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Monday Motivation: The Upside of Taking Responsibility for Your Life and Career

The price of greatness is responsibility.

~Winston Churchill~

The word responsible comes from two words: response and able. Therefore, being responsible for your life and career means that while you can't control every situation in your life and career, you are always able to control how you respond to them. This fact doesn't change because of the nature of the circumstance and how difficult it may be. This is a significant distinction. One that warrants you to take stock of the upside of taking responsibility for your life and career.

Taking Responsibility for Your Life Puts You in The Driver Seat

Like most of us, your life has not been perfect. You have experienced disappointments, setbacks and adversity. Instead of getting on the band wagon with those who wallow in pity and major in the blame game, accepting full responsibility for your life puts you in the driver seat of how your life unfolds. Your complaining about the state of any aspect of your life will serve no positive purpose. More often complaining diminishes the amount of positive emotional energy that you exhibit towards taking meaningful actions that can change your situation.

No amount of life hacks can erase the process it takes for you to get from where you are to where you want to be. Sure, there are tips, principles and strategic plans that can help you reduce the amount of time it took someone else to accomplish similar dreams and goals, but they can't erase the fact that success is a process of quality decisions and purpose driven actions implemented consistently over a period of time. This is a fact of life. Any denial of this truth on your part will not alter this truth.

Whatever you want, improve your relationships, position yourself for your next promotion, start a business, expand your business, make new friends, go back to college to gain new skills to living a healthier lifestyle, requires that you accept responsibility for your present state and engage the most effective process of actions that will help you manifest your desired reality.

Taking Responsibility for Your Life Takes Guts

Taking personal responsibility for your life and being accountable for the effectiveness of your actions towards the achievement of your dreams and goals is summed up in this phrase, “If it's to be, it's up to me.” This mindset challenges the prevailing cultural norm which encourages people to wallow in self-pity and blame everyone and there mother for the conditions of their lives. It requires courage to believe that in spite of your imperfect life experiences, you have the power to define your destiny.

It takes guts to challenge the status quo. Defining your destiny begins with accepting the state of your life and career. It includes, acknowledging the gap between where you are and where you want to be and focusing on what you have to do to play the hand you've been dealt to win. You will need to develop personal practices which help you maintain an audacity to hope while nurturing empowering beliefs in your heart that your efforts will not be futile. You'll need to develop relationships with people who can provide you with wise advice and constructive feedback that supports your success. Nurturing a resilient mindset is essential to maintaining the ability to bounce back from setbacks. Your ability to tune-out the noise of the world so that you can tune-in to the still small voice within that offers you intuitive insight and guidance for navigating your path forward will be priceless.

The Upside of Taking Responsibility for Your Life
Becoming fully persuaded in your mind that your destiny is up to you enables you to experience the upside of responsibility which includes the following:

  • You don't depend on others to behave a certain way for you to manifest what you want in your life.
  • You recognize that the “ball is in your court” and the decisions that you make determine what your next shot will be.
  • You don't wait on circumstances to be ideal before you begin to initiate the actions it will take to create what you want to experience.
  • You have the courage to step out of your history to create the future you desire and deserve.
  • You cultivate an empowering story of who you are, who you can become, what you are smart and strong enough to handle and what you are worthy of experiencing in life.

In Conclusion

Taking responsibility for your life requires that you own up to the choices that you've made which reflect the current state of your life and career. The choice to take full responsibility for your life and career is not always an easy decision. It requires you to challenge the status quo of a prevailing cultural norm that tends to use people and circumstances as a scapegoat for not exercising one's authority and power to play the hand that you've been dealt in life with the purpose of winning.

Taking responsibility for your life and career requires guts. The moxie to stop playing small and tap into a greater measure of the seeds of greatness dwelling within your potential will come as a result of your decision to get into the driver seat of your life. A proactive approach towards defining your destiny fuels the personal leadership traits of courage, confidence and perseverance. Over time, the quality of your decisions and the effectiveness of your actions will determine your capacity to manifest new possibilities in your life and career.

I'd like to know your thoughts. How do you think wallowing in pity and majoring in the blame game effects an individual's ability to be the captain of his or her destiny? Share your comments below.

Source: Find Your Courage by Margie Warrell.

Jackie Capers-Brown is CEO and founder of Next Level Training Solutions located in Columbia, SC. She conducts performance enhancing seminars, workshops and group coaching experiences for resolving personal and career blocks and resistance to success.

Her articles have been published on several personal growth and development websites, including theselfimprovementblog.com, theselfesteemblog.com, and goleadergrow.com.

Jackie is the author of three books including her new book, Get Unstuck Now. You can connect with her on Twitter.
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25 Quotes to Unleash the Courage Within You


Oprah Winfrey states, “The great courageous act that we must all do, is to have the courage to step out of our history and past so that we can live our dreams.” Manifesting new possibilities in your life requires unleashing a greater measure of the courage dwelling within. Courage is not something that comes from outside of us. Although external factors and influences can play a critical role in drawing it out of us. Unleashing the courage within you begins with cultivating beliefs that you are courageous.

The following 25 quotes will help you cultivate and unleash the courage within.

  1. It is in your power to discover that who you really are has nothing to do with fear, but that you make yourself fearful each time you look outside of yourself for some power to make you feel fearless. ~Vernon Howard
  2. Valor grows by daring, fear by holding back. ~Publilius Syrus'
  3. It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult. ~Seneca
  4. No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
  5. Starting now never again permit hard or disapproving facial expressions to intimidate you. ~Vernon Howard
  6. No one can make you happy or sad or excited or angry unless you give them that power over your life. Decide right now to only give power to those things, circumstances and people that support you in getting what you want. ~Marshall Sylver
  7. Don't let the negativity given to you by the world disempower you. Instead give to yourself that which empowers you. ~Les Brown
  8. Nothing has any power over me other than that which I give it through my conscious thoughts. ~Anthony Robbins
  9. Nothing has any power except the power that you give it. ~Marshal Sylver
  10. If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any given moment.~Marcus Aurelius
  11. When two people meet, the prize always goes to the one with the most self-insight. He will be calmer, more confident, more at ease with the other. ~Vernon Howard
  12. He who knows much about others may be learned, but he who understands himself is more intelligent. He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still. ~Lao Tzu
  13. We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity. ~Barbara De Angelis
  14. The number one characteristic of students who later become heads of companies is the ability to withstand uncertainty. ~David A. Thomas, Dean, Cornell Business School
  15. It is the individual's ability to deal with the unexpected that characterizes the difference between success and failure. ~Ross Perot
  16. If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never plant anything and never harvest anything.  ~Ecclesiastes 11:4 (Good News Bible)
  17. Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. ~Samuel Johnson
  18. Your true nature never needs to anxiously prove itself to others, but lives in calm command, like a popular king. ~Vernon Howard
  19. The real acid test of courage is to be just your honest self when everybody is trying to be somebody else. ~Andrew Jensen
  20. The time men spend in trying to impress others, they could spend in doing the things by which others would be impressed. ~Frank Romer
  21. Naturalness is the easiest thing in the world to acquire, if you will forget yourself, forget about the impression you are trying to make. ~Dale Carnegie
  22. This above all; to thine own self be true. ~William Shakespeare
  23. Do it like there's no one watching. Do it like you don't need the money. Do it like you just can't lose. JUST DO IT. ~Nike Ad
  24. Courage is acting in spite of fear. ~Howard W. Hunter
  25. In spite of fear, do what you have to do. ~Ching-Ning-Chu

Cultivating and unleashing the courage within you increases your capacity to get from where you are to where you want to be in life. The previous quotes can help boost the measure of courage that you demonstrate towards your dreams and goals if you see them as catalysts that evoke you into action.

Be Better Than Your Best!

PS. Even those people who are the most creative, productive and successful gets stuck ... it sucks! My new book, Get Unstuck Now. shares vivid details, examples, research and practical advice on one of the toughest challenges that most of us confront; how to transform limiting beliefs and negative self talk that hinders us from becoming all that we can be. Better is not only possible...it's doable by YOU! Be better. Do better. Live Better.
Invest in yourself and your future by breaking the invisible chains that's holding you back. Click on this link for more details and to purchase the book, Get Unstuck Now.

PS. If you're struggling with limiting beliefs and assumptions about who you can become, what you're smart and strong enough to handle and what you are worthy of experiencing, my new book, Get Unstuck Now shares vivid stories, practical advice and research on how to identify and transform your internal blocks and resistance to success and happiness. Get out of your own way and begin to fully express your authentic power. Click on this link for more details and to purchase the book, Get Unstuck Now.

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Monday Motivation: 10 Ways to Practice Visualization and Manifest New Possibilities

Images and mental picture...tend to produce the physical conditions

and external acts that correspond to them.

~Robert Assagioli~

The practice of visualization has been around since creation. God imagined or thought of heavens and earth and went about making that which was once invisible, visible in six days. As spiritual beings having a human experience we are made in the image of God.
We are endowed with the creative ability to imagine and manifest that which was once invisible as our reality. For us to do this, we must tap into the power of our imagination through the practice of visualization.

What is Visualization?

In his book, Quantum Leap Thinking, James Mapes writes, “Visualization is the emotionally charged mental movie of what you want to happen, imagining events as if they have already happened.” Numerous studies have confirmed that images created in the mind fires the same neural connections in the automatic nervous system as does the act. In other words thinking and doing, relative to our automatic nervous system are the same. It is an established scientific fact that our subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between a real or imagined experience. Tapping into the power within your imagination through the practice of visualization increases your capacity to actualize the compelling vision that you have established for your life. I discuss the benefits of having a compelling vision for your life in this article: Personal Leadership Success Always Begins with Vision.

Why We Should Focus More on What We Do Want

Mapes concluded, “Focusing on what you don't want is just as powerful a focusing on what you do want. Both create results. He asserts, “Thinking in terms of “don't” programs the mind to achieve a negative result. Unaware, we rehearse defeat by focusing on what we don't want instead of what we do want.”

It has been reported that when Michelangelo was asked how he created his classic sculpture of David, he said he took a large piece of marble, imagined the sculpture in vivid detail, and then chipped away everything that wasn't David. This is how the practice of visualization supports your creative ability to make the invisible visible in your life. The reality that you desire to experience must appear in your imagination before it becomes visible. Your imagination enables you to create in your mind beyond your reality. Change in any aspect of your life follows your imagination.

The practice of visualization has long been used by athletes ad peak performers in all industries to improve their level of success. They are no better or smarter than you. You deserve to experience the level of success that you're willing to make happen in your life. You can do this by using all of your resources, including your imagination.

In his book, Mapes identifies the following steps to developing the
practice of visualization and becomin quantum leap thinker.

  1. Be clear about what you want. Create a list of experiences that you desire to achieve in relation to the compelling vision you have for your life. From this list, prioritize the experiences by determining the order in which you need to achieve each experience to reach your desired end.
  2. Align your goals with your values. Review your top three experiences, are they aligned with present priorities and personal values? When what you desire to experience is in conflict with you core values, you are more apt to sabotage your efforts towards making them a reality. It's important that your top three desired experiences (goals) are aligned with your values to sustain the focus, passion and perseverance necessary to achieve them.
  3. Put yourself in a receptive state. Mapes writes, “Think of your conscious mind as a camera and your subconscious mind as the film. Relaxing the conscious mind is like pushing the shutter button. Images become imprinted on the film.” A proven relaxation technique includes recalling a place where you feel at peace. Shut your eyes and use your imagination to take notice of the colors, smells, sounds, temperature, textures and emotions that you experience in this place. This practice of calming your mental chatter and opening our subconscious to the influence of your imagination helps to put you in a relaxed state of mind.
  4. Make your visualization real. In this step, you want to utilize all of your senses to make real in your imagination the number one experience you've identified on your list. Utilizing the power of your imagination and your senses, see it, hear it, taste it, smell it and feel it in the greatest detail possible. Mapes acknowledges, “Some people are attuned to the auditory (hearing), kin esthetic (feeling), or olfactory (smelling) than the visual. Whatever works for you is exactly the right method. The more detailed you are able to make it in your imagination, the more real it is to your subconscious. Your ability to create vivid details of the experiences that you desire to have in life increases the level of faith and confidence you demonstrate towards making the invisible visible in your life.
  5. Energize your visualization. Mapes suggests that you “give as much high-powered emotion to your visualization.” You can do this by recalling a previous time in which you were successful towards the attainment of a goal. Recall the level of passion, curiosity, excitement and confidence you displayed towards it. Use this heightened state of awareness and emotion to help imprint your subconscious with “high-powered emotion” toward your present goals.
  6. Visualize Often. The more you practice visualization, the better you will get at it. Mapes asserts, “The clearer, more detailed and consistent your visualization, the more likely you are to attract and notice opportunities to make your dreams come true.” I've found creating a vision board is a helpful tool in reminding one to practice visualization often.
  7. Visualize before you go to bed. Your subconscious is awake and functioning while you are asleep. By feeding it positive visualization of the tasks you need to complete on a daily basis and those relevant to your priority goals, you give it five to eight hours to work on your behalf.
  8. Support your visualization with affirmation. Mapes suggests “writing your affirmations on paper and carrying them with you so that you can glance at them whenever you choose.” Place words that affirm who you are, who you are becoming, what you are capable of achieving and what you are worthy of experiencing in life on your vision board. Each day that you review your vision board, read these words out loud to yourself to help program your subconscious and transform any limiting beliefs and assumptions you might have about yourself.
  9. Trust the process and be patient. Just like baking bread, you have to allow time for the practice of visualization to cook up in your mind's eye to become your desired reality. Success in any endeavor involves a process. You have to be willing to endure the process to reach your desired end. Declare daily positive affirmations about yourself and your success, such as, “I am becoming what I want to be.” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” “It will be.”
  10. Be grateful. At the beginning of each day, practice acknowledging at least three things that you are grateful for in your life. At the end of each day, practice acknowledging three things that went well for you. Make time to demonstrate your appreciation for others. Seize opportunities to contribute value in the lives of others.

You have been endowed with the creative ability to make visible that which was once invisible. This ability empowers you with the capacity to create new possibilities in your life. The ten actions in this article provide you with a road map of actions you can initiate to support your efforts in realizing the experiences (goals) that you've identified as most important to you. Focusing more on what you want increases the chance that you will attract the opportunities that will help you experience it.

I'd like to know your thoughts. What has been your experience with visualization? Share your comments below.

Be Better Than Your Best!

PS. Even those people who are the most creative, productive and successful gets stuck ... it sucks! My new book, Get Unstuck Now  shares vivid details, examples, research and practical advice on one of the toughest challenges that most of us confront; how to transform limiting beliefs and negative self talk that hinders us from becoming all that we can be. Better is not only possible...it's doable by YOU! Be better. Do better. Live Better. Invest in yourself and your future by breaking the invisible chains that's holding you back.Click on this link for more details and to purchase the book, Get Unstuck Now.

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Get Unstuck Now Case Study: Empowering You to Get Out of Your Own Way

Even those people who are the most creative, productive and successful gets stuck ... it sucks!

I'm looking for 10-15 individuals who want to set the reset button on some area of their life so that they finish 2014 strong and hit the ground running in 2015.

I'm conducting the Get Unstuck Now Masterclass starting on August 26, 2014 for eight consecutive weeks in Columbia, SC from 5:30 pm until 8 pm. The class and materials are FREE.

In exchange for the mindset and skills training and customize coaching each participant will receive, plus the support of individuals who are being hand picked to ensure a harmonious and successful group experience, your success story will be documented as a case study for the Get Unstuck Now Online Master Class launching in the second quarter of 2015.

Message me with your email and phone number at jackiecapersbrown@gmail.com ONLY if you can commit to meeting eight consecutive weeks on Tuesdays, at the above times AND you are tired of waiting, stalling and twiddling your thumbs daydreaming about the life you want to experience.

This eight week program, valued at $280, is for those who are serious about getting out of their own way. I will conduct phone interviews of individuals that are interested through August 22th. I look forward to speaking to smart people who have decided that they have to make a change to manifest new possibilities in their lives.


Completing this program will empower you to finish 2014 strong and hit the ground running in 2015. You have what it takes to make it happen. The seeds of greatness within you need to be planted in fertile ground so that they can take root and begin to empower you to grow forward and flourish in life.

Don't miss the ONLY opportunity to take part in this FREE program. Don't miss your OPPORTUNITY to get out of your own way and experience the happiness and success that's possible in your life!

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

I look forward to working with you as your personal success coach to press the reset button in your life to chart a course that leads to greater happiness and success.

Be Better than Your Best!

Your Success Coach

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Personal Branding Quotes to Help You Stand Out!

  1. “Brand yourself for the career you want, not the job you have.”
  2. “By focusing entirely on your personal brand, you become unemployable.”
  3. “Create your own career, instead of letting your company do it for you.”
  4. “If you want to be known for everything, you’ll be known for nothing.”
  5. “When you have passion, expertise and a support system, you can do anything!”
  6. “Make your life one giant networking event.”
  7. “You have to be as committed to your personal brand as you are to your husband or wife.”
  8. “Just like content is king on the internet, your experience is king when it comes to getting a job.”
  9. “In order to succeed in the new world of work you MUST become the commander of your career.”
  10. “Be the real you because everyone else is taken and replicas don’t sell for as much.”
  11. “As technology rapidly changes, your personal brand remains constant.”
  12. “The best way to become successful is to make others successful first.”
  13. “What makes you weird, makes you unique and therefore makes you stand out.”
  14. “If you don’t know what you bring to the table, you don’t get a seat there.”
  15. “Life is one big pitch, so you better start practicing.”
  16. “Your blog is your space…completely yours to do with whatever you want.”
  17. “To succeed, you must be the best at what you do for a specific audience.”
  18. “The first opportunities are the hardest to obtain because everyone wants to view your past performance.”
  19. “You are the chief marketing officer for the brand called you, but what others say about your brand is more impactful than what you say about yourself.”
  20. “To secure your brand, spend more of your time networking outside of your company than within.”
  21. “It’s what you do that makes you who you are and how you project that to others that makes you memorable.”
  22. “When it comes to the web, you are judged solely on what is observable.”
  23. “Proficiency in social media is a differentiator now, but will soon be a qualifier.”
  24. “The goal of personal branding is to be recruited based on your brand, not applying for jobs.”
  25. “You won’t succeed in marketing a poor personal brand.”
  26. “When you brand yourself properly, the competition becomes irrelevant.”
  27. “Visibility creates opportunities.”
  28. “If a resume was the deciding factor in recruitment, there would never be a need for interviews.”
  29. “The divide between interviewing for a position and actually working at a company will close thanks to employer branding.”
  30. “Social media will expose people who have bad intentions and reward people who are trying to make a positive impact on the world.”
  31. “It’s not the size of your network, but how you use it.”
  32. “In order to be successful tomorrow, you must sacrifice today.”
  33. “Lead with your brand and let the compensation follow.”
  34. “Any new opportunity or experience can change your life.”
  35. “As professional and personal lives converge, those who are authentic and transparent will triumph.”
  36. “When you are passionate about your job, it becomes a hobby.”
  37. “The most successful networkers give value before receiving.”
  38. “The reciprocal nature of networking establishes a relationship instead of a one-night-stand.”
  39. “Passion is personal branding fuel.”
  40. “Your name and face carry your brand in both reality and virtual reality, such that wherever they are cited, your personal brand is at stake.”

Check out this video by Marie Forleo on branding your business.

Do you have a personal branding quote that you would add to the quote list? Share it below.

Be Better than Your Best!

Jackie Capers-Brown
Founder, Grow Forward & Flourish

Quotes Source: personalbranding.com
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3 Tips to Building Workplace Confidence

Anchor your confidence to the belief that you will get better with practice.  Expect great things from yourself and make them happen.
J.D. Meier

Confidence comes from competence. It is not a gift that you can wish and hope for. I define competence as the ability to acquire and put to constructive use our strengths, skills and knowledge to achieve desired outcomes. The level of competence we have towards a goal or overcoming a challenge in life influences our success in life.

When we feel competent enough to accomplish a task, we approach the task with greater confidence. Our confidence generates a quiet assurance in our ability which in turn reinforces the belief that we are capable of taking on the task or challenge at hand.

Insulating ourselves from challenges or new experiences because we don’t feel comfortable fails to develop our competence and confidence to be more, do more and have more in life. Life throws curve balls. Hoping and expecting life to always be a bed of roses sets us up to fail at handling disappointments, frustrations and adversity. We do ourselves a disservice when we hold unrealistic expectations about life.

You have to recognize the importance of developing perspectives and behaviors that fuel your confidence at work. If you allow yourself to succumb to limiting beliefs and accept the “status quo” of less than your best performance, you are self-sabotaging the level of success that you are capable of achieving in the workplace.

Like many people, you may have a tendency to undervalue what you can do because you've had few people to rally behind and support your success. That may be the case, but, you have a choice. You can make a decision that you will be your own cheerleader. You will believe in yourself. You will become all that you can be. You will become a fuller expression of your knowledge, experience, talents and strengths. You will dwell in possibility. This perspective have the power to increase the measure of confidence that you demonstrate in the workplace.

The following tips will help build your confidence at work.

  1. Develop Realistic Expectations: To develop realistic expectations about life you have to develop a proper perspective towards your life and yourself. To do this, you must challenge the assumptions you have about life that continue to create frustration, disappointment and setbacks in your life. Why? The assumptions you have influence the perceptions or lens by which you see yourself and the world. If the assumptions you have about yourself at work are a result of limited perceptions influenced by social conditioning you are more apt to approach your workplace opportunities and career with a limited or scarcity mentality. Challenging the validity of your assumptions will expand your awareness of who you can become, what you are smart and strong enough to handle at work and the level of success that you believe you are worthy of experiencing in your career.
  2. Cultivate Personal Excellence: It’s not enough to know what to do, the power of personal excellence is a result of what you do with what you know. What is the quality of your reputation as a result of your actions? Have you ever considered asking those closest to you what they think about your personal integrity and commitment to excellence? Each of us has blind spots about ourselves.

Keep your finger on the pulse of the perception others have about you. No, I’m not expecting for you to care about the opinions of everyone, just those that matter most to the life you are creating. This may seem harsh when you first read it, but give it some time. You will recognize that being overly concerned about what everyone thinks about you can become a full-time job. Everyone and their mother has an opinion. You’re not going to stop people from having an opinion or sharing it. What you can do is focus on producing high quality results, one after another. After a while, even the cynics won’t have much to talk about and when they do people with integrity won't pay them much attention because the excellence of your results will speak for you.

  1. Network Beyond Your Comfort Zone: Success leaves clues. The company you keep, meaning the five or ten people you spend the most time with, says a lot about your values and the direction your life will go in. Their personal character, values, goals and habits will influence you over time. Much research has been conducted to prove that we are susceptible to social influences, especially within our inner-circle.

For this reason, it is important that you network beyond your comfort zone. Pursue experiences that require for you to regularly interact with new people and new ideas. These enriching experiences will expand your knowledge of a variety of subjects, including life and develop your social and emotional intelligences. Feeling competent that you can handle the unfamiliar enlarges your confidence.

In life, as well as your workplace you will experience disappointment, frustrations and heartache. It comes with the territory. If you develop realistic expectations, cultivate personal excellence and network beyond your comfort circle, you can deliberately develop greater confidence in your ability to manage tasks and challenges, while positioning yourself to express more of your ability in the workplace.

Jackie Capers-Brown is CEO and founder of Next Level Training Solutions located in Columbia, SC. She is the content curator and editor for her blog, Grow Forward & Flourish. Jackie is the author of Success Becomes You, Lead to Succeed and her newest book Get Unstuck Now

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3 Steps to Cultivating Empowering Beliefs

Have you ever wondered how individuals who have had to face daunting circumstances are able to press on to achieve personal and professional goals, while others lose their motivation and quit altogether? Why are some people able to maintain a fiery drive while other people’s inner drive fizzles? So, what’s the secret to maintaining a fierce and determined attitude towards achieving success in life? First, you’ve got to develop and nurture empowering beliefs that boost your sense of personal power. As you approach life with a greater sense of personal power, you’ll respond to challenges with the courage and confidence necessary to achieve your goals in an effective and productive manner.
Beliefs Shape Our Identity and Life Experiences
Empowering beliefs about who your are, who you can become and what you're capable of doing inspire an empowering identity. Your identity shapes your behavior. Your behavior shapes the quality of your life. I was seven years old when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. I can still recall the anger, the shock and disbelief that engulfed members of my family and neighbors, the black community, our nation and the world as a result of this tragedy. For weeks after his death, WIS-Radio, a local station in Columbia, SC played snippets of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Each time I listened to a clip of his speech, my seven-year old self became convinced that Dr. King was speaking directly to me. Call it naiveté’, if you will, but my childlike faith believed this at the core of my being.
Hearing portions of Dr. King’s speech, over and over, began to paint images in my mind of a better America and my role in contributing to make it possible. Living in the heart of Dixie where “blacks only” and “whites only” signs in public spaces was the status quo, his words inspired my heart with hope. My sense of hope encouraged me to believe that God intended for me to help make a difference in the lives of others. I became convinced of this in my mind and heart.
Believing in yourself isn’t everything but you won’t pursue much of anything if you don’t. Many years ago, I was a single mother of two children earning minimum wage as a housekeeper at the Columbia Marriott hotel. Armed with my faith in God, a compelling vision of what I believed to be possible with the company and a commitment to personal excellence, I decided to play the hand I had been dealt to the best of my ability. My decision and commitment to initiate purpose driven actions toward advancement opportunities with Marriott enabled me to navigate an award winning leadership career and become the general manager of a million dollar hotel property. After leaving Marriott, I went on to manage several other million dollar businesses before starting my writing and training businesses. None of this would have been possible had I not cultivated the empowering beliefs that shaped what I believed about myself and ability to manifest new possibilities in my life.
Here's three actions you can take to cultivate empowering beliefs.
  1. Create and nurture an empowering story. Maintaining the motivation it takes to achieve the level of success you want to experience comes down to the “word in your heart.” The “word in your heart” reflects the story you tell yourself about who you are, who you can become, what you can do and what you are worthy of experiencing in life. Creating and nurturing an empowering story in your heart that is immersed with positive beliefs about yourself is critical to the measure of faith, fortitude and perseverance you exhibit towards the achievement of your goals.
  2. Remember to remember strong moments in your life. Those moments when you felt like giving up, but you didn’t. When you faced challenges that seemed too much for you to handle, yet, you figured out how to overcome them and navigate your way forward. These moments serve as evidence of your smarts and innate strength. Value them; use them to transform any self-defeating assumptions you may have about your ability to handle “what is” while you initiate action to create “what can be.” If you are going to believe anything about yourself, presume you are strong and smart enough to achieve your goals. This belief will create an empowering self-image which impacts the effectiveness of your response to challenges and opportunities.
  3. Be results-oriented. People who live their dreams share a common trait; they cultivate the art of follow-through towards tasks related to their goals. The ability to execute plans to reach specific aims in life supersedes formal education, talent and your network, in deciding how much you will achieve in life. Instead of being “busy for busy sakes,” be results-oriented. Master the art of follow-through to produce results relevant to the achievement of goals that matter to your success in life. As you produce results that create success on a consistent basis, your actions will boost your confidence and expand your influence and success.
It matters what you believe. Be proactive in the development of positive beliefs about yourself. Empowering beliefs about who you are, who you can become and what you are capable of doing in life energizes you from the inside-out and inspires an empowering story of what’s possible in your life. Success leaves clues. Remember your strong moments and the traits you demonstrated during these situations. Making progress towards the achievement of your goals strengthens your intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is powerful. It helps you to maintain a strong desire towards manifesting the compelling vision you have in your mind and heart of “what can be” in your life. Empowering beliefs serve as a bridge that connects to the power within you to make visible that which was once invisible.
I'd like to know your thoughts. How have your beliefs helped you to unleash a greater measure of your potential. Share your story in the comments below.
Be Better Than Your Best!

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Soul Versation: 5 Steps to Designing Success that's Aligned with the Rhythm of Your Soul

 You only have to look at the lives of many celebrities, leaders of business and everyday folks, perhaps yourself, to realize that great success does not necessarily equal a greater measure of happiness. The quest for success often lead many people down paths that are not authentic to the rhythm of their soul. As a result, the more success they experience, the more they feel trapped in a lifestyle that is not representative of their deepest values and highest self.
This form of success weakens us at our core. It disconnects us from our authentic truth. It often requires us to conform and deny the true expression of our strengths and talents. You feel an unction from within for “more of something,” but you're not sure what this “more of something” feels or looks like, so you look outside of yourself for an answer that can only come from within you. When you begin to define success in terms that are aligned with the rhythm of your soul, you will create a lifestyle that exhibits your authentic power and resonates with purpose, personal excellence and meaningful contribution.

What is the Rhythm of Your Soul?

Everything in life is a vibration. Each individual soul has its own unique vibration. Our soul craves success that is aligned with its highest vibration.
So, what do I mean by living a life aligned with the rhythm of your soul? I define rhythm of the soul as, “Movement that is in harmony with your deepest values and your highest self.” Any action that we take that compromises our deepest values and causes us to lose respect for ourselves diminishes the strength of our soul. I define the soul as, our thoughts, emotions and free will.

Why is Success Defined by the Rhythm of Your Soul Important?
When our soul is weakened, we are more susceptible to external influences. Some of which are not in our short or long-term best interest. Our soul is strengthened by actions in harmony with our deepest values and our highest self. When we can look ourselves in the mirror and feel proud of who we are and who we are becoming, and know with all sincerity that the actions we exhibit towards people, our responsibilities and goals reflect the best intentions and our personal best, we are attuned to the highest frequency of our soul. In this state, you are much more conscious of the decisions you make and the actions you take to achieve success in life.

The following steps increase your capacity to realize success aligned with the rhythm of your soul.

Step 1: Begin with the end in mind. In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes, People often find themselves achieving victories that are empty, successes that have come at the expense of things they suddenly realize were far more valuable to them.” He points out, “...when we really know what is deeply important to us, and keep that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and do what really matters most.” Ask yourself, “Am I living my life in a manner that represents the legacy I want to etch in the hearts and minds of the people in my life?”
Keep at the forefront of your mind the legacy that you want to build with your life. This habit helps you to remain conscious of how your decisions and actions honor or dishonor what matters most to you.
Step 2: Challenge your stories. Margie Warrell shares in Find Your Courage, “Given that our actions are based on the realities that we define regarding who we are and what we are capable of achieving, our lives are either limited or expanded by the stories we have devised.” Ask yourself, “In what way is this story I'm telling myself helping or hindering me from living a life that represents my deepest values and the highest version of myself?”
When you begin to divorce yourself from limiting beliefs and assumptions about what's not possible in your life, and begin to cultivate hope in your heart as to what is possible, you are more apt to initiate purpose driven actions that support your quest to create new realities in your life. Cultivating an empowering story of who you are, who you can become, what you can do and what you are worthy of experiencing enables you to harness your power to realize dreams that satisfies your soul and rewards you with meaningful success.
Step 3: Cultivate a growth mindset. Unless you do something beyond what you have already mastered you will never grow. In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck, Ph.D. - a professor at Stanford University and social psychologist, explains that there are two different mindsets: a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset.” Individuals with a fixed mindset approach life wanting to look smart. They believe that their intelligence and talents are static. Individuals with a growth mindset approach life with a curiosity towards learning. They believe that their intelligence and talents are dynamic and adaptable. Ask yourself, “What actions can I take to grow my capacity to be and do more of what my soul craves?”
As human beings, we tend to demonstrate our strongest self when we are expanding our capacity to be more and do more of what resonates with our soul. Cultivating a growth mindset inspires you to grow your skills and talents. It develops within you a stronger sense of who you are, who you can become and what you are capable of accomplishing.
Step 4: Pay attention to what lights you up! Tom Rath, author of Strength Finder 2.0 says, “You cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who you already are.” Research has proven that there is a direct correlation between the level of satisfaction we experience in our personal and professional lives and the amount of time we spend involved in activities that spark our passion and engage our areas of strength. Our strength zone reflects those tasks and activities which we find ourselves positively anticipating and looking forward to doing. Many of these tasks and activities will challenge you to grow your personal capacity. Because they engage your strengths, you'll find yourself so engulfed in them that you often lose track of time and enter into what psychologists term as flow. Ask yourself, “What tasks and activities am I involved in, or would like to engage that generates curiosity and enthusiasm within me?”
The answer to this question provides you with clues as to the tasks, activities and environments that will stimulate positive emotions, cultivate positive relationships and create meaningful experiences that lead to the achievement of success aligned with rhythm of your soul.
Step 5: Deal effectively with mistakes. In their book, The Power of Intention, Robert Brooks, PH.D and Sam Goldstein, PH.D write,“Resilient people interpret mistakes and respond to mistakes much differently than those who are not resilient. Resilient people see mistakes as opportunities for learning and growth, while those who are not resilient attribute mistakes and failure to conditions in which they are powerless and have no control”.
When you accept that mistakes are a part of life, and you do your best to improve a situation, you will remain in harmony with the rhythm of your soul. From this perspective, you are more apt to approach mistakes with an “I can handle this!” attitude. Brooks and Goldstein suggest, “Ask yourself what are different things you can do, either to change your behavior so that mistakes are less likely to occur, or to change how you view and respond to mistakes when they do occur?
It will be impossible for you to live a satisfying lifestyle if you are constantly worried about looking foolish at a task or in the pursuit of a dream or goal. As you focus on learning from, rather than feeling condemned by mistakes, you will be more apt to develop healthier coping strategies in dealing effectively with mistakes. Mistakes are a part of life. If you can accept this fact and choose to learn from them, you will approach life with greater enthusiasm towards redefining what's possible in your life. 

In Conclusion
When we begin to embody the mindset and behaviors that reflect our deepest values and highest self, we begin to discover and live a lifestyle congruent with the rhythm of our soul. We begin to take steps to design our success based on terms that strengthen us from the inside out and provide us with a sense of meaning and purpose that satisfies our soul.
Our lives will never be perfect. We are mature enough to recognize that it doesn't have to be for us to appreciate and love it. We are much happier when we have a quiet sense of assurance from within that “all is well.” And it's possible to experience this assurance even in the midst of our imperfect lives. When we embody a sense of peace and calmness, it's easier to get clear about what we should do in most situations. When we feel clear about our decisions and actions, we display a greater measure of courage and confidence.
Aligning your success with the rhythm of your soul involves having a clear picture in mind of what you stand for and the legacy that will be created from living your life congruent to your core values and highest aspirations. This will include, challenging the stories that you tell yourself that limit what your believe to be possible in your life, cultivating a mindset that sparks curiosity towards learning, being intentional towards engaging tasks and activities that allow you to soar with your strengths and managing mistakes in a manner that gives you an advantage in the future.

I'd like to know what you think. Which of the steps in article resonates with your approach towards manifesting success in your life? Share your comments below.

Be Better than Your Best!

Jackie Capers-Brown
Founder, Grow Forward & Flourish

Author, Get Unstuck Now
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POW! What to Do When Your Dream is Delayed


I'm sharing this experience with you because in the face of an unexpected setback towards the realization of a dream, it's important that you hold firm to the dream that you have in your heart. Success is rarely a straight path. More often than not, you will have to overcome obstacles to realize your dreams. Nevertheless, if you're willing to do what it takes to make your dream a reality, you increase the odds in your favor that what you've envisioned becomes your reality.

My Dream of Paying It Forward
On February 10, 2014, I signed a contract with a local community center in Columbia, SC to use specific rooms in the facility for a five day summer camp I was planning to host for youth, young adults and single parents on August 4th-8th, 2014. The cost of the facility is FREE to the public, Monday thru Friday. This year the camp would be FREE to all attendees. The day that I signed this contract served as a confirmation for me that the vision I had for paying it forward in the lives of those experiencing many of the challenges that I'd face and was able to overcome was going to become a reality.
I contacted the Columbia Housing Authority and met with the Assistant Director of its Self-Sufficiency program and community case managers to share information about the mission and vision of the Elevate Dreamers Mentoring Initiative and how the camp was the first of several programs of the organization that would support their Self-Sufficiency program. They became supportive of my efforts, encouraging me to attend monthly community meetings to speak to residents about the camp.
The Formation of Team Elevate
After signing the contract for the use of the facility, I started to ask for help on social networking sites for individuals interested in helping me plan the event. I reached out to corporate leaders and entrepreneurs that I knew and hoped would agree to present at the camp, free of charge. Several presenters signed up because they knew others that were a part of Team Elevate. In a month, there were several people interested in being members of the planning committee and we had 30+presenters who were willing to conduct 30 to 45 minute presentations. I was able to secure four back up speakers. The planning committee members and me then directed our attention towards getting sponsors for the lunches.
Support from the Community
I contacted a few community service agencies informing them of the camp and inquiring if any of their clients would be interested in attending. Two of the agencies contacted me letting me know that they indeed had clients interested in attending.
The estimated number of people attending the camp went from 40 to 75-80 people after contacting the community service agencies. I had signed a contract for the multipurpose room of the facility, which could seat approximately 150 people, so I wasn't concerned about not having enough space. With the help of Team Elevate planning committee members, we were able get all of the lunches sponsored for the camp.
Although I had four speakers who were unable to present because of schedule conflicts as the year progressed, and found it difficult to secure sponsors for the t-shirts, workbooks and scholarships to fee-based after-school enrichment programs for eligible youth attending the camp, I continued to use the skills I developed when I worked as a telemarketer to schedule time to make cold calls and follow-up calls to businesses about sponsoring items for the camp. I started a GoFund Me account for the purpose of getting funds for items that I was having a difficult time getting sponsored.
Despite the numerous challenges we faced and had to overcome, we kept our focus on the empowering experience we were creating together. My hope and anticipation for creating an amazing experience for attendees and everyone involved continued to increase as months passed.
An Unexpected Setback
Managers of several of the Columbia Housing Authority communities and contacts at the community service agencies were expecting me to drop off the flyer and applications for the camp on the 1st of July. I stopped by the community center to make sure that all their ducks were in a row for the camp taking place there in a month.  
POW! I was informed by my contact, the person who had approved my reservation for the multipurpose room in the facility, that the room had been reserved by a government agency for several days during the same week I had reserved it for the camp. She informed me that she would contact the agency about the situation and call me the following day. She never apologized for the mix up. Right after she realized the over-booked situation, she asked me, “Do you know the agency?” I replied, “Yes, I do.” In that moment, it didn't matter to me which government agency had been booked in the multipurpose room. All I could think about was the lack of professionalism being demonstrated towards my camp and how many people it was going to effect.
Making a Hard Decision
I didn't drop off the applications. Instead, I started on a writing assignment and pondered for the rest of the evening about the situation. I knew that several speakers scheduled on the days in which the multipurpose room was double-booked would need to use the audio/visual equipment in the room to conduct their presentations. I had scheduled several interactive activities which would be a bit noisy. I didn't want to be concerned about curbing the enthusiasm of attendees because of a professional group meeting in the facility. I wasn't about to cram people into smaller rooms in the facility to make do because of this situation. I didn't have the funds to rent out a similar space for five days. Considering these facts, I phoned the center the next morning and informed my contact that I was going to reschedule the camp.
I was very upset about the situation. Several friends and my daughter felt that  after all the hours spent organizing this project, we should not have been the ones to reschedule, instead the government agency should have had to reschedule. Many of the folks involved in the project felt the same way. So, did I.
Rescheduling means that this year we missed opportunities to share life and success skills that would help prepare attendees to believe in their dreams and with the strategies shared by the numerous presenters how to go about achieving their dreams. Rescheduling means that attendees won't have the opportunity to meet the many entrepreneurs that were going to present to them how they were able to rise above their circumstances, some similar to their own, to create a life and business they love.
They would miss out on the opportunity to hear from corporate presenters about the benefits of a college education to positioning yourself to be hired and promoted in the workplace. The entertainment presenters were going to share spiritual dance, African drumming, spoken word and as a surprise to the youth on the last day of the camp, a special media bus with video games.
I truly believe we were going to establish the standard of excellence from the start that would serve as the foundation for the success of future camps. As I considered all that had been planned, I shed some tears over what was not to be this year and then wrote the Email letter to all of the stakeholders informing them of the situation and my decision to reschedule the camp for 2015.
I Could Have Pressed the Issue, but...
If I believed that we would have been welcomed at the center after demanding that the government agency reschedule, I would have pressed the issue. Because no one else was present during the conversation I had with my contact, they weren't on the receiving end of the apathy I felt from my contact about the situation.
I was not about to, nor ,will I ever knowingly subject individuals who take part in any of the programs hosted by the Elevate Dreamers Mentoring Initiative to people or environments that don't exhibit the standard of excellence I will expect participants of our programs to model. Having worked over thirty years in jobs where I had to serve the public, I know when someone is demonstrating service excellence and when they are not. And I'm especially attuned to how any business or organization handles their mistakes. It says a lot about its values.
Next Steps...
After informing everyone involved about the rescheduling of the camp, I took some days to think about the actions that I must take moving forward to ensure the success of the annual Elevate Dreamers Academy Empowerment Camp. I share this experience and these actions with the hope that this information will help decrease your learning curve as you pursue your dreams.
Before identifying what I must do to move forward, I needed to identify the missteps I made to ensure that moving forward they are not repeated.
The three critical missteps I made:
  1. Failure to consider the worst-case scenario and having a contingency plan in place in the event the worst-case scenario occurs.
  2. Failure to develop a strategy for acquiring sponsors in the first quarter of the year versus in the second quarter of the year.
  3. Launching two big projects in the same year. Between the camp and organizing my book tour for the fall of 2014, I should have set aside monies for a PT event planner, or bartered services which would have allowed me more time to pursue sponsors for the camp in person.
Key Steps to Take When Your Dream is Delayed:
As a result of identifying my critical missteps, I've identified the following steps that anyone can apply in a situation in which their dream has been delayed:
  1. Seek and secure a mentor. Regardless of one's experience, there are pitfalls that can be avoided when embarking into new territory if you have the support and assistance from someone who has traveled the path successfully. I have business mentors but none of them have non-profit experience, so it is crucial to the success of the organization that I have a mentor within the non-profit sector.
  2. Your idea and organization need evangelists. It may be your dream, but if you don't have others talking about you, your idea or dream on a consistent basis, then your good idea may never gain the traction to build the necessary momentum to succeed. Recently, I attended a networking event where one of the founders of the organization spoke about the importance of building relationships with people who will share your contact information with others needing the services or products that you provide. We need to develop relationships with people in such a way that they are willing to share the good news of what we've done and what we're doing. I left this meeting with an understanding that I needed to grow my network by developing relationships, and hopefully friendships, with like minded folks with intention and not by happenstance.
  3. Discretionary cash is essential to the life of a dream. Consider the worst-case scenario in your situation, do you have the funds or access to funds that would allow you to weather it? If not, consider how you can create an additional stream of income that would enable you to build up your emergency savings, just in case the worst-case scenario happens. It never occurred to me that there would be a problem with the facility once I signed the contract. Of all the challenges I faced towards making the dream of this camp a reality, this one ignited a burning fire in my soul to build a self-sufficient non-profit. Not that we won't apply for grants when I receive non-profit status from the state and conduct fund raising events, but, after this experience, it is my duty and responsibility to this assignment that this organization create a funnel of products and services that provide it with multiple streams of income.
  4. Count the Cost. Be clear about the sacrifices and investment of time, energy and resources that you'll need to expend towards realizing your dreams. I don't think that there are “perfect” times for pursuing a dream, however, I do believe some moments are better than others when considering the investment of your time, energy and resources. Next year will be the organization’s first year of fund raising which will involve a considerable amount of administrative work. I'll be searching for Virtual Assistants who have worked with established non -profit agencies, so, as the board and I develop a budget for the organization, we will look to include this expense as a line item.
  5. Sharpen Your Skill set. In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey tells the story of a man who was walking through a forest when he came across a frustrated lumberjack. The lumberjack was trying to cut down a tree , swearing and cursing as he labored in vain. The man asked, “What's the problem?” The lumberjack answered,. “My saw's blunt and won't cut the tree properly.” The man asked, “Why don't you just sharpen it?” The lumberjack responded, “Because I would have to stop sawing!” The man replied, “But if you sharpened your saw, you could cut more efficiently and effectively than before.” The lumberjack, getting more frustrated retorted, “But I don't have time to stop!” The man shook his head and kept on walking, leaving the lumberjack to his pointless frustration.
    So often, once many people complete a certain level of education and develop their professional skills to their level of comfort, they place their personal and professional development on the back burner. It's the commitment to a continuous personal improvement plan that enables us to be prepared to seize and create new opportunities in our lives. I have no experience in the non-profit sector outside of volunteering and leading a few community projects while living in Wilmington, NC. In order for me to be an effective leader of a successful non-profit, I must pursue courses and relationships that will help me develop the leadership and organizational management skills essential for leading a successful non-profit organization. I'm convinced that coupled with my 20-year for-profit business leadership experience, sharpening my skill-set will equip me to build a successful non-profit organization.
It's taken me almost a week to move beyond the disappointment I felt about this situation. I immediately closed the GoFundMe account. The funds that were raised have been used to create a logo, website banner and Facebook page banners created. Once the website have been designed to my specifications, in honor of the individuals who were willing to be involved in the 2014 camp, I plan to honor them on the website. There information will remain on the website until the 2015 Team Elevate is selected.
In eight months, I will be hosting the first annual Elevate Dreamers 5k Walk/Run fundraiser. In the following month, we will be hosting the Elevate Dreamers Community Service Awards Luncheon, the second of the three annual fundraisers we will conduct for the non-profit. I am taking full responsibility for making sure that I do whatever it takes to secure the funds for these events. I will not depend on funds from outside sources, nor, will I ever be in a position of not having the funds to secure the space I need regarding events hosted by the Elevate Dreamers Mentoring Initiative.
Perhaps you started out this year with a high level of motivation towards the achievement of your dreams and goals. Maybe as the months have passed, you feel as if you've lost your Mojo and Moxy. Reconnect to the compelling why that ignited your desire towards the dream and goal in the first place. Start connecting with people on a weekly basis that are ambitious. There energy will help you reconnect to your inner-drive. Don't give up on a dream that you truly want to realize because of mistakes, missteps or setbacks. Don't get down on yourself. It serves no productive purpose. Because you have imagined a new possibility in the form of the dream you want to realize, you have within you what's needed to make it happen. Just like me, you're going to have to stretch and grow yourself to tap into a greater measure of the seeds of greatness in your potential.
You are smarter than you think. You are stronger than you give yourself credit. Now isn't the time to give up, it's time to dig deeper so that what you build stands on a firm foundation that isn't easily moved by the ups and downs of life.
Be Better than Your Best!
Jackie Capers-Brown
Founder, Grow Forward & Flourish



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