Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #40-Living Life to the Fullest II

There has been so much going on for me as of late, more than I’ve ever imagined, and I am totally overwhelmed with it all, in the most positive way possible! I have wanted to share so much and actually have too many drafts of LFF Factor #40 to count and it’s all because I’ve tried to capture my next “soundbite” as perfectly as possible. What I’ve learned in the drafting process is that sometimes, it just takes a bit of rambling to get out the message we intend, and it usually results in an even greater impact than we could have hoped. So, let’s just dive into living life to the fullest.

I think the first time I was cognizant of this message that we are all familiar with was in high school. For whatever reason, I just remember so many of the adults in my life at the time stressing the importance of seizing opportunities, living in each moment, appreciating the season…living life to the fullest. I can’t honestly say that I did anything different than what I would do, but I do remember being on highs all the time. The highs of

  • connecting with people
  • experiencing new things
  • always feeling out of my comfort zone but being motivated by that, and
  • daydreaming like mad about what was next!

So as I reflect back and simultaneously look at all that is in the here in now, many years after being that high school kid, I realize that that is really what living life to the fullest is all about…..

  1. Connecting with people: Anyone who knows me knows that I would literally talk to the wall if the wall would talk back. I’m a story seeker. I love learning about others’ experiences and hearing what their interests are. I often picture our lives as movie scenes interwoven through unexpected connections. I love it! It adds a lot of flavor to life and I wouldn’t change it for the world! So, consider how you connect with folks. No, I’m not saying you need to make friends with everyone who crosses your path, but I have found that just listening to any piece of someone else’s story that they’re willing to share and sharing what I’m comfortable sharing has always improved a moment, a day, a week….life.
  2. Experiencing new things: Man oh man has 2014 already shown me the benefit of this point. So far, I’ve spoken to three new audiences that I would never have imagined being able to, set the goal of just auditioning for a fabulous play and then actually got the role that I auditioned for, and then was in the play (still baffled and truly grateful), and just this past Friday, I did a 5k with my friend Alesha. Sometimes, I seriously sit back and think “Farah, seriously, you’re doing this?” And then, I’m totally stunned by what I’ve done that I never even thought of doing. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “everything that is now possible was once thought impossible.” This has been enough motivation for me since my AP History Class with Mrs. Joseph junior year at Fontbonne Academy when I first came across this quote to be open to experiencing new things. This year has just been a more continuous revelation of that. So, what new things are you going to let yourself at least consider today?
  3. Stepping out of your comfort zone and being motivated by this: On some level this is a bit sick. I was just recounting to one of my peers at work that the reason that I took the job that I’m in now was because it actually scared the mess out of me. I’ve never operated in the space in which I’m in now and never had as high a level of accountability in such a senior role both locally and nationally. I “knew” that I didn’t have expertise to bring to the role but I also knew that that would be enough for me to be as driven and motivated to excel in it. The yielded results are beyond what I could have ever imagined. As I’m now getting comfortable, I know it’s time to start finding ways to get uncomfortable to maintain that drive. What’s your comfort zone? How are you going to get out of it and be motivated in the process.
  4. Daydreaming like mad: I have learned and experienced the power of visioning. Last year I was really diligent about taking golf lessons and one of the things I remember the most was how the coach would tell me to “take a practice swing every time, not just to practice but to picture the ball going exactly where you want it to go.” Every time I did that, the ball always went exactly where I wanted it to go….exactly!!! At the same time, I’m also seeing being in the role I’m in now as the result of daydreaming about being as successful as Claire Huxtable when I was eight years old…..about being on a stage when I was ten years old, even though I had to quit dancing because we just didn’t have the money to continue lessons, I just kept daydreaming about the stage, envisioning myself on it again…..about getting fit and focusing on being healthy and starting to get involved in more fitness-related activities even when I was the most out of shape in high school and not as involved in sports as I had been previously. And lo and behold 2014. Just yesterday I was coaching a client, “Rachel”, and she has had a goal of getting back into shape and being healthy. We didn’t start with what she would do today to start to get back on track. We started with “imagine what “Rachel” May 2015 looks like. Tell me about it.” As she started to daydream out loud, we acknowledged how much she liked that picture and she committed to that. Then we stepped back to determine today’s next step toward that. She’s taking her practice swings and I have no doubt her “ball” is going to land exactly where it needs to and I’m so excited about it. I belabor this particular point because I have experienced the power of it. So, what are you giving yourself the opportunity to daydream about?

I’d love to hear what you’ve got to share so much so that I’m still on a high from all the complimentary sessions I did last week that I’m offering one 30-minute complimentary session to the first person*to comment on any one of the four points that they’re going to commit to. Let me hear you!

Soundtrack of the Week: This was such a popular song during my high school years that it seems most appropriate here. Enjoy Green Day’s Time of Your Life

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Bernier Brand Building: Phase 2-Self Definition

Hope you’re enjoying this branding journey as much as I am.  I’ve been giving you quite a bit of “homework” and a number of you have let me know that’s it’s really helpful, so what choice do I have but to give you more!?!?!?  I kid, I kid…

So I trust that you’ve requested your feedback and as I’m still waiting for a few folks to get back to me, you’re probably waiting too.  I say for now, go with what you have.  A few of you have asked me to share more about myself on this platform, so, while I don’t find that to be the easiest thing for me, you know, talking about myself, I can appreciate that you want to know more about this F Bernier telling you to do this and do that.  So in true transparency, I’m going to share the feedback that I’ve gotten from my circle…the good, the not so good, and the ‘fine, I can take that’ feedback.

Below are the questions I suggested you go out with and the responses that I’ve got so far:

  • If you could only describe me in three words, what would those three words be?

                    §  Hardworking, Ambitious, Resilient

                    §  Determined, Smart, Focused 

  • What would you say is the absolute best thing about me?

                    §  You are such a great friend!  Always there when I need you 🙂

                    §  Your ability to balance (God, Family, Personal Goals and work)

  • What is the one characteristic about me that could be eliminated or improved?

                    §  Over-extending yourself/Over-booking yourself.  Sometimes it’s ok to just sit around and do nothing and not think.

                    §  You are already working on this- taking time for you 😀

  • What truly makes me unique from your perspective?
    • You are one of the most determined people I know.  You try to look at the bright side of everything so you don’t let anything stop you from achieving your goals. 
    • Your ability to see light/good/potential in others and to help guide them to see potential in themselves. You are not scared to call out someone who is living below excellence.
  • What do you think keeps me from being my very best?
    • Over-analyzing things (ahem, relationships).  Sometimes “it is what it is”.  It’s ok to follow your heart and gut even though sometimes they just don’t make sense especially when it comes to the matters of the heart.
    • I think you are striving and growing and therefore you are not kept from being your best.

Sooooo, yup that’s a little bit of me from my friends’ lens.  So grateful that I could give them extra homework and they actually did it!!!  Thanks KitKat and Erika!  As I get additional feedback, I’ll be sure to share.

The combination of this feedback and our answers to the first set of questions I shared with you…you know, the ‘Who am I’ questions, create a great start to just learning more about ourselves. See, now you have your own view and the view of others.  Honestly, the consistency across the board from my friends telling me to take more time for myself is very clear that, although I almost lost my mind two weekends ago because I had two full weekend days of absolutely nothing on the agenda,  I could benefit from doing more of that and just relaxing or not thinking…..it’s actually recharge time!  Feedback heard, received, and ready to apply.

Now moving into the assessments, I encouraged everyone to start with the Strengths Finder 2.0.  Where did I land with my Top 5 Themes?  So glad you asked!  Here goes:

  • Relator (Shocker!)
  • Individualization
  • Strategic
  • Ideation
  • Intellection

So spot on! I won’t dig too deeply into all of the points, but my top theme, Relator, points out that I

Enjoy close relationships with others, find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal, am driven by my talents, have people usually turn to me for plainspoken, easy-to-understand explanations, welcome opportunities to spend time with friends who enjoy thinking about the future…”

So check out that description and go back to my friends’ feedback….see the alignment? I totally can’t deny any of it right?  This is so important because having all of this information helps me understand how I can bring who I cam to everything that I do and be the most effective in my life, both personally and professionally.  Now I’m really ready to engage in some self-definition.

Self-Definition

Don’t worry, I’m not going to over do it.  As I promised in the beginning.  I want us to take this proces slow so that we really do the full exercise of becoming and being our best.

Self-Definition is really all about taking everyhting you’ve just gone through, the self relfection, the review of your feedback and whatever skills insight you got through whichever assessment(s) you used and starting to determine how you want to show up and who you want to be.  This is not about building facades as someone once misinterpreted my passion around personal branding.  This is all about what part or parts of yourself you want to exude, consistently in the interactions you have with folks.  Remember, personal branding is all about building a reputation.  What is the reputation you want to build and how do you leverage what you’ve just learned about yourself to define that repuation and essentially define who you are.

So, to complete this process, we’re going to do a vision exercise.  Imagine: You’ve been nominated and selected by your friends and family to speak at your High School as an alum.  Graduation is two weeks away and the school administration has asked that you submit a bio that will be included in the commencement program and used to introduce you right before you speak.  DO NOT write this as you stand today.  DO write this to reflect the reputation that you want communicated.  For clarification purposes, I’ll share that I am currently coaching an Executive Assistant on her personal brand and she keeps identifying herself as “just an EA.”  So I’ve asked her to start practicing her intro as she’d like it to be and we will, over time, bring that reputation to life.  This week, just write the reputation through this exerise, and we’ll go from there.

Soundtrack of the week: I believe it was Malcolm X who said that “Man only swears when he doesn’t have the vocabulary to express himself.”  While I agree with this, I have to appreciate Jill Scott’s Womanifesto as in this song she is totally going through self-definition and I love it.  My apologies if it offends, but if you can appreciate the exercise, I think this is a great soundtrack for the week!  Enjoy!

Bernier Brand Building: Phase 1-Self Discovery (Continued)

Hello Hello!!!

I hope you’ve all been doing well!  I gave you a little extra time to answer the questions I listed for you in the last post.  At this point, you’ve gotten closer to the answer to the question “Who Am I?”.  I trust that you’ve done some inward digging to better understand who you are, where you come from, what makes you tick, what makes you sick, and glimpses of what makes you fabulously fierce.  So now, it’s time to delve into part two of the self-discovery phase: Leveraging people and tools to identify key components of who you are.

I actually started to do a little bit of this, this week, with the team of the UK’s Unleash, with members in their UK and Barcelona offices.  It was amazing.  Honestly, watching folks go through this process is totally my high.  So, I’m absolutely looking forward to you doing the same!

Jumping right in…

Leveraging People:

When I talk about this, what I mean is really going out and getting feedback from those in your circle.  I never get tired of highlighting my circle…let me tell you, I’ve got some pretty amazing individuals in my life who will always tell me when I’m doing well, when  I’m not doing so hot, and when I absolutely need to get my act together and get back on the fabulously fierce track!  Love them love them love them love them love them.  Yup, if I’m ever messing up, just reach out to the Aundrea Cline-Thomases and the Veronica Chapmans of my world, just to name a couple,let them know, and they’ll get on me.

Believe it or not, you’ve got your own Aundreas and Veronicas in your life.  They may not be as bold to give you feedback, even when you’re not asking for it, like these two, but you’ve got them.  What you may need to do is reach out and give them permission to give you feedback.  What do I mean?  Well, it’s really simple.  Just go out, let them know you’re actively working on your brand, investing the time and energy in yourself in this way and you need their help…their candid, open, honest help.  Then, just ask:

  • If you could only describe me in three words, what would those three words be?
  • What would you say is the absolute best thing about me?
  • What is the one characteristic about me that could be eliminated or improved?
  • What truly makes me unique from your perspective?
  • What do you think keeps me from being my very best?

Yup, seriously, go out and get it. AND DO ONLY THAT.  DO NOT:

  • React positively or negatively
  • Ask any probing questions…not yet.

This will help you avoid the chance that you might roll your eyes, suck your teeth, or give the head roll in response to any feedback your don’t necessarily agree with.  C’mon, you know how some of us can get.

Then, while your friends, coworkers, mentors, your mom (only ask her if she’s like mine and will totally tell you the truth, not just say “oh baby you’re perfect the way you are”) your siblings, your boo…etc, are pulling their thoughts together for you, I need you to dig deeper into your own personal skills and capabilities leveraging some assessments.

Leveraging Assessments:

Some folks get leary of assessments or just freak out because they think it’s about exposing things in them.  To that I put forth a REMINDER: in this phase you’re just focusing in on increasing your self-awareness….assessments help do that.

In the world of assessments and inventories, there really are so many that you can take that are credible.  The most commonly used one is the Myers-Briggs indicator which just highlights how you see the world.  In addition to this one, I’ve also taken the Whole Brain, True Colors, DiSC and Strengths Finder Assessments.  I’ve been fortunate enough to work for various organizations that covered the cost of these.  While I always encourage personal investment, I always support doing so strategically..ie finding ways to avoid having to pay directly out of pocket.  That being said there are enough assessments out there that won’t cost you too much and are still quite valuable.  So, I’m going to ask that you go out and pick up the book, Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  It includes a unique access code for you to take the Strengths Finder 2.0 Assessment and gives you access to the website where you can dig deeper into understanding what your resulting strengths say about you.  Do it, do it, do it.  When we come back to this, I’ll share mine….I’d love it if you’d share yours and then we’ll move into how we can leverage the feedback you get from your circle and the results of your assessment to start the second phase of self-definition.

Since we’re all in the process of just getting better and better and watching things get, as my Pastor would say, “gooder and gooder,” I hope you know that truly your best days are ahead of you.  So with that, this week’s soundtrack is Tamela Mann’s Best Days, which also happens to be the adopted theme song of Living Fabulously Fierce!  Enjoy!

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #19-Keeping Your Faith without Fear

CAUTION: Spiritual content ahead.  Brace for blessing and impact!

Happy Easter!!!  I hope your Resurrection Sunday has gotten off to fabulous start!  Easter happens to be my favorite holiday for many reasons but the most important being it is a reminder, for me, of the importance of faith.

I identify faith as it is defined in Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Someone recently asked me how do I stay so hopeful and happy about everything when I don’t have everything I would like in my life.  I quickly added, “yet…..I don’t have it all, yet,” and explained that I really do believe that what I am seeking and aspire for is in line with what God has for me and as a result, it’s just a matter of time before it comes to pass.  That being said, I do have a confidence in what I hope for, an assurance in what I do not see.  This is what it means to have faith without fear.  Essentially, I have a vision, am definitely a praying woman who seeks wisdom in everything, and I don’t let circumstances or changing life seasons determine my level of faith in the vision that I have.  Simply put, there is so much good that I what to do in this world- sooooooooooooooooo much-and my vision incorporates so much that in order for me not to focus on current limitations, I have to pray and seek the wisdom needed to take the right steps toward this vision.  Most importantly though, I’ve got to maintain a confidence in the things that I hope for that is not stirred by wind (challenges), rain (moments of frustration), or any distracting “noise” (those to my left and my right who may not be able to see what I see and therefore not be able to support, and actually detract, unintentionally or otherwise).

That being said, my hope for you today is that you will

1-Take the time to consider your vision.

If you’ve been with me since the vision board exercise early on, (LFF#2) go back to that.  Remember how I stressed just laying things out not worrying about what might not “make sense”?

  • What were you able to depict for yourself as a result of taking the limits off of your own thinking?
  • Have things changed?
  • If you’ve minimized your vision, why?

If you haven’t laid out your vision, ok I’m going to be a little tough here…chop chop! If you’ve expanded your vision, fabulous!

2-Seek the wisdom to determine what next steps are needed to get closer to realizing your vision.

Be open to the fact that wisdom may actually require that you sit still for a bit.  This is the place in which I currently am, and am actually baffled.  See, we live in a society in which we’re taught that to “get, get, get we’ve got to do, do, do” and often times this only results in a whirlwind/hamster wheel effect.  You know, going around in circles and not making any progress whatsoever.  Sometimes, to make progress, we really may need to just sit still or keep moving, but just a bit slower than we’d like, all for the purpose of making sure any moves are actually in the right direction.

3-Maintain your faith without fear.

I’m a big believer that life is all about seasons.  There’s an old adage that if you’re going through something right now, know that you’re just a breath away from coming out of it…and if you haven’t gone through something, brace yourself because you’re going to need your strength as you’ll more than likely be going through something of your own very shortly.  C’est la vie.  That being said, maintaining your faith without fear and with strength requires that you maintain a “seasons perspective” while also maintaining a level of faith that is not shifted by the ups and downs of the life.

Happy Easter folks!  Get your vision on! Maintain your faith!  Let go of fear!

Sound track of the week: Mary Mary’s I Just Can’t Give Up Now

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #18-Surrounding Yourself with Good Company

Of all the things that may change in life, a few key things remain the same, including the fact that some days are easy and some are hard, but with good company, it can all be pretty fabulous!

When it comes to good company, I am truly blessed beyond measure!  I’ve got some pretty remarkable people in my life that I truly count as blessings, gifts really, because I never once asked for them and here they all are, playing a role in Farah Inc.  That being said, there are a few key things that are common of those I keep company with that I think are pretty important for all of us.  These include,

1-We’re friends, not because we’re perfect, but indeed in spite of our imperfections.

Not a single one of us is perfect in any way, shape or form.  We’re just right, the way that we are, in whatever season that we’re in, always growing and developing.  But perfect, nope, not one of us.  True friends are those who can look at you and appreciate all that you are and all that you’re becoming with a love for you despite the fact that they know you’ll never be perfect, whatever that may mean anyway.

2-We have real expectations of each other. 

My friend Ivy and I were chatting once about some of the “interesting” people that we come across in this life.

Ivy and I with Zo! from Foreign Exchange

Ivy and I with Zo! from Foreign Exchange

And when I say interesting, I mean….you know…hmmm, how do I say this…well, the folks who if someone gave you the option of either hanging out with for five minutes or running a marathon on a blistering hot day, well you’d go and get your sneakers and start running.  And know that all of us are that “interesting” person for at least one person in this world at one point or another.  It’s all good.  Anyway, I digress…Ivy and I were chatting about one of her “interestings” and she said, “I knew we really couldn’t be friends because she just had absolutely no expectations of me.”  What this was really all about was the fact that this individual did not hold Ivy accountable to be the best Ivy she could be.  She and I on the other hand, however, we have “best-self” expectations of each other and really won’t let the other slip too far from meeting that expectation.

3-We know when to heavy-handed and when to be heavy-hearted, maintaining a balance of both.  

Sometimes, I really have a hard time with this one because don’t we all just want a hug or someone to tell us, “everything’s going to be ok” or “oh, you’ll be alright, you’ll be fine”?  As much of a tough cookie as I can be, sometimes, I really want 90% heavy-hearted and 10% heavy-handed and all I get is the exact opposite…because that’s actually just what I need and fortunately my friends often know better than me.  I will definitely say no one in the Farah Bernier Circle will ever baby her.  What I am grateful for though is that I am never at a loss of the needed “I need you to get your act together” or the needed “I’m so sorry, I’ll bring over some dessert and we’ll cry this one out or just watch a good movie.”

4-Through it all is love

Speaking of good movies, I recently saw Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself again

and at one point Mary J. Blige’s character sings

“I don’t need no one to put me down, I’m on the ground can’t get no lower. And I don’t need no one to hang around an make me frown…”

I think this points to the fact that the best thing for all of us from the company we keep is love. This makes me think of Job, let me tell you, if I’m ever where he was, I’m pretty certain I don’t need anyone in my crew like the friends he had.  They didn’t show him love.  It was really all about pity and the perspective that he must’ve done something wrong to warrant him going through what he was experiencing.  Job needed love and he didn’t get as much as he needed.  Again, grateful that even if they needed to give me a swift kick in the pants, no matter what, it would be in love.

This week, I’m actually going to write, yes actually write a few cards to those in my company just to let them know they’re appreciated and that when it comes right down to it, although I am soooo not a mushy person, yup, I love them.

So, as for you, are you keeping good company? Do the folks in your circle add,
encourage, enlarge your territory, love and have expectations of you? Do they have the same expectation of you and how are you measuring up to that expectation?  Are you sowing into their lives as they are yours?  Answer these questions, just for you.  Finally, this week, in whatever way you choose, reach out to at least three people in your circle with a simple “Hey, you’re pretty fabulous and I’m grateful for you.”

Soundtrack of the week: Mary J. Blige’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #17-Never Wilting Under Mischaracterization

“If you know who you are, then what somebody calls you is just so irrelevant…  If I wilted every time somebody in my life mischaracterized me or called me a bad name, I never would have accomplished all that I have to date.  You know who you are, so whatever anybody else says is just interesting fodder.” ~Michelle Obama, 2008 Essence Interview

 Michelle-Obama4-e1346784851462

I could just stop right there, huh?  How fabulous is she?!?!

Jumping right in, I’m pretty sure all of us have heard some things about ourselves from others that took us by surprise.  I know I definitely have.  Fortunately, 99% of the folks in my life are those who I can truly have a heart to heart with when things like this come up and what it usually boils down to is almost always misunderstanding.  This really takes a good level of self-assuredness and confidence.  It’s often so much easier to just sit in hurt over what others say about us, especially when it comes to the situations in which it’s the 1% who are actually just talking to talk….it happens.  It takes strength not to wilt and stay focused on what you know about who you are.

So, by now you’ve probably guessed it.  The most critical aspect to not wilting under mischaracterization knowing thyself.  This week we’re going to focus on a few self-reflective questions around this.  Get the journals out folks.

21_journal_and_coffee

1-What two most valuable truths do you truly know about you, that no one can every persuade you otherwise on?

2-What about yourself are you most sensitive about?

3-How do you usually most productively get over hurt?

4-Who is your ace-someone (s) you can go to and totally pour out without any fear of judgment or any other potential consequence.

Because I’m all about modeling the behavior I expect of others…here goes…

1-First, every day I am focused on being the very best me that I can be and living a life that is honorable based on my Christian values.  Second, I have a heart that extends to others in their pain and genuinely celebrate with them in their joy! (Ummmm, did I mention Dre got an Emmy!!!!! That Dionna is on a cruise with her mom this week!!!! And I’m not ashamed to say that there have been moments that I’ve actually clapped for the Jeopardy winner!!!)

2-Ugh so let me explain this one (already sounds like defense doesn’t it) so, I am totally ok with being single…for now as I do look forward to being in a relationship but trust, I am thoroughly enjoying this season.  HOWEVER, over the past few weeks, too many people have been asking me the question “so why are you single.”  The woman who threads my eyebrows even asked me, “Why you don’t have husband….you don’t like men?”  Really? And….oh if you knew the stories that are getting back to me about why I’m single…from folks who don’t even know me…it’s nuts!!! Kinda funny at times. So yes, as that itty bitty rant shows, today, in this season, that’s what I’m most sensitive about, not because it is my season, but because of others’ assessment of it.

3-The way I most productively get over hurt is to have a conversation with the source of the hurt to make sure that I’m actually seeing whatever the situation is through the same lens as them and understand their intention.  When that doesn’t or can’t happen for whatever reason, my other option…real simple….pray, and move on.

4-No naming names here but I actually have two usual suspects that I go to when I really just need to let it all out.

Whew!  Breathe!

Why is it important to answer these questions, well, when I identify and spell out my most valuable self-truths, starting with just two to get the ball rolling, well, then nothing that comes my way to contradict those truths will get me to move away from these because I know that I know that I know these truths about myself.  The are part of who I am.  If I know my own sensitivities and can get to the root of them to understand what’s behind them, no one can use them against me.  It’s like one of our Partners recently shared, “I know I’m fat, you know I’m fat, can we just move on or do you need to put in another joke to make you feel just as good about you as I do about me regardless of how I look?”  That’s an “in your face” statement if I ever heard one.

For as long as we’re living, we’re going to experience pain and hurt from others.  It’s just reality, but as Rick Warren says, “God never wastes a hurt, but uses it for a purpose in your life and the lives of others.”  That being said, as long as you know how you get through hurt, you’re better prepared to employ that strategy once things come up.  Finally, we all need someone with whom we can be totally transparent, who will know when to hold our hand and cry with us or tell us to get over ourselves, stand up straight, get in line, and keep moving.  To my aces, you know who you are, Thanks!!!  Love ya!!!

Since all of this requires the fighter in all of us to come out, the soundtracks of the week are

“Fighter” by Christina Aguilera and Gym Class Heroes

 

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #14-Living Life to the Fullest

“Death is a tragic thing, only if you haven’t lived.” ~Tyler Perry’s Family That Preys

Ok ladies…

Here we are, month two of 2013 and interestingly enough, it is time to take a little step back and think to the very beginning of the year.  As a reminder, here at LFF we focused on challenging new year’s resolutions with the commitment to being WIPs-Works in Process (check out the 12.30.12 post for a refresher).  Some of you have reached out sharing some of your progress, which is fabulous!  Some have shared some hiccups to the progress, which is natural by the way, and unfortunately, have pulled out of the process.

For instance, someone shared that at the beginning of the year, she made a commitment to taking more time for herself in an effort to gain more balance and because she’s gotten to a place of more financial stability than she’s ever had in the past, she was going to plan monthly, three-day getaways, a quarter at a time. So, she started to plan for Q1 with a January adventure, was distracted and never did it and all of a sudden, it’s not important to start looking into February…HER BIRTHMONTH BY THE WAY!!!!  Yup, totally putting you on blast…you know who you are.  Now I’m being a bit tough but here’s the reality….one month of delay can turn to two, which turns to half a year, another year, and then we’re 25, 35, 45 55 etc talking about the things we thought we were going to do and never did…the goals we wanted to accomplish, and never did….the impact we wanted to have, and never set ourselves up to.  Then ultimately, time lessens its patience with us and we depart, never having lived the life we knew we were purposed to live.

Now, this is going to get a little dark, but stay with me and I promise it’s going to get real good…

A former colleague of mine was the daughter of a very well-to do mortician who shared that she learned very early on that death was just part of life and though loss was always hard to deal with, it was part of the living experience. Unfortunately, a few of those close to me have lost loved ones early in this new year but every single one of them has had a certain peace about their loss like this colleague of mine.  When I think about each of them and their responses when I shared my condolensces, it’s really because they could look back over the life of the individual they’d lost and see that they had truly lived life to the fullest that they were truly ok.

My grandmother passed years ago but her death was as much of an inspiration as her strength, wit, and grace in life.  She definitely knew her time was up and her last words were,

“God has blessed me with a good life, a caring husband who was with me until his last days, three beautiful daughters, six gracious grandchildren, I am satisfied.”

I am satisfied…her last three words inspired a poem I wrote for my mom to help her through the loss as a reflection of what I believe my grandmother would have said to her. I share this to say that when my grandmother passed at 92, she was satisfied and we knew it because she lived her life to the fullest, for her, and so all we could do was celebrate her life…we didn’t fall apart as if her death was tragic, it was an inspiration.

Now, I realize this is a bit heavy and ok a little morbid but the major thing to take away from this is that we have to live our lives to the fullest.  Our departure from this earth is only tragic if we don’t.  So, today, my question to you is what does living life to the fullest mean to you?

Just think about you for a minute. No comparison to anyone else or consideration for what the world would say living life to the fullest is.  What does living life to the fullest mean to you?

Once you’ve identified that, paint the picture through words.  Yes, get to the journal and just pen it out.  List every detail of this full picture for you.

Next, clearly make note of

1. What’s keeping you from that life right now?

2. What’s in your control to limit the impact of these obstacles for you?

3. What will you do this week to begin living that picture for you?

Finally, just do it!!!!  I know I am!!!!

Instead of a soundtrack of the week, let’s go for a video clip.  See, I think Ellen Degeneres went through this process in some form or fashion and determined that part of her living life to the fullest included dancing whenever she felt moved to.  She must’ve pictured what that would look like, and now she gets a full audience to join her in dancing every day she goes to work!  And she didn’t even stop there, she extended her brand to SYTYCD and is now a “dance legend”!  So, if nothing else, go ahead, dance!

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #10: Committing to the WIP Process

Yup, Farah’s Got Her Groove Back…..or just some inspiration!

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve written…a little over a month to be exact.  One thing that many know about me though, is that I don’t just do things to do them.  If I’m going to do anything, anything at all, it’s got to be something that meets a standard of excellence.  That way, I’ll be more confident of it’s potential impact for someone else.  It’s basically the principle of not just showing up to show up, but showing up so that others know you’re there, thereby leaving your mark.

All that to say, I’ve finally gotten some inspiration to get back into the groove here:  Preparing for the closing of Chapter 2012 and the opening of Chapter 2013!

This time of the year is always very interesting to me…the time between Christmas and New Year’s.  Growing up, this was the time we were scrubbing down the house, cleaning every nook and corner, cleaning out closets, getting rid of some of the old, and excitedly getting ready for the new year.  Prayer has always been a major part of our New Year’s celebrations.  I actually can’t think back to a New Year’s that I wasn’t in church.  Of course, as an adult, this all carries over.  So, for the past few days, I’ve been scrubbing down my house, cleaning every nook and corner, cleaning out closets, starting to pray about what I’m expecting for the upcoming season…etc etc etc!  It’s so refreshing given how much of a neat freak I a (yes, I admit it), this whole process has been soooooooo therapeutic for me.

When cleaning, I end up thinking about quite a bit.  Of course I started reflecting on how, in addition to the above mentioned New Year’s preparations, as I got older, the whole bit of New Year’s resolutions came into play.  We all know the standards that we hear or make for ourselves:

  • Lose weight (somehow this is always at the top of the charts)
  • Eat healthier
  • Exercise more
  • Be more financially responsible
  • Spend more time with family

The list could go on and I actually found a Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions List.  After we all make these resolutions, within a month or a little thereafter, I hear from different people about how they’ve given up on some of them…

  • “Girl, I didn’t know what I was thinking.”
  • “Ugh, I started traveling for work and things just got too busy all over again.”
  • “I need a workout buddy to really do this…..”  And they never actually ask anyone…
  • “All these sales, I just got sucked in…again.”

Look what else I found: Top 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions.

Now that you’re probably thinking I’m going the route of “why bother”, let me be very clear: I am all for goal setting, being accomplishments-focused and the like.  What I have learned however, is this whole process of focusing on January 1, 20whatever to set goals of “All the way or no way”…you know “Lose ‘X’lbs or bust” ..is just not productive across the board.  Some of us do work that way and it’s fabulous.  But when it comes to being fabulously fierce, you’ve really got to be one who can look at herself as a WIP-work in process and

  • Appreciate AND celebrate wins as they come
  • Leverage the wins, and even some of the losses, as motivation
  • Focus on the mindset of “ever to excel”

The WIP Factor

In an interview with Vogue, our fabulous First Lady said,

“I never consider myself a finished product.”  Never say never, right?  But here, it’s true and quite critical.  It’s so simple, but it’s such a motivating call.  If I can focus on never considering myself a finished product, my focus then just becomes taking one step at a time to becoming better and better at just being me.  I don’t need to try to be like anyone else, I don’t have to be anything others want or require me to be.  I just have to look at me and know that every rising of the sun is just another opportunity for me to be a better Farah than I was yesterday.

Where I am today, right here, right now, it’s really about me being better about not being so hard on myself.  Truth moment: I’ve probably taken my focus on being smart, successful, trustworthy, healthy, being a good daughter, sister, auntie, friend, best friend, business woman to the extreme of trying to be perfect instead of just being a WIP.  That being said, I know I’m not alone here so it’s time for all of us to accept the process!

Appreciating and Celebrating Wins:

I love my friend Dionna.

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As I’ve mentioned before, those who are closest to me are really the ones who can tell me about myself whether it’s something good, not so good, or if they need to just say, “Farah, I’m really just going to need you to get it together on this” (I won’t name the person being quoted here, but you know who you are).  So, just the other day, D and I were talking, and of course we landed on the “wow, we’re really kinda grownups now” convo.  As I was talking about some of the things that I’m grateful that I’ve been able to do, I actually said of one of my accomplishments, “Now I know anyone could just get up and do this, but…” and she cut me off.  That’s when she said, “actually, that’s what you don’t realize, is um no, not everyone and anyone could just do that.”

This really made me pause.  I actually, in that moment, realized that she was right and yet, I had NEVER, NEVER, NEVER celebrated that win.  It was just part of the game for me, if you will, and I just kept moving.  This was something that happened yeeeeeears ago but has had such a positive impact on my life and I dwindled it down to “just something else I had done” that “yeah anyone can do that”.  Thank God for my friend who had no problem just telling me to shut up for a minute and think about that.

And so, my lesson: I’m going to be doing a whole lot more celebrating moving forward….notice, I didn’t say, this year….I said moving forward….yup, shifting from a 1.1.20xx mentality to a WIP mentality.  I’m not talking about an “everyone gets a trophy/award” mentality and patting myself on the back from every little thing that I do. What I mean is, I’m going to press, what I’m now calling, the “Dionna Pause Button”

as much as I can, and just celebrate my wins so that I don’t miss these opportunities as easily as I have in the past.

Leverage the wins, and even some of the losses, as motivation:

This process of leveraging is all about determining whether to keep the eye on the ball and keep moving, or evaluate if the ball may need a little bit of an adjustment-maybe more air, maybe even a whole new ball-before continuing to play the game.  As human beings, we are all wired to operate under motivation.  It is part of what really fuels or drives us to do the things we do…or don’t do.  So, let’s get a little technical here…

Wikipedia tells us that:

Motivation is the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal and elicits, controls, and sustains certain goal directed behaviors. It can be considered a driving force; a psychological drive that compels or reinforces an action toward a desired goal. Motivation elicits, controls, and sustains certain goal-directed behaviors.

That being said, we’ve always got to stay attuned to what really drives us, what gets us to do the things that we do?  When we figure this all out, we then have to determine if there’s been any change to that driving force for us.  When I first started my career, my motivation was really just “getting to the top”.  I just wanted to climb the corporate ladder, get to the top of it while helping others of course, but that was it.  I even developed my own career plan over the span of 10 years to ensure that I’d get to “the top”.  I wrote that plan, which was really just a checklist when you boiled it down, at 21 and I was on my way.  Now, you can imagine, what motivated me at 21, although not completely gone, has transitioned into so much more these many years later.  The cool thing about that…it’s totally ok and actually more normal that being a super-type A, 21-year old who thinks she can figure out and plan her life on a sheet of paper, all based on only corporate realities.  Thank God I’ve gotten revelation that I can, and actually should be driven by so much more than that.  Hence, Living Fabulously Fierce, my coaching with professional women, and my work with young girls…all in addition to actually being farther up that ladder than I would have thought possible at this point in my life.  How cool is all of that?!?!?!  All because I took the time to evaluate, not only the ball I had in play, but the actual game I was playing.  I had to shift my mindset from corporate success to personal legacy-building which encompasses so much more for me.  Love it!  Even more importantly, especially now with my pause button in play, I will be even more proactive in looking at my wins in different aspects of my life, to continue to build more wins no matter what I’m doing.

And of course we’ve got to be honest…not every action leads to a win.  Along this journey called like, there are definitely a few losses that come into play.  The different between the ordinary and fabulously fierce, though, is that the latter, we look at those losses as opportunities to learn, apply what what we’ve learned, even in the midst of frustration with circumstances or ourselves, and move on!  Leverage, leverage, leverage!

Focus on the mindset of “ever to excel”:

Every Boston College prospect, student and alum knows (or should know) this motto.

images-1It’s actually what led me to determine that BC was definitely the place I needed to be (along with the wonderful scholarship package they offered…let’s just be real).  That motto is a clear call to action no matter who you are, where you are, what you’re doing, how you’re doing, and/or why.  It’s all about keeping things moving.  Focusing on being better than you were and most importantly, not for your own gain, considering yourself, of course, but for the impact of your excellence on others, on the world, whatever role you play.  For the impact of not playing can be greater, in the negative, than contributing, at any level, to impact, in the positive.

Yup, this one was a long one, but the inspiration was in play so I hope you’ve gotten just a little something to spark your transition to being a WIP, never considering yourself a finished product, but always committing to just being better than you were, no matter what.  Cheers!

Soundtrack of the week: Beyonce’s, I Was Here