Create Change With Simple Gestures!

We live in a time of social expression, but very little personal interaction.  We reach out through texts and social media platforms, but it almost becomes alien to reach out a hand to someone who needs us.  As we experience an explosion of technology that transforms from moment to moment, we work so hard to keep up.  Unfortunately, in the process, we lose a bit of our humanity as well.

As we tune out the world around us to embrace the one in our phones and tablets, it becomes easier to look past the homeless person on the side of the road.  We find it easier to judge people online, and that judgement can become bullying.  We see tears as cute emojis, and we begin to lose the compassion that made us human.

People struggle with depression, post-traumatic stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, and so many other mental illnesses, but do we see them as a person, or a label?  When will we finally realize that we need to come together to remove the stigma around mental illness, and open our hearts to the person who is diagnosed.  In fact, we are more willing to rally behind individuals with cancer than those with mental illness.  Why can’t we just support those who need us, whether they are physically or mentally ill?

It is time to put down the phone, even if it is just for a moment, each day.  Take that time to make a difference.  You can inspire someone who is struggling, listen to someone, smile at others and make eye contact, volunteer, donate time or money, let someone know you care, or any gesture, large or small.  Just one small act of kindness can create a ripple effect.  If you have time to send a text, you have time to make an impact.

 

IMG_2932

 

10 Steps to Becoming Extraordinary and Empowering Others!

One thing that I have noticed is that people are always seeking out that mentor, that powerful person who will lead them to accomplish great things.  This is what we do because the world is a scary place, and having someone by your side, offering advice and encouragement, can go a long way.  There comes a time when a transition must take place.  Success is measured differently by everyone, and while you may still need guidance to rise to the top, there are always ways to inspire those left behind.  By taking the world by storm and embracing your inner strength and passion, you are enabling others to do the same.  It is like a domino effect.  While not everyone will jump on the plane to soar to new heights, there are a few who will, and you can be an inspiration to help them to do this.

Plenty of people follow their dreams and become successful without a thought to how they can help others, but this can change.  Every person who chooses to empower others automatically encourages those individuals to do the same as they rise in the ranks.  It is crucial to recognize that there is potential in everyone, but not everyone has the drive and determination to channel their potential.  This is why only a select few will listen and follow your lead.  Perhaps only one or two out of a room of 100 will take initiative.  This does not mean you have failed, it means those who have excelled, were ready to, and the others are still finding their way.

How can you empower others?

1.  Believe in yourself and be confident, not cocky.  If you can be a strong leader, you will automatically encourage others to be the same.

2.  Recognize that other people are not you.  No one will take the exact same path you did, and if you expect others to do what you did, you will always be disappointed.

3.  One of the greatest skills a leader can have is the ability to listen.  If you become a mentor or have people working under you, you need to truly understand who they are, how they work, and what they believe.  You will be amazed at what you learn about others and how this can improve your approach.

4.  Take the extra time to teach others.  You can be a leader, but if you do not teach others so they too can be successful, you are not a very good leader.  You should always find a way to help others to grow.

5.  Be likeable.  Charisma is a powerful force in a great leader.  If people do not like you, they will not follow you.  You should relay anecdotes and show others your humanity.

6.  Realize who your audience is and how they learn.  If you show you truly care, they will also care about you and what you have to teach them.

7.  Be a good influence.  Make decisions based on your integrity and values.  Be someone others can rely on, and you will empower others to do the same, even when the decisions are difficult.

8.  Be willing to accept criticism.  A great leader knows they have faults, and accepts responsibility for them.  If you know what your faults are, you can change them.  This instills a higher level of respect for you as well.

9.  Help others to see their strengths and improve their faults.  If you focus only on the faults, you will not empower others, you will make them less confident.  Also, have a plan to help others improve their faults, and maintain positivity about them.

10.  Realize that you cannot change everyone or empower everyone, but when you truly care about others, and do the best you can in your leadership roles, you can change at least one life, and that is truly extraordinary.

Follow Your Passions!

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I learned a great deal from the PLEN seminar in Washington D.C.  One of the greatest lessons I took away, that was echoed by many of the speakers, was that if you follow your passions, it doesn’t matter what path you take, you will accomplish great things.  Every speaker found their way into careers that were challenging, rewarding, and personally fulfilling.  They may have started on very different career paths from degrees in English, political science, history, and so much more, but they found their way to nonprofit, advocacy, or policy work.

accomplishments

When I look at my path through education, knowing I am about to embark on an even greater adventure, I realize that the more I follow my passions, the more I will be fulfilled.  I have found that stifling passion merely leads to a life of monotony, and an existence plagued by regret.  I choose to never regret again.  I choose to take opportunities to make a difference in the world when I find them.  I choose to make opportunities where they do not currently exist.  I choose to initiate social change for the betterment of caregivers, even if it requires small steps to reap small rewards.  I choose to be an advocate for those who need one.  I choose to empower other women to lead, as these women have empowered me.  Most of all, I choose to be myself and represent my values and morals in the career decisions I make.

You have this power as well.  You can choose the person you wish to be and you can empower yourself to follow the passions that make up your spirit.  Be strong, be willing to make changes when necessary, and be open to the advice of others.  In the words of Caryl M. Stern, “Don’t be afraid of lateral moves today to get to where you want to be tomorrow.”

A Dream Remains a Dream Without Determination!

We all have dreams.  Those wonderful ideas that brighten our spirits.  The ones that we can see as though they are tangible and right before our eyes.  We have those dreams that are so much a part of us that we would no longer recognize ourselves without them.  The key is how to make those dreams a reality.  The truth is, a dream can remain a part of us until we cease to exist, but it will never be given life unless we have the determination to make them come true.  With determination, we must have true passion, knowledge, and tenacity.  This is what sets the dreamers apart from the entrepreneurs, the artists, writers, actors, executives, innovators, and more.  The people who succeed have what it takes to make their dreams real.

How can you become this person?  Here are a few steps to get you on your way to success!

1.  Know what your dream is and what it will take to attain it.  This requires a great deal of work because we can all say we wish to own our own business, but if we do not know what kind of business, who the target market is, what location will be the best, and have a detailed business plan, this business will never get off the ground.

2.  Make a list of steps with milestone dates to get you to the end goal.  This will have to be adjusted as the plan becomes more detailed, but it will give you a start and having items to check off will help to keep you motivated.

3.  Make a list of rewards that will come from your dreams.  This is crucial because it will be needed when challenges and setbacks occur.  Because, setbacks will happen, and if you have a list like this, it will help you remain focused on the end and maintain your determination.

4.  Build a support team.  You will need the best people you can have to be behind you each step of the way.  Working towards a goal like being a published author, or an executive requires a great deal of support at home.  If you have kids, you will need it even more.  You will need someone to listen to you, and someone to escape with when things get tough.

5.  Finally, remember to find fun time.  It is easy to get lost along the way while you work towards your goals, and if you forget the people you love, or the life that you have already, you will forget why you are working so hard.  Make time for fun because work will always be there.

Now, get started!

Maintaining a Positive Perspective in Social Media!

With the growth of social media, there has come a clash of personal and professional spheres.  I have noticed a large amount of people lately, who happen to have a job they are not happy with, take to social media to vent about their misfortune.  I have seen family problems aired all over Facebook and Twitter, and I have seen people share things that do not place them in a positive light.  Now, I am all for freedom of speech and maintaining liberty, but I also recognize that with this freedom comes consequences.

If you are seeking employment, you should maintain social media pages which reflect the professional side of yourself.  You should find ways to express the positive aspects of who you are, and the skills you possess.  I can honestly say that employers can and will look at your social media pages.  Not all employers, but do you really want to take the risk?  Having known quite a few people who take part in the hiring process, they take this seriously because they want individuals working for them who will represent the values their company embraces.  Potential candidates for a job position should have social media pages that present themselves as a hard-working, trustworthy individual with a moral compass.  Employers do not want to see whiny posts about life, they want to see someone with a positive outlook!

Now is the time to clean up your social media sites because even current employers may look at your pages before considering you for a promotion.  Your social media pages are a reflection of you as an individual. Scroll through your page and try to determine if this is the person you wish others to see you as.  Maintaining a positive perspective in your social media pages as well as in your daily interactions can help you to become more confident and come across as someone others can have confidence in.  Be mindful of how you present yourself in all areas of your life, and you will find it has an affect on your career and relationships!

5 Steps to Focus on Friday and Motivate for Monday!

Everyone who works a regular workweek of Monday through Friday, dreads Monday. The weekend is a nice buffer between the two days, but it gives us a sense of a freedom, a chance to remove ourselves from the humdrum of work life, so we can live life.  We may get more family time if we have kids.  We may just look forward to sleeping in.  We may find ourselves enjoying a mix of fun and catching up on work.  The point is, we usually have a choice about how we want to use our time on the weekend, so when Monday rolls around, we rebel.  How can we make our Mondays more manageable?

Here are the top 5 ways to make Monday easier for us to handle:

1.  The one thing that can be done to make Monday better is to utilize Friday a little more appropriately.  Many people fall into “it is the end of the week, it is Friday, I am so done mentality,” making Friday the least efficient day.  The problem with this is that this means it is time wasted.

2.  Tie up loose ends for the week so you are not worrying about what wasn’t completed over the weekend when you should be getting a break.  This will also keep you from starting Monday out already behind.

3.  Work ahead a little on next week’s work if you have already finished everything else you have to have done for the current week.  This could put you ahead and make your time on Monday less rushed.

4.  Make a list  of things that need to be completed, started, or planned on Monday.  Having a to-do list will make your day easier because it is already planned.  Just make sure you leave room for things that come up last minute.

5.  Prioritize Monday’s work so you will know what is the most important thing to be done first.  If you get the most difficult or dreaded items out of the way right off the bat, you will find the rest of the day will go smoother.

If we used our Friday better by focusing on the details and preparing for the next week, we could make Monday less of a monster for us.  Now is your chance to start as Friday winds down, and the weekend is looming ahead.  Plan for a better Monday today!

Find Inspiration in the Details!

How easy it is to be caught in the cyclic nature of the days, the weeks, the months, and the years.  A life becomes a ball of yarn, once linear, until it is wound up as one being that has become you in your physical form.  You embody each moment of your life.  The memories become etched in your face as you age, and the lines and spots on your hands become the insignia for a life lived.

When I think about writing, whether it is creative, for my blog, for an essay, or for business, I realize that sometimes more time is spend on the whole of the piece, and not of the sharpened edges that become crucial elements for effect or understanding.  I can throw a paper together, or write for my blog in a the 21st century style of rushing, but then, the words do not envelop the readers to make them a part of writing.  I want others to see the tiny details that will make my story come to life.  I want them to feel the wind on their face, rustling their hair as crumbled autumn leaves crunch under each footsteps.  I want them to feel the lump that forms in the throat of the parent as they discover their child is dying, and they feel as though the floor has become as unsteady as their future.

Writing, like any other aspiration, takes soul and it requires attention to detail.  When you plan for that job interview, you need to know everything you can about the job, the company, and your qualifications for the job.  Each detail will bring you closer to your goal.  If you are working to become a manager, you need to know your company inside and out.  Learn about the job, the people you work with or would manage, and it will help you to stand out.  An artist, journalist, nurse, scientist, surgeon, public speaker, and politicians all require this important skill.  It takes time and practice to study and gather moments that would have been ignored before, but each moment will make you smarter and more likely to excel.  Take a look around, and find inspiration in the details.

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.

Prioritize Your Life Based on Your Passions!

Prioritizing your life is always a great thing to do.  Everyone should have a plan, and know what their most important values, goals, people, and tasks are.  This can be daunting because people tend to become very analytical about it.  Sometimes, people become overwhelmed by the lists, and this is usually because they do not break goals down into milestones.  It is definitely a task, but it will become more accurate, exciting, and personalized if your life is prioritized based on your passions.  Everything you write on your list as a priority should, in some way, support your passions.

For example, if you are prioritizing your relationships, you would have the people you are most passionate about at the top of your list.  Children, your spouse, your parents, your siblings, and your best friends will most likely be at the top of your list.  If you have a to-do list and a conflict arises between seeing your child perform in a concert, and a team meeting at work, you may run into a problem.  This is when you need to look at what you’re most passionate about.  Is this meeting going to cost your job?  If so, even if your child is a priority, keeping your job supports that child and is probably going to take precedent.  If the meeting is not that important, then going to your child’s concert should be the priority.

This concept applies to many aspects of your life.  From career goals, educational goals, family, morals, values, and religious or cultural beliefs.  Understanding who you are means you know what you are passionate about, and those passions can be prioritized, and decisions can be made based on those priorities.  It will make tough decisions easier for you.  It will help you to reach your goals more quickly, and you will feel good about the choices your are making.  Be organized and prioritized, and you are bound to find yourself happier, more confident, and successful.

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!!!