From Victim To Victor: Be an Initiator of Change!

We live in a volatile world, an ever evolving landscape of humanity, and we work in environments where the masses merge to create a common goal.  There are problems that exist everywhere and incorporate major issues like gaps in treatment and pay stemming from differences in gender, generation, race, education, economic status, and so much more.  These conflicts create hostility, and this bleeds into the fabric of corporate, personal, and social relations.  Is this how we wish to live?  Do we want people in 100 years to view us as a century of turbulence?

While it may be impossible to escape victimization at times, it is possible to choose to be a victor.  You see, victimization happens to us, but we do not have to become a victim.  We can take our unique perspective of our experience, and utilize it to initiate change in the world.  We can choose to grieve over the loss of who we were before we were victimized and channel this into empowerment.  We can choose to accept what we deserve and nothing less.  We can choose to stand up to victimization and say it is wrong.  We can choose to not victimize others in the process.  This is what makes us victors.

There are statistics that clearly show discrepancies in pay for people of different races and between men and women.  Is this acceptable to us as a society in 2015?  Have we not learned from a past riddled with the oppression of others to rise above?  I know of people who have suffered from age discrimination, but it would be nearly impossible to prove.  What has happened to our values and morals?  Business ethics is still taught in college, yet it is conveniently dismissed when it goes against the bottom line.

Now is the time for our collective generations to come together and to make change that is positive for our personal and professional lives.  If we can learn to stop victimizing, and to stop accepting the acts of victimization that occur each day, we all win.  We can all be victors in a society that moves to build a brighter future.

Does this sound impossible?  Absolutely!  With so many people unwilling to change, it is not realistic.  However, you have the choice to be a victim to ignorance, or to become the victor.  Each person can make a difference, even if it is a small one, and many small ones may be what sparks the bigger changes. You have the choice, and by recognizing this, you take accountability for your actions.  Choose wisely!

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5 Steps to Forging a Fantastic Future!

At some point in their lives, everyone hits a dead end, finds themselves in a rut, or feels trapped in a life they did not plan for themselves.  This is just one aspect of life.  It can be easy to let these periods in life stifle the potential you have, and this is why it is crucial to pull yourself out of the past.  Whatever it is that is holding you down can be managed, and there is always a way to make your life better.  It will not be easy, but it will be rewarding.

Here are 5 steps you can take to forge a fantastic future:

1.  Let go of the past.  If you hold on to mistakes, regret, or long for something or someone that is already gone, you will never see the road that is right in front of you.  If you are plagued by regret, realize that every decision you made had led to you become a stronger individual.  You have learned lessons from your mistakes and you need to forgive yourself so you can move on.  If you missed incredible opportunities because you were afraid, you are still missing them because you are spending time thinking about the ones that are long gone.  The only way to have a great future is to let go of the past.  The good, the bad, and ugly.  Learn from it, and move on.

2.  Determine where you are in your life right now, and why it is not working for you.  You cannot possibly know where to go next if you won’t accept your current position and what is wrong with it.  If you are not happy, something is wrong.  It could be your career, your family, your health, or your dreams.  You are the only person that knows what you truly want in your life, and you need to evaluate it thoroughly before you can make changes.

3.  Determine what your dreams and goals are.  Odds are that if you are not happy, you have at least one thing wrong in your life that needs to be fixed.  Most likely, there is more than one.  The only way to start initiating change is to understand what you really want in life, and to make a list of your goals and dreams.  These are very different.  I dream of being a successful writer, making enough money to live comfortably on, and speaking to people about social issues.  However, I need short-term and long-term goals to get me there.

4.  Prioritize your dreams and set dates to accomplish them.  You cannot commit until you put a timeline to something.  I can dream all I want, but my dream will never come true if I do not make it a priority and hold myself accountable enough to reach each goal along the way.  This is one of the most difficult parts because it requires a great deal of work and dedication.  You cannot expect the world to hand you success on a platter, and you must put everything you have into making your dreams happen.

5.  Reevaluate and remind yourself of your dreams regularly.  You need to check in every week, every two weeks, or at least monthly.  Look at your progress, make sure you are on track, and if not, remind yourself of why it is important to you.  If you change your mind along the way, that is fine, you can change your list if necessary.  If you run into complications, you may want to remind yourself each day.  Write it down, get a picture that represents your dreams or make a chart that you can look at each day.  Some people will need more encouragement than others.

The important thing to remember is that as you move along your journey, you are learning and evolving.  Your thoughts, ideas, and goals may evolve as well.  Do not hold onto something if you lose the passion for it, let it go.  But, when you do reach a goal and eventually behold a dream, enjoy it.  Be proud of each accomplishment along the way because they represent a person moving forward in their life, not someone letting life pass them by.

Determining Your Own Fate!

It is common to fall into the hands of statistics, becoming a martyr, and following a predetermined destiny.  Many individuals look to see how likely those from the lower-income class are to go to college, what the statistic is for women to move from middle management into the executive level, or what the differences are of various cultures, races, and backgrounds when it comes to success later in life.  We can use these numbers to place ourselves into distinct categories.  We can play the game, calculating our likelihood of success at only 20%, therefore, a waste of time to go to college.  Or, we can determine our own fate.

I do not deny that those in lower classes have less access to the same tools and benefits that middle or upper class individuals may have.  This can cause a greater struggle, but I also believe there are those who will fight to rise above. Just as someone in a higher income family may turn to addictions or crime and lose everything.  The determining factor in the end, is choice.  While statistics can provide a great deal of data to help us understand the world better and to figure out what changes to make, there is something deeper that comes from within an individual that determines if they will follow the statistics, or become an outlier.  An outlier stands outside of the norms, and in many cases, this can be a great thing.  For those who are condemned to a life of poverty by statistics, being an outlier changes their life for the better, and can perhaps lead to a better life for their children.

I have been faced with numerous challenges, and I am still struggling through them, but I have pushed hard to get to where I am, and I now hold two degrees.  Degrees that ten years ago, I would have never believed possible for me to attain.  Yet, I have them, and I am now determined to keep moving toward my dreams and to be successful.  I know I will be, and I am an outlier.  I am proud to be an outlier.  I fully believe that people choose their fate.  I see more people complaining about where they are at in their lives on Facebook each day, and I wonder why they are not taking steps to change their life.

A degree can only take someone so far, it is the graduate’s responsibility to prove they have retained the knowledge and can use it in a career.  Someone who wants to write should write each day.  They may not be published, but they are growing by writing regularly.  Writing a blog can be beneficial to someone who needs to stand out for their writing, business, or to showcase photography, travel, food, or art.  There are so many steps people can take to shine, but these opportunities must be grasped, or they slip away.

I challenge everyone to stop letting statistics define their lives and futures.  Each life is an opportunity to make change, to give back, to contribute, and to become something.  Determine what you want your life to be, and go for it.  Confining yourself to the limit of averages does more harm than good.  Be an outlier.  Be the woman who is an executive.  Be the person in poverty that rises above.  Live the life you dream about, then give back.  Encourage someone else to be an outlier too.  It has to begin somewhere. And the glorious ripple that stems from positive change can make all the difference.

Taking on the World Post-Graduation!

The past six years of my life have been dedicated to academics and growth based on education combined with leadership.  I have found my self-confidence grow as I became more knowledgeable about the world and my place within it.  I have led student organizations, attended conferences, found success with my writing, and discovered my strength in public speaking.  I became passionate about advocacy, and learned ways in which I could use my skills to make a difference.  This is what I gained with my education because it was a strong liberal arts education with a focus on creating women leaders.

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Now, I am a graduate.  I was proud to be the 2015 commencement student speaker at Cedar Crest College, and when I walked across the stage, I knew it was symbolic for walking into a new phase in my life.  Graduation is exhilarating, but also an emotional time.  One journey is ending, and this is bittersweet because while endings lead to beginnings, life will never be the same.  A few days later, the realization of that loss is prevalent, and fellow graduates begin new phases of their life, or post panicked comments on Facebook because they do not know where they are going.

I am in the job search mode as many of my friends are, but I know my college provided me with the skills I need to be successful.  That, combined with my confidence and determination, will lead me to a rewarding life.  I know I may start in a position that is not what I hoped, but I also know I may very well find the position that will be rewarding and lead to a career I will be happy with.  This is the roller coaster of post-graduation.  It is the next phase, which requires just as much work and dedication as the previous educational phase, if not more.  It is the time for graduates to prove themselves.

While this can be a time of anxiety and fear, it can also be an exciting adventure and another learning experience in life.  For those fellow graduates out there, those who are searching for their place in the career world, do not forget your worth.  Remember that you worked hard for your degree/s and you should embrace this new challenge just as you embraced the challenges of college.  Be proud of your accomplishments, and bravely put yourself out there.  Be confident and explore what this new path has to offer!

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Need Inspiration? Take a Class!

I have found myself losing inspiration at various points in my life, but over the past few years, the inspiration has been growing.  I can honestly attribute this to the classes I have been taking.  Continuing my education was one of the best choices I have made in my adult life.  Of course, having two special needs children at home made this decision a little more difficult, but with my incredible husband as my partner in crime, we have been able to accomplish great feats.  On nights I am in class, he handles the daily duties, dinner, and helps the kids with homework.  He also handles the job of referee as the children are bound to fight.  The point is, we made this work, and it has been an incredible journey.

I am now about to graduate with dual bachelor’s degrees, and I have found the various topics of the classes I have taken have provided me with a wide range of perspectives.  I am more open to topics I would have never considered before.  I can see the world in many ways, and I am truly inspired.  I do not struggle to find topics to write about because ideas pour from me everytime I sit down to write.  I can write in various genres and I enjoy writing more than ever.  I have also found that attending educational  and leadership conferences, or really any conference, can incite even more inspiration.  I always walk away from conferences and classes invigorated and ready to change the world with my words.  That may be an exaggeration, but I do believe words have great power, and I believe in my ability to affect change, even if it begins on a small scale, is possible.

If you are struggling with your creativity, if you need inspiration, take a class, go to a conference, and surround yourself with new perspectives.  Look at the world through the eyes of another.  You can even do this through good literature.  Open your eyes, your mind, and your heart to the world beyond yourself and you will find there is more to consider, to question, and to write about than you could have imagined.

Why “Why Not” Became the Question to Change My Life!

It seems so simple to say those two words, “why not?”  I had never really considered the power behind these words until they were spoken to me in a new way, in the way that would change my life.  Everyone has an inspirational story, but it is the inspiration of others that helps us to grow and become more.

When I was in my early 20s, I was in a difficult point in my life.  I had left an abusive relationship, was getting divorced, and was a single mom.  I had to find my way out of the pit of depression brought on by years of abuse.  I had to find the strength to juggle work and caring for my child.  I had to learn how to go through the motions each day.  Yet, I knew I had so much potential that was burning inside of me.  It was there, just waiting for me to let it out.

One day, I was having lunch with my mother, and I was telling her about the Harry Potter series and how much it had inspired me.  I was always a bookworm, and I loved every genre.  From the fantasy worlds that gripped me with their magic, to the tragic tale of Les Miserables, I was devouring books as a child and teenager.  When I discovered Harry Potter, I escaped the monotonous life I was in and found my passion for stories again.  I told my mother how I wished I could take the stories I had in my head, and write a book like Rowling did.  Then, it happened.

She asked me “why not write a story?”

It took me a few moments to think about it, and I couldn’t come up with a good enough reason.  What was stopping me?  It was my disbelief in myself.  I never thought I could do it.  I did not believe I could possibly accomplish this feat of writing a novel.  So, I challenged myself to write a novel, and I did.  While the story is great, it needs work, and I realized I needed to go back to school, grow, learn, and pursue my passions.  Now, when I think I wish I could do something, I ask, “why not?”  This simple question has changed my life, and I hope it can inspire others to change theirs.

Thank you mom!!!

Leaders Embrace Change!

How often do employees have great ideas only to have them pushed aside by their superior?  How many times do companies find they continually under perform when competition is performing well?   How many managers focus on how things have always been done and steer clear of any possibility of change?

This is a common problem because as human beings, we seek what makes us comfortable.  However, when you are a leader, representing a shared goal, you have to be willing to embrace change.  Flexibility and being open to other options allows you to meet market demands, technology transitions, and employee expectations.  Embracing change also means taking a risk in the hopes of improvement.  This means change can lead to both good and bad results, but a good leader is open to both outcomes.

The next time you find yourself sticking to what is comfortable, step outside of your comfort zone and attempt to make a change.  Realize that without this evolution, improvements cannot be made.  Even if it means scrapping a program you created, letting go of a policy you made that was applauded at the time, or replacing equipment you have worked with since the birth of your company, you must learn to let go to grow.  Leaders understand this, and embrace changes with enthusiasm, hope, and flexibility.