Monthly Archives: February 2011

Question #8 – How do you know you’re winning?

While making notes for the final entries in this series, I came across a post on my Facebook timeline by my FB friend Mel Hopkins, a sister I’ve never actually met in person or interacted with outside of FB. Mel is a social media maven who – via The Leadstory – supports people by helping them with “the right message @ the right time @ the right place” for their organizations and enterprises.

Hers was one of the first posts I read that day, and it immediately resonated with me. In a nutshell she was able to succinctly formulate what some of us continually struggle with, namely our unique and personal definition of success:

Altruism aside, HOW DO YOU MEASURE YOUR PROFESSIONAL/ PERSONAL SUCCESS? I measure my professional success in reach and revenue. For me, professionally Oprah is my model of success. Not only does she reach and affect millions of lives, she’s worth billions. I measure my personal success based on the ratio of days of internal harmony vs disharmony. How about you? How do you know you’re winning?

How about you?

When it comes to defining success, as black women we receive especially conflicting messages:

  • We’re told we have to give twice as much to be seen as half as competent
  • We let ourselves feel ugly, because we don’t conform to traditional Western criteria of beauty, and are often objectified as “exotic” – i.e. “other” – at best
  • We’re expected to hold everything together while ignoring the fact that – if we are doing 100 % of the work – someone else obviously isn’t doing their fair share

So, in our efforts to be “good girls” who are “down with the struggle” we hustle away, sometimes losing sight of what really matters. To us!

Can you mentally remove yourself from the space occupied by other people’s expectations of you?

When it comes down to defining a specific goal you’re committed to achieving, listening to your own gut feeling to understand why you’ve selected that goal is a must. Too often and too easily we slip into the rut of letting other people’s expectations subconsciously dictate the paths we take in life. Although we superficially make headway along those paths, sooner or later we can no longer ignore the dissonance between our so-called “progress” and the unease we feel inside.

Even if we do choose goals that are in line with our inner values and higher intentions, we need a personalized measuring stick to tell us if – and how much – progress we are making. So, forgetting all the outward manifestations we’ve been socialized to associate with success, how will you know if you’ve made it?

Because I realize that I’m just as guilty as the next woman when it comes to struggling with this point, I sat down in preparation for this entry and gave some thought to my own definition of winning. This is what I came up with:

I am a skilled, no-nonsense but compassionate “midwife” preparing an ever-increasing number of people to give birth to their professional dreams.

Professionally I am winning when: What I charge for my services easily finances my dynamic lifestyle, because it not only reflects the (highly unique) quality of what I do, but also the true and real value those services add to the lives of anyone brave and committed enough to working with me.

Personally I am winning when: The woman I am on the inside (my values, dreams and aspirations) is positively reflected in my immediate surroundings, in my relationships with other people and in the footprint I leave behind in the world.

Again: What about you?

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Are you already…

…living your life like it’s golden?

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Recap: 11 Questions to Empower You in 2011

With only four more questions to add the list, I’d first like to recap the questions I’ve shared so far.

  • Maybe you missed one?
  • May you feel the to need to revisit one?
  • Maybe you’d like to copy all of them into one place for future reference?

No matter what your reason, here is a list of the first seven questions aimed at empowering you to reach your goals with more focus, sovereignty and joy in 2011:

  1. What is my deep, authentic intention?
  2. Do I feel joy in moving forward?
  3. How do I define goals so that I’m motivated to really achieve them?
  4. Am I Planning to Fail?
  5. Why Make ‘Help’ A 4-Letter Word?
  6. Am I the Tortoise or the Hare?
  7. Am I making space in my life for the change I want to see?

BTW: Don’t forget to have a look at the helpful worksheets that go with many of the question entries!

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On the Radio: Jo Kelly-Bai’s Life Behind the Wall

You can listen to a recording of my interview with Jo Kelly-Bai, if you missed the live call last night!

Many of us have stories to tell about the journeys our lives have taken us on. Working through those stories motivate some of us to put the most compelling of our collection into book form. I’ve already had the honor of interviewing Carolyn Vines, whose book Black and (A)Broad documents how leaving the USA and immersing herself in a completely different culture helped her tackle her own complicated identity.

Although leaving your country of birth can be a daunting experience, I imagine the culture shock you experience relocating to the Netherlands (in Carolyn Vines’ case) or Germany (in my own) is nothing compared to what you experience when relocating to China!

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What’s So Important About MY Story?

One of the things my mother still doesn’t understand is why I’ve yet to write a book. Not only was I a precocious reader as a child, but I had the natural “gift of gab” that – whether in the writing or the telling – allowed people to dispel disbelief and step directly into the situation or setting I was recounting. Although I’ve done more than toyed with the idea over the past years, I have yet to distill that one special story that I simply can’t prevent from rushing onto my laptop or into my notebooks even if I tried. Imagine my relief yesterday when I read about a Japanese woman who became a best-selling author at the tender age of 99 years old.

Yes, Mother, there is hope for me yet!

Though my personal stories haven’t found their way onto the printed page or your Kindle as yet, I know that being aware of the uniqueness of all our stories is crucial to fully understanding the women we are and essential to our journeys of self-fulfillment.

  • As women we have had our stories co-opted over the centuries in cultures and societies where men are often both the private and public historians.
  • As black women our stories have been violated even more often – our voices pushed to the side and ignored in deference to those who share neither our race nor our gender.

That’s why many of us still find it so difficult to honor our individual as well as collective stories. Even though some of us realize – on a rational level – just how important these stories are, we still find it difficult to “mine” them: To dig deep within the muck and entrails of ourselves and pull those stories up, pearl by precious pearl.

That why one of my very favorite talks on ted.com is called “The Danger of a Single Story” by Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Adichie. This is one woman’s impressive tale of (re-)discovering her authentic cultural voice.

Although many of you may have already seen her presentation (I’ve posted it on Facebook, as well as my diversity blog, for example), I admit going back to it for inspiration while refining the outline for the upcoming, first-ever Uncaged Birds™retreat at the end of April 2011.

If you haven’t already, listen to Chimamanda’s story.

Then ask yourself: Am I ready to tell mine?

 

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