernier.  And I love every bit of it because I recognize that every part of my story has value.  Even the pieces I looooooooooathe.  They’re all valuable.  Every last piece.  And where I might not see the value in my sharing, it serves someone else.

So what’s my point?  Your life story to date is a reflection of the light you bring into this world.  The light you can bring into someone else’s world.  It all has value.  So, don’t hold back. Don’t minimize it.  Don’t tailor, modify, minimize any of it.  Just own it, make it your own, then when invited and/or when opportunities just arise, share your truth.  You just never know who may need to hear it because it compliments their truth because they realize they’re not the only one or even if it’s so different that it’s not actually complimentary, it still can inspire.  It could amplify both your realities.  Own the power of your story!

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Operating in awe! Moving in inspiration!

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I’m absolutely still in awe.  See, I have been blessed and favored to some incredibly amazing things in this world and I am beyond grateful for all of it!  From the Taj Mahal to the Galapagos Islands and everything in between, I can’t begin to express the appreciation I have for all things I believe we can agree are absolutely beautiful.  That being said, this weekend, I was fortunate to experience what I actually think is truly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen: Black Panther!  REMARKABLE doesn’t even begin to capture the beauty that it is but it’s a fair start.  Please stick with me here!

This is absolutely a thing of beauty and no, I’m not just talking about all the fabulousness that is on the screen but…how can we not go there?  This is an incredible masterpiece of artistic magic that has a boldness without that unwarranted force and yet still a force to be reckoned with!  (Let that sink in for a moment).  Everything, every piece, every decision around set, characters, lines, the details of the story….BEAUTIFUL!  Absolutely beautiful.  Wakanda…..WHAT!!!?!?!?!?!?! TAKE ME THERE NOW!  I know, I know….only in our dreams.  And. All. That. Melanin!  Every bit of it.  (Pause- can I also just say…..Ms. Bassett.  #AgingGoals #Flawless).

Now here’s where I challenge us to go beyond what the eye can see and dig deeper into leadership, community, purpose, accountability, and FUN!  

Leadership:  Every time I heard “General”, I just wanted to say, “I know that’s right!” With every action taken that was appropriately calculated, strategic, focused on the macro before jumping into tactical, yet without delay, there were major lessons to be learned.  And, the focus on bold and confident servant leadership-whoa!  I wish I had a pen a paper to take some serious notes but I just didn’t know class was actually about to be in session!

Community: From women fixing each other’s “crowns” to men focusing on the collective to the young prioritizing impact on the world through technology to….I can go on and on and on! What if we focused that way….no matter how we feel about  each other (“don’t scare me like that colonizer” hahahahahah!)?  What if we prioritized the whole of who we are together rather than what we want to be individually? And to extend this even further….my people, my people…the community instantly built in the theatres!  Yes, most of the audiences were black but the beauty of Black Panther is also that it is actually pushing beyond even what we sometimes  limit brotherhood and sisterhood to, extending to “familyhood”.  So, I’m in Silicon Valley and I definitely saw my Asian, LatinX, white and everything in between brethren sitting right there taking everything in with the rest of us and we were all there…..together!

Purpose: There is so much about knowing who you are that positions you to push forward in this life through any obstacle, challenge, and perceived barrier that shows up to take you off course.  Identity is not something to be taken lightly in any way shape or form.  I truly believe that what we are experiencing in the horrors of our present-day living is all tied to our individual limited awareness, understanding and appreciation of who we are…..of our identity.  And here, Black Panther spins so many micro-sessions throughout the whole movie calling characters, and us, to focus on our identity in order to hone in on progression in fulfilling our purpose.  Beautiful!

Accountability:  Can you say squad goals!?!?  I don’t even know what to say here without giving too much away but there are so many moments in which there is a challenge to actions taken and those not taken (eg Nakia and Okeye) and it’s all about accountability.  No one lets anyone off the hook….not even the “colonizer” (haha-yes, I’m still laughing at that one line).  And everyone is respected for their decisions, no matter if there is agreement in the decision or not….it’s about accountability!  Beautiful!

Fun:  What I also love is that everything on that screen, in this film, reflects a love for life in all of its glory.  There is celebration even in the midst of the struggle.  There is positive anticipation in the midst of intense preparation for challenge.  There is jovial, familial engagement and connectedness in the midst of heaviness and labor.  It’s about not settling into the one side of the coin that harps on heaviness, darkness, and challenges us to press beyond that, even stealing glimpses of light in the dark veil of weightiness because even in the pursuit of what is greater than us individually, there is always the silver lining of what our purpose can offer to the world.   Always. Beautiful!

Finally, the most beautiful part of all of this is what is happening now.  Even as you read this.  Our minds, perceptions, realm of understanding each other is expanding.  There is a shifting of the times-slowly but I have to believe surely.  I got to see more people on a screen who look like me, doing incredible things, in a ways that was all inspiring than ever before, in all of my life.  Think about that for a moment.  And this is not just about me.  This is about an overwhelming feeling that what was missing for me as a kid is no longer the same limitation that little black and brown girls and boys will face.  New realities are developing that are challenging us to think bigger, broader, and for the love of God, MORE INCLUSIVELY! We’re hearing and seeing more about Afrofuturism, a term first used over ten years (thank you Ms. Alondra Nelson, Mr. Sam Delaney, Ms. Octavia Butler) but just now getting the attention needed to get us all to push through our our limited understanding and appreciation of the world and what we think it is and should be.  There is self-love brewing! From the young to the old, identity is being positively influenced, reinforced, re-established and confirmed!  YAAASSSSSSS!  BRING IT!  

So what does one do with all of this?  It’s pretty simple actually.  I would submit that we just take it all in.  Embrace it all, even in the face of blatant hate in many forms tied to this work and piece of awe (shocker, there are many who are actively trying to take away from the impact of this work).   Then, take it a step further, go beyond that beauty seen and observed, and operate in inspiration, the inspiration to play your part in taking that awe  into the day to day to facilitate moments of magic just like this, in our own ways, facilitating inclusion, fostering familyhood, across the board!

So, yup, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen….not just because of what is seen on the screen, but also because what is yet to be seen but already in motion and being experienced!  Black Panther!  If ya don’t know, now ya know……and get your ticket.  I’m about to get another!!!!

And to think…..this actually started as a two-line facebook post: “Black Panther, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.  Time to get another ticket!”  #Inspired

Inspired indeed!

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Keys to Living Fabulously….YOU!!!!

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“Let’s live our 2018 fabulously fierce!”
“Please write a post on living FF with tips!”
(Here you go CF & TM 🙂 )

I so appreciated this request from a couple of friends at the start of the year for various reasons but mostly because it was a beautiful reminder to me that none of us is on this journey of living fabulously fierce alone and a few key reminders never hurt anyone.

So, living fabulously fierce….what exactly does it mean? My mom is one of the most committed Living Fabulously Fierce brand ambassadors! She rocks her sweatshirt whenever, wherever she can. Early on, after being asked by friends and even strangers about her gear, she came to me, “Farah, what is this LFF? What does Living Fabulously Fierce mean?”

Now, my mother is the sweetest, nicest, gentlest, most peaceful person you will ever meet. But, when she asks a question, your answer better be on point, clear…and quick! Talk about being ready for a rocket pitch at any point in time! So I shared, “…well, it’s basically just a call to action to be your most daringly authentic self…at all times, knowing who you are and committing to being as true to you as you can be. It’s not about perfect. It’s more about authenticity beyond measure…role-modeling that mode of living and inspiring others to do the very same!”

“Oh, ok! That’s good!” Thanks mom….#MsSuperReservedandComposedAtAllTimes 🙂

So how does that translate to our reminder for today? Well, to live fabulously fierce…
Know you. Sounds simple but this comes down to having to answer the deep questions of life, including

  • Who am I?
  • What do I represent?
  • What do I value? Not the values I’ve inherited….what are my self-determined values?
  • What do I bring into this world and what would be missing if I weren’t here?
  • How am I unique?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What am I not so great at but actually interested in improving?
  • What do I really care about? What don’t I care about?

Embrace you…just as you are… all of you…every. bit. of. you. We live in a world that constantly encourages continuous self-comparison and devaluing self-critique. It really takes away from the opportunity to look at the whole picture of who we are, what we bring into this world and our unique experiences. We actually have to commit to embracing all of the positive pieces of who we are, validated by us and others, as well as those characteristics that may not be so valued. These pieces may position us as not comparatively the best, distinct, or even unique but they are part of the masterpiece that is us. This is all about self-definition, deciding for ourselves that which is valuable. The challenge is that until you and I embrace the whole of who we are, we don’t fully appreciate the beauty that is us. The distinction. That which we and the world need. So drop the pursuit of being flawless and commit to leveraging the whole picture of you- strengths, blemishes, and opportunities for continued progress. Works in progress…they still work…still have value.

Be unapologetically you. I recently saw a post quoting Mindy Kaling. She shared “I do idiotic things all of the time and I say crazy stuff that I regret. But I don’t let everything traumatize me”. What this says to me is that not only does she embrace all of who she is, she doesn’t let hiccups or the huge mistakes keep her from still just showing up as Mindy…unapologetically. Nothing ‘mess up’ brings her to the traumatic point of holding back on being herself. She is unapologetically her and takes the good, the great, and the consequences of it!

Accept inspiration. None of us, not one, not friggin one of us has everything figured out. It is absolutely impossible to and anyone who says they do or portrays they do is flat out lying or playing up a facade that serves absolutely no one. Yup, got a little passionate there…ok, a lot 🙂 ! I was actually recently hurt by someone trying to pay me a compliment. Wait for it….a coworker…she asked, literally through tears “What do you mean you don’t know what you’re doing on this? You always have everything figured out and you walk around like you know everything and you just do everything right.” My response, “Ummm, false, but I appreciate your perception of me….though clearly it’s serving neither one of us.” My point? See, that woman you think has it all together, appreciate her. Appreciate that she’s actually just like you, a work in progress…but beyond that she’s caught your attention in how she’s embracing being a work in progress. Accept the inspiration she is offering in her role modeling as just that, an offer to leverage it, not to compare yourself or your skills to her, diminishing your own value of self. And feel free to tell her you think she’s a badass! But leave it at that, as inspiration….and move on applying it as motivation. And if you can’t do any of that for whatever reason, it’s ok, you’re human, just take on a bit of grace and keep it moving.

Be an inspiration. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, in the face of the frustrating days and seasons, as well as the fabulous ones, recognize that there is at least one person striving to get to where you are, as you are, and others watching you and every move you make because you’re a model for them. Hold yourself to a standard that reflects how you would want others to reflect your strengths, your fabulousness, your fierce.

Ignite new motivation, fuel, and fire for yourself every day through intention setting. Life is short. There’s never enough time. Never. I learned very, very, very young that no next day is promised. Losing friends and family early in life sucks, but it teaches you to be grateful for every day and every experience. Also, it reminds you to be intentional about your living. No this doesn’t mean be perfect. It means no matter how bad the day before was, how busy your morning is, set an intention for the day…even if it is just to make it through. Decide how you’re living for the day, don’t let the day decide.

Celebrate! Celebrate you. You. are. amazing. You are such a gem. You are worthy of all that you’re experiencing. You are such of model of strength, positivity, influence….even if you can’t feel it, see it…or don’t even believe it. See, you woke up today. Even if on a scale of 1-10 you’re kicking in at a .05 on being fabulously fierce, that’s enough to pick up, keep moving and get to 1 tomorrow, and 2 the next day, 5 next month and 10 whenever you’re ready.

So there, don’t tell me living fabulously fierce is hard…or that it’s too much of a call to action for you….or that it’s a heavy level of accountability. YOU’RE ALREADY DOING IT! Just take on the opportunity to elevate that state of living! So glad we’re on this ride together!
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What if New Year’s Had Nothing to do with Resolutions?

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(Dedicated to CF & TM…Pt 1 😉 )

Truth moment:  I’m so not a resolutions kinda girl.  I know that may sound weird coming from someone who’s so goal-oriented, a planner, super “Type A”, and has the bold audacity to serve as a coach for others.  I know, I know.  But here’s the thing, I am for and support all of those things and approaches to living, but the hype around New Year’s…enjoyable, but the resolutions bit….it always gets me….gets to me.

I won’t go so far as to say that I’m anti-resolutions but what I find is that we often set resolutions in an effort create a new us….establish a different persona….distinguish ourselves away from our uniqueness and in some form or fashion in alignment with other’s expectations of who we should be, even when we say that it’s all about us and what we want for ourselves.  Example: The most popular new year’s resolution is to lose weight…..not to be healthy.  Also, according to research by private health company Bupa, 63% of people fail their new year’s resolutions.  All of this being said, to each their own, right?  And I will always, always, always respect another’s approach to their own means of living fabulously fierce…living fabulously whatever he or she chooses.  However, what if New Year’s was more about embracing who we are more and more, every day, recognizing that the more we focus on that, the more it is inevitable that we continue to unfold into our best selves over time!

See, we all come into this world as an incredible force to be reckoned with.  We are all literally fearfully and wonderfully made.  Think about that for a minute….really, let it sink in.  You are fearfully…wonderfully made… in all of your uniqueness, areas of flawlessness and areas full of blemishes.  It’s all you and it’s incredibly extraordinary!  We all know this but with the passing of time, we grow, we experience, we develop and we learn more about what and who others are before we spend more time in learning and understanding who we are.  We forget how fabulous and fierce we are.  Then, we come into seasons, opportunities, and (I swear I’m not ba-hum-bugging here) hype opportunities that call us to think of the “new me”…like New Year’s instead of focusing on the “now me” and how the me today can serve the ever unfolding you of tomorrow, the next day, the day after that….etc, etc.

And here we are in 2018!!!!!!!!!  I am SO EXCITED!  I just have this feeling in my gut, in deepest area of knowing, that something big, magnificent, unreal is already unfolding.  If you’re struggling to set a resolution or two (YASSSSS:), I’d like you to join me in just making a simple commitment to embracing you, just as you are, all day, every day…..and in doing so, seeing what unfolds!  I think it’s going to be remarkable.  And if you have already set a resolution or two, no, you’re not excluded.  In fact, I really believe this will help!

Embrace! What does this look like?  What will it involve?  What do you need to do?  Well, it’s actually pretty simple….just requiring a little bit of practice until it becomes habit and then is just part of who you are.  Simply put, make it a daily practice of embracing the whole you, just as you are, understanding that while not perfect, works in progress are actually more productive, alluring, attractive, resonating and inspiring than what we might consider to be perfect.  And because practice results in progression, we’ve got to go beyond just setting this intention of embracing the whole you to defining how you will practice this.  

It could be as simple as waking up every day and saying out loud I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  You might wear a piece of jewelry  or another accessory that reminds you of how fabulously fierce you are because of the story behind it.  You might end your day by writing in your journal one significant moment in your day where you showed up courageously and even impressed yourself!  Whatever it is that will remind you that you don’t just need the date to be January 1 to set a new intention for a new you, but can take every day as an opportunity to embrace the you that you are and are continuously beautifully unfolding, do it, do it, do it!  In my mind, that’s worth a daily toast that’s usually reserved for Jan 1 stroke of midnight.  With that, CHEERS to you and continuously unfolding into the fabulously fierce you of today, the here and now, and all of your days to come!

 

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Sometimes, going solo is more about gaining more in the deep than just going alone….

As human beings, we need each other. Beyond just what we experience emotionally,, scientifically speaking, it’s actually been proven that lack of social connections can have consequences on our health and life experiences.  Scientist Matthew Lieberman once shared “different cultures have different beliefs about how important social connection and interdependence are to our lives.  We are not meant to live this life alone and go along as if there is no one else in the world.  We need each other.”

All of this being said, there are parts of our journey that we have to embrace going solo.  My friend Megan has this daily ritual of walking the beach in the morning.  What a peaceful way to start the day, right?  She does this solo.  No one goes with her (though, she’ll keep me honest as I think the dogs may join her from time to time :).  It’s her time.  And she downloads so much during that time, much that she then also shares, vulnerably and bravely with others.  I think I can safely say and get your agreement in the truth that she wouldn’t gain as much in the way of insight and reflection if she opted to just follow-the hustle and bustle of everyday living just because that’s how we’re “supposed” to live…especially true Northeasterners.  Megan demonstrates the understanding of sometimes needing to walk alone.  

 

Albert Einstein once said, “The woman who follows the crowd will go no further than the crowd.  The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.”  I don’t know about you but I really do want to find myself in new places, and if that requires going some parts solo, I’m game….heck I’m in it 🙂 What this really boils down to is embracing the balance of our need for others and our need that alone time that yields

  • Insight, defined as the capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing….that person being you and/or things being your circumstances and the situations you’re currently facing,.
  • Depth of self-awareness.  There is something to be said about learning more about who you are when you’re rolling solo…even if it’s just for a bit.  Some folks find it strange that I actually enjoy my annual trip abroad by myself.  I love my travel buddies and we always have a blast wherever we go, but for my solo trip, I consistently learn something more and am able to go deeper into who Farah is and what she is continuing to become!
  • Enhanced elevation through experience.  The more we live this life, if we’re conscious, I believe the more we learn to get above the fray, especially in times when we get to explore on our own.  We just get to become better observers, understanding that we are actually less and less at the affect of things and the actions of other people and as a result can choose to rise above the day to day nuances that can challenge us in different ways that may not be productive.
  • Activation.  There’s always more or renewed motivation experienced during these times that really affords us the opportunity to take action on the insights gained.
  • Self-Reflection.  These days there is more and more at our disposal in the way of resources to leverage in our mindfulness practices and efforts to become more conscious and self-aware.  Our solo time affords us the self-reflection to heighten both

So, why this conversation (yes, in my head we’re actually talking 🙂  now?  Every year, when we pray at the Christmas dinner table, no matter who says the prayer, we always remember to think of those who don’t have the good fortune of family and friends to be with during the holidays and just ask that they experience the grace and favor we do in some form or fashion.  On the flip side,, I also always remember the coaching conversations I’ve had the week prior to the kick off of the holidays, especially with those preparing to spend the holidays with inlaws, focusing on “how to make it through.”  It’s funny right?  Same coin, different experiences, both benefiting from leveraging or making some solo time.  

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, embrace it all.  If you find yourself rolling solo, embrace the freedom you have to just focus on you, your needs, your wants,  and where you’d like to be.  If you find yourself with a jam pack family- and friend-filled holiday break, make sure to create your own ritual for some alone time to just think, focus, and prioritize you, even if just for a few minutes a day. The yield is well worth it!

What if we all just….

operated with each other with just a little bit of grace?  

Can you picture it?  It’s actually a bit tough, isn’t it?  

I believe part of the difficulty is the consequence of the fact that we don’t actually see and experience this on the day to day as much as we’d like….quite frankly as we should.

Well, by now you know I’m someone who just appreciates level-setting with definition.  So, what does grace actually mean?  Quite a bit if we really do a deep dive around it.  When it comes to operating with each other though, it’s actually pretty simple.  See, the definition I like is the following:

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In the whirlwind that is our day-to-day, we don’t always experience the love, kindness or goodwill that would most favorably define our interactions with one another. So far today, how many have approached you in love, kindness or goodwill?  On the flip side, also consider that in our hustle bustle daily experiences and focus on me, myself, and I (let’s be honest here), we don’t always maintain a disposition to benefit or serve another with intention, actually exercising grace.  It may happen because we’re just good people and we know how to be nice and not intentionally be malicious.  But, what if we set the intention of loving, showing kindness, compassion and mercy, seeking to benefit those who interact with us?

Here’s what I am finding to be more and more true, amongst other things, as life continues to progress: It’s downright friggin hard!  It just is!  Life is a constant series of opportunities to grow, develop and progress which is fabulous, but is definitely does not come without challenge.  It’s just not easy.  And to top it off, you know what makes it even harder….harder than it has to be?  Us!!!!!  Yes, sometimes unknowingly and again even though without malintent, we make life tougher for each other!

Moment of transparency: these past two weeks have been ridiculously tough for me.  

People say things (you would gasp if I shared just a few comments made to me)….

People do things (I’d have to help you pick your jaw up off the floor)….

People fail to say things (ya know, like a simple thank you)….

People fail to do things (yeah like things they said they would do)…

It all just makes the things that are hard even harder.  

But what if instead of just moving day in and day out, just moving with the flow of things, we chose to show up with love?  

What if we actually set a daily intention of just being kind?  

How can we actively demonstrate compassion, mercy and favor to each other?

What if we just maintained and sought, daily, to elevate a disposition of benefit and service to one another?

What if we just operated with a little more grace to with each other?  It takes the act of exercising, but what if?

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Now, can you see it?  Now, won’t you do it?  Often times, living fabulously fierce is more about empowering others while balancing the elevation and progression of self.  To living fabulously fierce….with grace!

“Thank you, for saying what we white women in the room needed to hear…really, thank you.”

I spent that past weekend in Denver, Colorado with the group of Emerging Women that the fabulously fierce Chantal Pierrat pulled together for the fifth time…..and it was AMAZING!  I am so grateful to have been included again this year.  When someone trusts you with their platform, that is nothing short of a great compliment and a major responsibility, not to be taken lightly!  I had the honor of being on a panel, moderated by Chantal and serve as a coach for a few attendees during the coaching corner!  My heart is so full….can’t even begin to tell you!

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The panel, titled The Future of Business: Creating Cultures where Women (and Men!) Thrive, focused on a number of different priorities, primarily honing in on the role of corporations in the day-to-day lives of their employees.  As it relates to diversity and inclusion, we just got real about what underrepresented groups experience or don’t get to experience depending on an organization’s culture, as well as the additional taxes some of us, yes, especially minorities, have to manage and the extra work of carrying the mantel of diversity and inclusion, educating others, being and enhancing our own cultural dexterity as well as that of others.  One message I really tried to drive home is that we individually, “those who actually have power to change the culture must play our part, especially when we see minorities carrying the load of this on their own.”

See, here’s the thing, we’ve been moving into reemphasizing the women’s agenda which is absolutely, so unquestionably critical to the brighter future we are all so desperately in need of.  This is the catch though, we have to remember that within the group, within the broad demographic of women, we must acknowledge and remember that those of us who have been historically and continue to be underrepresented, your brown and black sisters especially, have yet to have our demographic prioritized.  Additionally, when we try to advocate for ourselves on our own without the broad demographic support….we’re not only bossy, we’re aggressive….we’re not only aggressive, we’re angry…we’re not only angry….and I could continue but ultimately we are then alienated, isolated, discounted further, isolated, and there continues the cycle of just even trying to be seen and heard let alone, get a seat at the table in order to lean in and hopefully be heard.

So what?  So, now it’s time to just agree that we are all light in this world and we need to stop focusing on how much our individual illumination may be diminished by this circumstance and that.  Focusing in on how we’re impacted individually and how we can individually come together, collectively, with our own individualistic agendas is actually more limiting than we realize or are willing to accept.  We must hone in on the truth that we actually must opt to put our lights together, creating a fire we can leverage to turn this world right-side up!!!  Then, no one has to wait for their turn, for their agenda, their priorities and concerns to be the priorities and concerns of the others because in the end, aren’t we all one?

To the woman who thanked me “for saying what we white women in the room needed to hear”, I so wish I got your name, but thank you (and I will always remember that gentle smile)!  Thank you for accepting my boldness even when you didn’t know that sometimes it’s really hard to push yourself beyond the invitation and just take a seat to raise your voice.  Thank you for not letting the discomfort of the truth position you to shrink back and just sit and reflect or just think about it.  Thank you for seeing me, for recognizing that you are me and I am you and we, we got this!

To all of us, this week, be bold enough to speak your truth.  Encourage someone else to speak their truth.  Push past your own discomfort. Welcome, embrace, let go of your flickering flame and contribute to the fire!  It’s rising time and there’s no luxury of any of us turning back now.  Let this be your march of the moment!

Standing Out

I know it’s pretty tough but it looks like it is actually getting harder and harder for young girls to feel like it is absolutely ok to be different, to be unique to not follow the crowd, to be themselves, embracing authenticity.  I recently did another workshop for a group of thirteen- to fifteen-year-old girls  and they were absolutely fabulous!  I mean, they were on point with everything and just downright fierce!  The group of 17 showed up so confidently and they also showed up as one collective, supportive unit.  They had a great day together, laughing, playing, joking, encouraging each other and really absorbing all that there was to discuss and take in.

At the end of the day, I asked “so after today, what will be the biggest challenge for you in keeping your promise to yourself and each other to just be you, no matter what?”  One brave soul raised her hand and said,

“well, I like me…I love me…and I know I’m good, you know like I’m pretty cool.  But I’m different….I’m just really different….we’re all different from each other, and most of the people at school.  What’s hard is just being different because people notice you….and it can make you feel a little uncomfortable.”  

Then the entire group said, in unison,

“really uncomfortable.”  

Ugh, I just looked at all their beautiful faces and thought to myself, different group, different times, same bottom line challenge.  Being different is hard!  And we still have so much work to do in facilitating appreciation of differences.  I mean, I can’t think of one person who hasn’t looked through their Facebook feed even just over the past week alone and not realized that we, the adults, grown folks, even lose our minds when different perspectives arise.  How can we expect our young, up and coming women to operate any differently?

Dr. Seuss said it so simply

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”  

Great question but man oh man can it be hard sometimes….often times.  So what do we do about this? Action plan for the week:

    • Accept that it can be hard.  It just is.  Fact.  So accept that it is.  The moved into reflection, thinking about all the hard things that you’ve done in life, despite the fact that they were difficult.  What’s the gain?!?!?  LOTS!!!
    • Accept that though being different may be hard for you, it may be even harder for others, those who just don’t embrace your differences….and that’s really just not your problem…so keep it moving.  Imagine the loss to the world, your circle and those with whom you interact if you didn’t allow yourself to stand out?, prioritizing others’ comfort around you over your own unique value?  What a loss…..
    • Decide how you will stand out.  For some of us it’s our hair, our shape, our skin color, our personality, a whole slew of things.  Decide what your “stand out” factor(s) is/are and decide what you think of it before anyone else does and walk in it!  

 

  • Strut in it.  Slay in it!!!!  Stand out!