- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Founder, Grow Forward & Flourish
Author, Get Unstuck Now
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.
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:
- Failure to consider the worst-case scenario and having a contingency plan in place in the event the worst-case scenario occurs.
- Failure to develop a strategy for acquiring sponsors in the first quarter of the year versus in the second quarter of the year.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Founder, Grow Forward & Flourish
Don't try to put in what God left out. Try to draw out what God left in. That's hard enough.
Deep down, you know which of your actions increase your sense of inner strength, personal satisfaction and success. And you know which of your actions decrease your sense of passion, purpose and self-worth. You can put on a “social mask” and tell everyone, “I'm fine” but your soul knows better. You want to feel a sense of purpose, passion and personal power. You want to wake up looking forward to your day instead of dreading how it will unfold. You want to embrace life with an audacity of hope. You want to feel a passionate determination to manifest the positive change you desire in life. You want to stop circling the same mountains. You have the power to make this happen. Living your strongest life requires that you become intentional towards what you entertain, engage and empower in your life.
1. Be Mindful of What You Entertain
We live in a period of time where there is no shortage of information. From the moment we wake up to the time we lay down at night, we are constantly bombarded with information. If you want to live your strongest life, you have to be discriminating towards the information you entertain. You have the responsibility to exercise your free will and distinguish between information that strengthens your self-assurance and inspires your heart with courage to realize more of your potential, versus information that diminishes your self-confidence and fills your heart with fear and self doubt which diminishes your courage and willingness to pursue your dreams.
So many, have become accustomed to living their life on automatic pilot that they don't take into consideration how the information channels they entertain influences their beliefs about themselves, other people and life in general. Everything in life consists of energy. Every thought and word that you entertain consist of energy. So, if you subscribe to entertaining information that plant seeds of faith, courage, abundance, peace, love and harmony in your mind and heart, over time this information will influence your beliefs, identity and behavior. Likewise, if you subscribe to entertaining information which plants seeds of fear, doubt, scarcity, hate, envy and discord in your mind and heart, over time this information will influence your beliefs, identity and behavior.
The dominant information sources that you allow to influence your mind and heart has a subtle way of transforming who you are, what you believe about yourself, what you believe is possible in your life and whether you believe you have what it takes to create the change you want to experience in life. We are wise to heed the wisdom of Solomon, “Guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life (Proverbs 4:23 NIV).
2. Engage Life with Purpose
Nowadays, people make a BIG deal about finding their purpose. When I was growing up, one's purpose was simple: wherever you saw a need and you felt an unction in your heart to do something about it, you did something to bring about the change you believed to be possible. You didn't sit back wondering and waiting on someone to tell you if it was okay or even if you were born to do it. You just did it. You listened to the still small voice in your soul and allowed it to guide you as you rendered service to others. If the change you wanted to bring about was too large for you to make happen by yourself, you went out and asked others for help. Simple and effective.
Want to find “your purpose”? Begin to help meet the needs of people within your circle of influence. Allow the experiences of others fan a desire in your heart to take action about a change you want to see in the world, instead of sitting back complaining and whining about what's happening in the world. Stop thinking about what needs to be done and start doing something to create the change you want to experience in our world. Can you recall a time when you had a need or desire for something and it was never met? If so, you have an opportunity to give to others what you didn't receive so that there are less people walking around in life with a similar experience. Was there a time in your life when you believed that if you had more support you would have been more successful? Who can you support to ensure that they feel someone was there for them? Is there additional knowledge and skills that you can learn that will increase your effectiveness in helping others and living with a greater sense of purpose? There is no better time like the present to engage learning experiences that support your effort to engage life with a greater sense of purpose.
You have the freedom to be selective towards the relationships and activities you get involved in. Carefully choosing your relationships and activities based on your values and best interests is a smart habit. Keeping first things first means your life is driven by your highest values and not “busybodies” and the constant stream of “urgent” matters created by others. As you increase the number of purpose-driven relationships and activities in your life, you will experience a greater measure of well-being because these experiences satisfy the soul and provide you opportunity to grow your potential.
3. Empower Your Strengths
Strong-life practices represent the pattern of choices and behavior you've initiated in your life that inspire you with a sense of strength and power. These patterns leave clues as to what works and what doesn't work. They indicate when you're in your strength zone and when you're not. When you are in your strength zone, it's easier for you to get into the “flow.” During these moments, you feel strong positive emotions. Living with the intention of empowering your strengths require a commitment on your part to set aside time for reflection and introspection. Self-awareness and visualization techniques increase your ability to remain emotionally connected to those moments in your life which spark strong positive emotions.
Living your life on purpose should help you identify specific activities that strengthen you. It is a possibility that you have disconnected from what strengthens you out of an obligation to others. If you find that this is your truth, it is critical that you schedule time to reconnect with the strong in you. When you are disconnected from the intrinsic strength of your spirit, you are more apt to reject the truth of your inner voice. When you are connected to the strength of your spirit, you make decisions with greater confidence and in a manner that represent the truest sense of yourself.
You will know that you are operating in the strength zone when the activities you are involved in make you feel strong. You look forward to engaging these particular activities. They invigorate you. They refresh your soul, like a water well to travelers in a desert.
Living your life emotionally healthy and strong requires that you embraces mindfulness as a way of life. You are attentive to what really matters. You are present in mind, body and spirit. It evokes a desire to create change instead of waiting on change to happen. It leads you to your sweet spot. Living your strongest life increases your effectiveness and helps you realize more of your God-given potential. It empowers you to live authentically. It's not about social facades. It is what it is and that's okay. Self-acceptance is powerful. You accept your role as a co-creator of your life. Finally, you recognize the importance of staying connected to the strength deep down in your soul. So you make a pack with yourself to create daily rituals that help maintain your connection to the strong positive emotions that express your strength at it's best. Over time, these strong-life practices elevate your life and the lives of those within your influence. You learn how to draw out what God left in you.
What are some actions that you can begin to take to be more intentional towards what you entertain, engage and empower in your life? Share your comments below.
Thank you for growing the readership of Grow Forward & Flourish. Please share this article with your network. Thank you.
Enjoy this short Soul Pancake video on being intentional on making new friends.
Enjoy this short Soul Pancake video on being intentional on making new friends.
Be Better than Your Best
Founder, Grow Forward & Flourish
This is an excerpt from my new book, Get Unstuck Now: Changing Your Story Unleashes Your Power to Move On and Be Happy.
Reference: Buckingham, Marcus. Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently. 2009. One Thing Productions. Thomas Nelson. Print.
From my humble beginnings as a housekeeper, I took the motto of my parents, “play the hand you’ve been dealt” to heart. Step by step, I was able to maintain the foresight that is necessary when you strive to play a bigger game in life. Once I had a vision of what was possible, I found out the information I needed to prepare and position myself to seize opportunities to grow professionally. In this second part of this two-part series, I share more key moments that occured during the second half of my career with Marriott that challenged me to face my fears, eat humble pie, inspired my passion for developing leaders and enabled me to realize a dream that many believed to be impossible. If you missed part one you can read it here.
Prepare Yourself for the Next Level
Soon after my promotion, I started to have discussions with the HR Director about my aspirations with the company. Although I wasn't in a supervisory position, I was allowed to take advantage of several supervisory and manageement training classes that he and his staff conducted at the hotel.
After constantly questioning him about specifics related to managing a housekeeping deparment, my housekeeping manager began to train me on ordering housekeeping supplies, contacting and building relationships with vendors, how to read a P & L statement and understand how managing our labor cost and expenses enabled us to meet our department's budget. My first housekeeping manager saw something in me before I recognzed it. His patience and willingness to train me in areas outside the scope of my job responsibilities helped to prepare me for an unexpected opportunity that occured two years after he left because of a promotion.
In 1998, Marriott broke ground for its first Courtyard hotel in Columbia. I was encouraged by our HR Director to apply for one of the hotel's housekeeping supervisor positions. I applied and was offered one of the positions. It was a bittersweet promotion. I wanted to become a housekeeping manager in the full-service division. After being advised by the HR Director about the growth occuring in Marriott's limited lodging divisions, I joined the staff at the Columbia Courtyard NE location at the beginning of 1989 as one of its housekeeping supervisors. Seven months later, my boss decided that he and his wife were going to return to Florida. I was promoted into the housekeeping manager's position. I traveled to Augusta, GA for two weeks of training before taking over the responsibilities of the department.
After recognizing the advancement opportunities within the Courtyard division, I made copies of all the department manager's position description. Just as I had while working in the full-service division, I used them as a developmental guide to prepare myself to take on more responsibility within the hotel.
Don't Assume that Your Success is Guaranteed
Soon after my housekeeping management promotion, I learned an invaluable lesson that serve as a defining moment in my development as a leader. Mary, a member of the housekeeping staff, met with the hotel's GM and informed her that I was speaking to her and other staff members in a disrespectful manner. I was called to my boss's office to discuss the matter. After listening to Mary, it became clear to me that I couldn't assume that because I had worked with this same staff as a supervisor that I had it made in the shade. I apologized to Mary and promised her that I would do better. I decided to schedule one on one meetings with each staff member to get their feedback on how I could be a better manager.
Humility Improves Your Relationships
During each meeting, I explained to each team member that I needed his or her help in becoming a better manager. I asked each person to write down on an index card the one thing that he or she believed I needed to STOP, START and CONTINUE doing as their manager. This was not an easy thing to do, but I struck gold. Out of these meetings, I realized that I had a lot of growing to do to become an effective and successful Marriott manager. I used the feedback from these meetings to tailor my approach towards my team members. As the staff recognized my commitment to making changes in my behavior, they in turn were much more receptive to my suggestions on how we could improve our performance as a team.
Rally Support in the Face of Difficulty
My GM recognized my commitment to becoming a better manager. I was given the opportunity to be a member of the opening task force team for the Raleigh Airport Courtyard. I was required to fly to Raleigh for this assignement which meant I had to face my fear of flying. This experience taught me that I would have to face my fear of the unknown to achieve my goal of becoming a Marriott GM. A few months later, I was promoted into the restaurant manager's position. I traveled to Spartenburg, SC for two weeks of training before taking on the responsibilites of the department.
The department's customer service scores improved, however I struggled for months to meet the restaurant's budget. My inability to do so created a lot of tension in my relationship with my new GM. For the first time since I started working for the company, I started to think about resigning. I shared my concerns with a former manager who had become a GM. Soon after this conversation, our regional manager saw to it that I receive additional training. The extra training and mentoring I received enabled me to improve my performance and my relationship with my new boss.
Aspire to Build Up those Around You
When Marriott went through a reorganization of the Courtyard division in the early 90's, I was promoted into the hotel's Operation Manager's role which consisted of managing the housekeepng and restaurant departments. I was given the opportunity to become a member of the Courtyard Mid-Atlantic Diversity team. I enrolled as a part-time student at Midland's Technical College to expand my business management skills. I had been able to accomplish a lot with a high school diploma and on the job training. As much as I loved my job, I realized I would need additional skills and knowledge to maintain my career progression. Besides, I had always believed that I would return back to college once my kids got older. The more I grew as a leader, the more I focused on training staff members to take on additonal responsibilities. I began to mentor several staff members who had hopes of becoming leaders within the company. I wanted to create a legacy of developing successful leaders.
Embrace Your Experiences Wholeheartedly
In 1994, my GM enrolled me into the Dale Carnegie Leadership Course. One of the perks of attending this program was that students were able to assist in another class. I was given the opportunity to be a teacher's assistant during the next 12 week class. The six months I spent immersed in the Dale Carnegie Leadership Course increased my understanding of the role our emotional intelligence skills have on our level of personal and professional success. While enrolled in the Dale Carnegie Leadership Course, I began to tutor one of the housekeeping team members for her GED. This young lady had lost custody of her children. She was making efforts to get her life back on track so that she could regain custody of her children. When she signed up for a home through Habitat for Humanity and was accepted into the program, I helped her complete the 500 sweat equity hours for her home. I didn't broadcast my actions to my new GM, however, he got wind of it and told his boss. Our new regional manager showed up to support our efforts on the day that her house was dedicated and she received the keys to her new home.
Thee months later, I was recognized at our quarterly manager's meeting as the Manager of the Quarter for our area. Afterwards, I spent two weeks in Greensboro for front desk management training and in December of 1994 I was promoted into the hotel's Assistant Manager position. On February 9, 1995, I was promoted into the GM's position at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott in Wilmington, NC.
Your Story is Still Unfolding
It doesn't matter where you are right now in your career or the conditions of your personal life, if you want to be better, do better and experience better, it is a real possibilty that you can make it happen. I've written this article because I'm in contact with a lot of people, young and older, who seem to be under the assumption that the success they see other people accomplish is beyond their reach. I don't buy into this story. I believe that if we are willing to truly work hard and work smart on a consistent basis to produce results relevatnt to what we want in life, we increase our chances of succeeding beyond our own expectations.
You will experience in life what you are willing to be in life. If you are willing to be successful at what you are striving to accomplish in life, you will take it upon yourself to learn and become the person that can manifest the reality that you want. Will it happen over night? In most cases, it will not. But that's the joy of the journey. You get to be the co-creator of your personal evolution. You get to witness and celebrate the small wins that you're making on the road to navigating what you deem to be better exeperiences in your life.
Don't put off celebrating your progress, no matter how small. When you face difficulty seek out those who will support your endeavors. Make sure that you are consistently interacting with people who are striving to make their lives stand for something. It doesn't have to be great in the minds of others, it just has to be great in your mind. Don't fall into the trap of believing that bigger equals great. Martin Luther King Jr. Stated, “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.” Whenever you are contributing value in the lives of others, regardless of your position on your job or the state of your personal life, you are expressing the seeds of greatness within your potential. Stop underestimating your value. You are a person of great worth. You deserve all the goodness that you are willing to do what it takes to experience in life.
Actionable steps you can take to set yourself up for success include:
- Begin to prepare yourself for the next level.
- Don't assume that your success is guaranteed.
- Humility improves your relationships.
- Rally support in the face of difficulty.
- Aspire to build up those around you.
- Embrace your experiences wholeheartedly.
You can read part one of the series here. It is my hope that by sharing specific details of my story you will be inspired to tap into a greater measure of the seeds of greatness in your potential. You can do this. You are worthy of experiencing good in life. You matter.
If you know someone that this article could help, please share it with them. I would appreciate it.
Dare to Be Great!
Founder, Grow Forward & Flourish
Note: You can be a catalyst for positive change in the lives of youth young adults and single parents residing in low income households by supporting the Elevate Dreamers Mentoring Initiative. All proceeds from my Ebook Lead to Succeed go towards funding the mentoring initiative. Click on the link for additional details and to purchase. Thank you in advance for your support.
When you think about an overcoming the odds success story, visions of a single mom with two children working as a housekeeper don't usually come to mind. However, this humble beginning fueled my passionate determination to transform the trajectory of the lives of my children and myself.
I never imagined that at the age of twenty, I would be an unwed mother, living on welfare and food stamps in a government subsidized apartment. I knew that the conditions of my life was a reflection of the choices I'd made, however, I couldn't accept that it was a reflection of the best that I could do for my children. They deserved better. I had to expect more of myself if we were going to live better. There was no calvary of soldiers coming to save us.
Be Cautious In Giving Authority
We have to be careful about the opinions and beliefs that we buy into. I would often hear experts on the evening news recite findings from research that concluded that “the children of teen mothers would have a bleak future at best.” I would get pissed off each time I heard someone expressing a doom and gloom future for my children. I understood that they were quoting statistics but that didn't stop me from wondering to myself, “How the hell do they know what type of future my children will have?” “They don’t know anything about me or my children.” These “experts” had no idea of the burning desire in my heart to get a full-time job so that I could get off of welfare and someday move my children in a home of our own. I refused to lend my agreement to the statistics they were sharing that painted such a bleak future for my children and me.
The Decision to Redefine My Limiting Beliefs
I decided to end my allegiance to the limiting beliefs that I had about myself as a result of the poor choices I'd made. I decided to challenge the limiting beliefs in the story that I was telling myself about who I could become, what I was strong and smart enough to handle and what we were worthy of experiencing. I begin to see our circumstance as a temporary condition versus a permanent situation.
Be a Person of Excellence
When I started working as a housekeeper at the Columbia Marriott hotel, I never imagined that it was possible for me, a college drop out and single mother of two children, to experience the explosion of personal and professional growth that came as a result of working for Marriott. However, that's exactly how my story goes.
During my probationary period as a housekeeper, I discovered that the company encouraged its employees to pursue advancement opportunities that enabled them to grow and develop their skills. This information inspired my heart with hope. I made up my mind that I would do everything in my power to demonstrate to my boss's that I was capable of being and doing more.
First things first, I had to get through my probation period. Cleaning eighteen guest rooms in a eight hour shift to meet Marriott's standard was not as easy as I had expected it to be. For almost a month, I cleaned rooms on my lunch break to meet the production requirement. Taking a lunch break wasn't nearly as important to me as exceeding the standards of the job. I cleaned my assigned rooms as if my deceased Mother was going to be checking into the guest room. I started to leave personal notes in the guest room, thanking them for the opportunity to serve them and asking them to leave me a note about any special needs they had during their stay. I filled up ice buckets for those staying over for more than one night. And, I asked them to fill out a comment card about their stay on the day of departure.
Be Willing to Embrace the Unknown
The number of comment cards with my name on them increased which got the attention of my managers and the hotel's GM. A month after my probationary period ended, the housekeeping department administrative assistant resigned and I was promoted into the position. Initially, my promotion didn't sit well with several employees and my boss's boss. They didn't think that I deserved the position since I had only worked for the company a few months. In spite of the opposition that he was receiving over my promotion, my housekeeping manager stood by his decision to promote me.
Demonstrate Sincere Concern for Others
After my initial training for the job, I took it upon myself to read the department's SOP manuals so that I could become familiar with the responsibilities of a housekeeping manager. I made a copy of the housekeeping manager's position description and used it as a guide to develop the skills necessary to be a housekeeper manager. I took responsibilty for developing supportive relationships with my co-workers and my boss's boss. For example, I was responsible for completing the department's weekly work schedule, I realize that we had enough staff to rotate weekends so that each employee could have at least one entire weekend off each month. This meant a lot to the staff, especially the single mothers.
Build On What Works
I was responsible for the hotel's lost and found items. When guests called back regarding these items, I returned those that were found by a hotel team member with a comment card and a letter thanking them for staying at the hotel and how we looked forward to serving them when they returned to Columbia. I had little day to day contact with hotel guests because the housekeeping offices are in the basement of the hotel. A funny thing begin to happen. The guests that I was able to return items back to started to fill out the comment cards I'd included with their item and mail them to the corporate address on the outside of the form. Although I had minimum contact with guests on a day to day basis, I began to receive just as many comment cards with my name on them as employees having direct contact with guests throughout their shift. After several months, this got the attention of my boss's boss. He nominated me for employee of the month and I won.
Go Above and Beyond
During this time, I had taken it upon myself to become a literacy tutor. I wanted to be able to tutor one of my co-workers. I found out that he had been placed in a special education class most of his years in school. Although he had received a high school diploma, he was having a difficult time reading and understanding the checklist of his daily houseman duties. I've been reading since the age of four. I couldn't imagine my life without being able to read. Helping him improve his reading ability was one of my top ten accomplishments working for Marriott.
Another one of my top ten achievements with the company occurred that same year when I was able to rally the support of various team members throughout the hotel to conduct the hotel's first Thanksgiving food drive. In partnership with the Salvation Army, I received the names of fifteen families needing assistance from the agency and with the help of my new boss and his girlfriend, we loaded up the Thanksgiving boxes in his van and delivered them to each family on Thanksgiving eve. I was humbled by this experience. Two years prior, my children and I had received a Thanksgiving basket from the Salvation Army. The help that I received at that time inspired me to be a huge supporter of Marriott's United Way Campaign. To my surprise, at the end of 1986, I was recognized as the hotel's employee of the year.
I encourage you to take time to consider the dominant beliefs that's driving your present behavior towards your personal and professional growth. Living your life on automatic pilot has its benefits, however, when you short change yourself from living the life that your soul craves, its time to raise your self-awareness. It is only through self-awareness can you awaken to your unique ability. It is only through self-awareness can you begin to make the connection to the beliefs driving your identity, behaviors and life experiences. And, it is only through self-awareness that can you begin to transform any beliefs and behaviors that are not in alignment with your divine destiny.
Actionable steps you can take to set yourself up for success include:
- Be cautious in giving authority.
- Decide to redefine your limiting beliefs.
- Be a person of excellence.
- Be willing to embrace the unknown.
- Demonstrate sincere concern for others.
- Build on what works.
- Go above and beyond.
Tomorrow in the second part of this two-part series, I share more key moments that occurred during the second half of my career with Marriott that challenged me to face my fears, eat humble pie, inspired my passion for developing leaders and enabled me to realize a dream that many believed to be impossible. It is my hope that by sharing specific details of my story you will be inspired to tap into a greater measure of the seeds of greatness in your potential. You can do this. You are worthy of experiencing good in life. You matter.
What resonated with you in this article? Share your comments below.
Thank you for being a part of the growing readership of Grow Forward & Flourish. I value your feedback so that I'm serving my community with an online experience that's relevant to your ability to grow forward and flourish in life. Please share this article with your network. I would appreciate it.
Founder, Grow Forward & Flourish
Author, Get Unstuck Now
Note: You can be a catalyst for positive change in the lives of youth, young adults and single parents residing in low income households by supporting the Elevate Dreamers Mentoring Initiative. All proceeds from my Ebook Lead to Succeed go towards funding this mentoring initiative. Click on the link for additional details and to purchase . Thank you in advance for your support.