Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #43: Processing-Accepting “Ugly” to Revel in “Beauty”

This week I came across an Instagram post of one of the fitness accounts I follow that really struck me “

“You have to sweat like a pig and work like a horse to look like a fox.”

I wish I could remember what account it was so I could give cred, but I totally forget. There were a few reasons why this stuck with me including my own challenging efforts with personal fitness goals, goals I have around my career, entrepreneurial endeavors, and just life in general. I really like what this quote is getting at because it actually gives you a slap in the face while simultaneously encouraging you.  This is  what I really take away from it:

Listen, if you want to be fabulous and fierce, you have to accept that the being is actually becoming, becoming is a journey, and not every stage of any journey positions you to look or feel your best all the time…but if you stick with it, the process that is, you’re going to be amazed by the outcome!!!!”

So, this is what I’ve got for you today-a recommitment opportunity. We all have different things that we’ve previously committed to that we started off really well with and then, because it got “ugly” and we weren’t seeing results as quickly as we wanted or we didn’t achieve a goal by the time we determined we would, we just abandoned the process.  For me this has included the process of becoming a runner, going natural (with my hair for those of you that just got lost a bit), losing weight, learning how to golf.  Yup, I’ve got things that I need to go back to.  After three attempts, I did finally go completely natural four years ago.  I’ve had some success with weight loss but have newer goals in that area.  I have tried multiple times to get better at running and this past month, for the first time, even though I really have been ready to quit because it truly is not always cute, I haven’t.  I’m totally committing to the process.  In fact, today, I hit run #31!!!  I’ve NEVER been that consistent with that process….and I’m actually getting better.

So, here’s what I’ve got for you today-a recommitment opportunity….an opportunity for each of us to revisit a process we’ve walked away from in the past or select a new one. Basically pick a goal: Going back to school, losing 10 pounds, doing a workout program…the whole way through, something. Now:

1-Determine the process of reaching your goal: For me, I’m going to stick with my commitment to running.  I’ve determined that for me, I need to be consistent in getting at least four 5ks in per week-basically 3.1 miles.  I’ve actually been doing more than that but that’s the process I’ve identified. What is your determination-your process?

2-Make a commitment however you need to. My commitment making has taken the form of me having the Nike Running app Coach as my “partner” in this process.  And let me tell you, it’s no joke…it really pushes and encourages in a very effective way.  Commitments take different forms.  Sometimes, all it takes is stating what you’re going to do or become.  When I finally decided I would never go back to relaxing my hair…it really was just a simple decision…and let me tell you, as I was figuring things out, not every day was a good hair day.  Other times, all I needed to do was write down my goal in my journal or on a sticky note that I posted somewhere that I would see every day.  As it relates to weight loss/management, I had to commit to only picking up seven different items from the grocery store and doing meal preps on Sundays.  This week, one of my friends actually posted her commitment to her selected process on Facebook.    Whatever it is, you just need to decide how you’re going to actually make the commitment. How will you make your commitment?

3-Accept that there are going to be some “ugly” days. Here, all I mean is that you are not always going to be cute in whatever the process you’re selecting is because the process itself, if it truly is one that is going to lead to transformation, development and growth, is just not going to be cute.  Accept that and know it’s totally ok.  During one of my runs this week, I was totally struggling.  It was just a tough day and I was hoping and praying no one say how I was pretty much dragging my steps during the last mile of the run.  NOT cute.  But, I know there would be days like that before I even started the process and I just accepted it….so I didn’t let that stop me.  I let it propel me toward what I’m headed toward…success in this area. What do you already know may be “ugly” about this process for you? Just put it out there so you know that you already knew it ahead of time and can’t use it as an excuse to quit.

4-Keep the “fox” in mind-the success, the “beauty” of the process. This is all about keeping the vision up front and close…really making it…well, real.  What do I mean by that?  Well, I am n where near being a “runner”, or the runner I want to be, I should say.  But, I’m much closer to it now than I was on day one of the process, and you better believe that every time I head out the door, with every step that hits the pavement, every breath I take to push just a little bit more, I’m envisioning myself at the finish line of some race-sometimes, another 5k, other times, yup, the Boston Marathon.  I know what my “fox” looks like.  What I look like as the “fox”.  In order to be able to get here, I had to think about what all of this was, again, before the activity part of process even began.   What’s your “fox”-The end game?   What do you look like at the end of the process?

5-Get ready, set, go!!!! All that’s left is to mentally prepare, set yourself up for the process, and go forth and conquer.  I had to get new sneakers and a few more workout pieces.  I had to also get the running app.  Then, I just had to get out there and go.  And guess what, that first day, it rained like crazy!!!!!  But I had determined the process, I made a commitment, I had envisioned success…so there was only one thing left to do…so, I did it…I went…and I’m still going!

So, how about you? Do tell.  What process are you going to commit to and begin accepting the “ugly” that may be involved, determining to move forward and keep going until you reach your goal….at least until you reach your goal?

Soundtrack of the week: Because you can’t rely on your momma for this one…and it’s just a really good song, Paramore’s Aint It Fun!

Advertisements

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

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 #20-Making Decisions You Can Live With

Hello Hello My Fellow Fabulously Fierce!

I have had an incredible weekend so I am on an incredible high yet incredibly fatigued!  If only I had the super power of never needing sleep!!!  Ah well.

One of my weekend activities included participating in the Babson College Black Affinity Conference!  It was great!  Friday’s segment involved a great discussion around Black hair.  Gennifer Miller of Healthy Textures, Shariffa Barnett Author of 5 Hair Archetypes, and Dr. Tina Opie who I wish was a professor when I was there, were incredible panelists! The session was slated as a two-hour conversation, which went on for three and it only ended because security had to shut the building down…and couldn’t do so with the 50 or so women in attendance still in the building.  All this being said, this is not a post on Black hair…I’m sure one day soon that will be a topic for us here in some form or fashion, but what everything boiled down to in Friday’s discussion was nothing more than decisions and the ability to make and own your life choices…whether it has to do with hair or, what I’d like to really broaden it to, the various life choices we all have to make.

We’ve spent a lot of time here at LFF addressing the aspect of vision.  Many of you have actually taken my recommendations to illustrate your vision, prayerfully sought the wisdom to know which steps to take, and actually started to take some major steps.  I love hearing from you about what’s new and exciting in your lives in the way of being the fabulously fierce individuals that you are.  This bring me to the point of free will.

When thinking of free will, we can absolutately take it “old school” if you want and in my case, that would be first communion class in the second grade where I learned that God gave us all free will (I still get hung up on Adam and Eve…really, you just had to have that apple?).  Truly, free will is actually power.  Really, pause for one minute and just think about that….try, just try to grasp that The Most Omnipotent Soveriegn Being, The One who made you…in His likeness and image…in the face of wanting you to be every bit like Him, gave you and I the power to decide what we would do in this life and what we would not do!  That’s some serious power given to us.

The thing about power though is whatever we do with it, by way of choice and decision, we actually have to be able to live with the decisions we make as well as the impact.  Now I’ve worked in corporate environments my entire career and I will tell you, a career limiting move I’ve observed in many is consistently failing to just make a decision.  I would submit that people are actually not afraid to make decisions, they are actually afraid to have to deal with any repercussions of the decisions made…even if the impct is good!  Let me clarify with an example: A young woman recently shared with me that she was trying to determine whether or not to apply for an opportunity in an area of business in which she has absolutely no experience.  I NEVER see that as a limitation by the way, but definitely more of an opportunity to highlight a different lens…take a look at my career…half my jobs I’ve really had no business being in if we were going by experience…but I digress.  So, this young lady spent 15 minutes walking me through the ‘what ifs’….you know…

  • What if I apply and I don’t get it?
  • What if they see my resume and think I’m crazy for applying?
  • What if…yada yada yada

All to which I said…”and what if you apply, and it actually works out?”  Her response: “But then I’d have to move and leave all my friends behind” etc etc etc.  See the reality is, she didn’t want to make a decision that might just cause her to have to live with the need to deal with change, and make new friends, and get accustomed to a new city…the list goes on.

Another example?  Sure…and of course this one has to do with a boy 🙂  So, another youg women recently shared that she was in a relationship with a young man who she knew just was not for her.  She waited for months but finally broke it off, very maturely I might add, and let brother man go.  And she is totally ok with her decision.  Totally ok with it.  This doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt and her heart didn’t have to go through the breaking we are all too familiar with.  It just means, she made the decision that she could actually live with.

Here’s the deal, every day we make decisions.  I had the pleasure of meeting an incredible decision maker this weekend in Dr. Tina Opie.  She is a  model of confidence in who she shares who she is, even in just introducing herself, which involves highlighting some life decisions shes’ made.  She left an impression on all who were in her presence that she is totally ok with who she is because she makes decisions that she can live with.  Now does this mean we are not to make mistakes? ABSOLUTELY NOT!  What it does mean is that  because I know who I am, I will make decisions that are best for me, more often than not, positively impacts those around me, and even when I don’t make the “best” decisions, the consequences don’t impact others or myself in a way that is detrimental.  What does this boil down to…branding…personal branding.

So, here’s my assignment for you this week:

Think about what three factors play the most significant role for you in guiding the deicisions you make every day.  For me, mine are that

  • I am a Christian woman guided by Christian principles, the most important, being the love of everyone around me/treating everyone as I would want to be treated
  • I am focused on legacy, seeking to leave a positive impact not only in the world in the future, but in my day-to-day and the people I interact with every day
  • I extend my vision from the here and now and into what I believe will be my future, not limiting my dreams and aspirations by the limitations of my current wallet, status in life, etc

Once you identify your three, post them on your mirror (feel free to share here too via comments) where you can see them every day while brushing your teeth (yes, I just made a decision for you…if you are not brushing your teeth every day…YOU WILL START NOW), and remind yourself every morning that whatever decisions you make, they will be guided by these three important aspects of who you are.

Agan, there will be mistakes, but the decision-making process, leveraging the free will that you have, is a process nonetheless, and so makes it ok.

Soooo, next steps here on LivingFabulouslyFierce is delving into the personal branding space moving forward.  Get ready to be introduced, and for some of you reintroduced, to the Bernier Brand Building process of self-discovery definition and distinction.  Get ready get ready get ready.

Soundtrack of the week: Damita’s, No Looking Back

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 #3-Maintaining Your Ability to Accessorize with Your Smile

The past two weeks have definitely pushed me to learn more about how much I can handle.  There’s just been a lot of work with work, a lot going on with friends, and some of my own personal challenges.  I really can’t say that anything is bad, but it’s a lot of good things, great things, and things that aren’t necessarily bad….just unexpected if you will.  That being said, I’ve definitely been stretched, stressed and had to address some fear and anxiety (yes the fabulously fierce are human and experience these feelings too). Truly though, what doesn’t kill you ABSOLUTELY makes you stronger.

Throughout any challenges though, I really do always try to maintain my composure and focus on being positive…for myself and in managing my personal brand.  It’s just so important to always keep in mind that no matter what you’re going through, you’re always offering up an experience of your brand with others.  Whether you’re having a great day or not, all people remember is how they have experienced you, based on how you show up.  Now some of us wear our emotions on our sleeves and have to do a little more work to show up positively when interacting with others.  For me, and I would submit this is the case with most of us, it all really depends on the day.  Some days, I’m better at not letting things get to me so much that everyone can see I’m just not myself.  On other days (though rare) I don’t really leave much to the imagination in terms of what I’m feeling.

One thing that I think I have working in my favor though is that I am really able to be in the moment, no matter what I’m going through or facing.  If I’m on the train for my morning commute into the office and trying to mentally prepare for the day but the person next to me starts up an interesting conversation….I’m totally there!  If I’ve got a million things to get done with a task list already set up with check boxes for me to build that sense of accomplishment as I work through (if you couldn’t “see” my Type A personality coming through before, well, here you go) but there’s an impromptu get together or “Committee Meeting” called to order (Consuela, Faith, and Veronica know the deal), I’m totally there!  If I’ve just gotten some not so great news but a fabulous song comes on….I’m there, especially if it’s an old jam like MJ’s Smooth Criminal.  Basically, what I’m saying is that, no matter what’s going on, I try to be present in all situations, appreciating whomever I’m with and whatever we’re doing, what is actually happening…not what I “should” be doing, or what’s “supposed” to be happening.  This really helps me appreciate everything so much more, and smile a whole lot more in this world in the face of everything that can go a little crazy around us in this world, or have us feeling like we’re in a constant whirlwind.

So, today, I’m suggesting we all just make an intentional commitment of embracing everything we face….the good and the unexpected with the same accessory…a smile.  Super cheesy, I know, especially as, believe it or not, I’m sooooooooo NOT the mushy mushy type.  The reality, though, is that this really allows us to be present, in the moment, and soak up the best of everything and everyone around us.  So, go ahead….I dare you, just smile.  You just look so much better when you do!  And….against the feedback of my friend, Melissa, I’m inserting one here via an emoticon, just for you 🙂 !

Soundtrack of the day: Kirk Franklin’s I Smile

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #2a: Creating the Vision…Continued

After my last update, a number of you sent thank you emails, sharing how motivated you were to actually put your vision board together.  So, naturally of course, I had to take it to the next level….I actually hosted the very first Living Fabulously Fierce Meet-Up!

A few of us got together and really honed in on our vision with no limitations!  “DJ Lynette” provided the musical inspiration and we let our minds run wild with purpose! Check out a couple of the resulting boards:

As for me and my vision (board)….
Well, I definitely took the limits off.  This exercise absolutely let me run wild with my goals and aspirations and forced me to take up my own ask of you in being true to myself and daring to dream grand. In terms of being true to myself, I have always known that you can never please everyone all the time and if that’s all you’re seeking, it is impossible to be true to you.  Knowing this is one thing, but actually being committed to this frame of mind, living it, is another thing.

What’s really helped me wrap my mind around being true to self is the following quote by Deng Ming-Dao:

“The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.”

If that doesn’t get one to be committed to one’s nature, I honestly don’t know what would?  That being said, some of you have asked to learn more about me.  So here are a few truths about Farah Bernier:
•       African-American Female of Haitian descent
•       Christian
•       Oldest of three
•       Addicted to travel
•       Passion: Supporting the development of young girls, building their self-esteem and confidence                       through coaching and collaboration with fabulously fierce women who’ve influenced my life….

I think that’s enough for now, but feel free to send me a note with any questions you have about me and I’ll post answers as your inquiries come in.  All in all, these are the basic truths about myself that I am committed to staying true to no matter what that entails.  Each of these characteristics about me, and many, many, many others help define me and contribute to who I am no matter what I experience or am involved in.  That being said, I guess my truth statement would be that as an African-American female of Haitian
descent, I am the descendant of those before me who have had various struggles tied to their own identity, yet made significant strides so that I can be where I am today, proud of who I am, motivated by my Christian values, naturally forthright (though some may call it stubborn..and of course they’re wrong 🙂 tendencies as an “oldest” child, with a love of experiencing new cultures and different parts of the world through travel while inspiring others, young girls and women in particular, to be the best they can be in all that they do, through their own self-confidence and positive self-esteem.

Definitely a mouthful but I’ll trust you get my point.  All in all, I’m staying true to me, owning all of it…all of me!

Dreaming Grand!

In terms of taking the scales off the eyes of my imagination and building grand…well, I definitely did!  So, remember how my board began with two vision “paths” that I shared?  As a reminder, here are the two:

1-Farah=Joy==> Good-Looking==>Strong Brand==>Fabulously Fierce==>Admirable Presence==>Public Speaker

2-Farah=Joy==>Light for others==>Christian==>Example of Christ==>Missionary

Well, I took another look and focused on being grand!  So using the first path just as an example, check it out:

Farah=Joy==> Good-Looking==>Strong Brand==>Fabulously Fierce==>Admirable Presence==>Public Speaker==>Speaker at the 2020 Essence Women’s Conference==>Living Fabulously Fierce Talk Show Host!!! (Why not?)

Time to Work:
This exercise actually helped me identify additional interests that I didn’t even realize I had.  I love what I’m doing for work and all the ‘extrawork’ activities that I engage in, but I never really thought about taking what I love to do in my job-speaking, coaching, advising, consulting, developing and facilitating-and focusing in on how to take it to the next level.  Now that I have a defined, tangible end-goal, it’s time to start putting my vision into action.

So I’ve already taken the first step, thanks to the fabulous connection my fierce friend Veronica Chapman, a true jewel, shared with me, and called an agency that sets thought leaders up with speaking engagements.  I’ll focus on local opportunities for the time being, build up to larger audiences, then get to the Essence Women’s Conference, and then, host of the Living Fabulously Fierce Talk Show….and many of you will be guests. Taking the scales of my vision indeed!

Side note: Sooooooo, if you’re looking for a speaker on confidence, self-esteem, personal brand building, diversity and inclusion……well, you know who to call!

So how about you, what did you end up with and what actions are you planning to take?  Feel free to share.

One last thing…
One thing that helped me dream grand was really focusing on leaving a legacy.  Simply, put, I want to make sure to leave a mark on this world that makes a significant enough difference to positively impact others,
however that may be.  I dread the thought of one day leaving this earth and not leaving some sort of a mark that shows that I lived, I added value, I dared to dream and live my dreams, and in some identifiable way, left a legacy that encourages others to do the same.  What’s the legacy you want to leave behind?

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