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.

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Why I Chose a Women’s College!

The Lehigh Valley, where I live, is full of colleges and universities.  Each school has its unique culture, great programs, clubs and activities.  In the heart of Allentown is Cedar Crest College, a women’s college founded in 1867.  Its campus spans many acres and is listed as an arboretum.  Its historic buildings mix with the contemporary, just as the traditions of the college have remained steadfast while welcoming change.  Every day, I walk to work and classes, to meetings and activities, and I feel truly at home and welcome.  This leads me to why I chose a women’s college.

Cedar Crest welcomed me as a continuing education student, and I found the environment to encourage growth, leadership, and success.  There are opportunities around each corner, and I have taken as many as I could over the years.  The faculty and staff want students to not only pass, but to excel, and they support creativity, initiative, and innovation.  I have found my education to be hands-on and it has focused on how to apply information gained to real world experiences.  In addition, I have found my voice at Cedar Crest.  I am now more empowered than ever, and I am ready to make changes in the world.  Not only am I ready, but I also believe that I can because Cedar crest has inspired me and instilled within me a higher level of confidence.  I believe in myself and my abilities, and I believe in each student who graduates from Cedar Crest because they have been given the tools to succeed if they choose to use them.

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Cedar Crest College creates leaders.  This is a fact.  I am an example of what a women’s college can do in a modern world.  While Cedar Crest has a strong tradition, and so much history that is worthwhile to explore, it is the future that is so exciting.  Here I am about to graduate, and all I can think about is how much love I have for this incredible institution, and how can I be there as it evolves into the 21st century.  With exciting new programs in health care, a new MBA, and a strong new writing major, I am enamored with this dynamic path Carmen Twillie Ambar, Cedar Crest College’s esteemed president, is crafting.  She is continually meeting and exceeding challenges put forth by the needs of the college and community. This passion is catching, and I want to remain involved.  I can see myself becoming just as active as an alum as I am now, and working to help the college meet strategic goals.  I am more passionate about this unique world of higher education than I ever imagined I could be, and I hope to to use my skills in this way after graduation.

I look forward to walking across that stage in may and entering into a new chapter of my life as an alum of Cedar Crest College.  I also plan to give back because so many wonderful  donors to the college have helped to support my education. My last month of college is coming to a close, and I feel like this part of my life is one of the hardest to let go.  I have been truly affected by my experiences at Cedar Crest, and I am so incredibly thankful.  I know the new chapter will be exciting, and Cedar Crest will still be a major part of my life.  Perhaps I will even pursue my master’s degree there soon.  However, the undergraduate experience is a unique one, and it will be over for me in 5 short weeks.  The lifestyle I have known, the friendships created, and the overall experience will be gone physically, and only remain as memory.  I chose a women’s college because it was right for me.  It gave me more than I could have expected.  In fact, it changed my life forever.  I would choose Cedar Crest again, in a heartbeat.

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PLEN Seminar Experience Taught Me How To Better Advocate, Lead, and Pursue My Passions!

I have not posted a blog entry recently, but I have a good excuse.  I was attending the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) seminar, Unlocking Nonprofits: Innovations and Careers!  For anyone who is not familiar with PLEN, I highly recommend you check out their site.  http://plen.org/

Cedar Crest College regularly sends a handful of students to PLEN seminars, and I was lucky to be one of the ones chosen this year.  While I will be covering some of the information I feel I received from this truly enlightening seminar throughout the week, I want to offer an overview.  PLEN is a nonprofit dedicated to empowering women as leaders.  They seek to connect women in top level roles throughout various areas of health, science, nonprofit, advocacy, government, and other agencies with high-achiever undergraduate and graduate students wishing to make their mark on the world.  PLEN provides multiple sessions with a panel of women, who not only detail their own experiences navigating their career path to reach their current positions, but who also inspire students to seek out their passion, to work hard, and to never give up.  This was one of the most inspirational experiences I have had.

These sessions were broken up by practical workshops to help students build better resumes, to enhance their LinkedIn profiles, and to gain necessary networking and interviewing skills.  Overall, I feel I walked away from this seminar with more than I could have expected.  From the pages of notes that are filled with detailed information from each speaker, to exceptional quotes, and a feeling of enhanced self-confidence, I believe PLEN went beyond the experiential, into something life-changing.

The seminar was off to a rocky start initially, because of the snowstorm that hit the east coast.  Below is a picture of Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. where PLEN headquarters is located.

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That was just the beginning, but PLEN was able to continue the seminar despite a few speakers who were unable to make it.  We also had to miss a planned field trip, but they filled that time with an activity that was also rewarding, and gave us a chance to think about the use of social media marketing as a tool in nonprofits.

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Our keynote speaker, Caryl M. Stern, President & CEO of UNICEF was one of the most incredible women I have listened to.  She spoke about her own family, and how she made decisions about her career, that while unusual, were exactly what she needed to get to a place where she was satisfied.  One quote that really stuck out to me was, “Don’t be afraid of lateral moves today to get where you want to be tomorrow” (Stern).  While we tend to think of how we can move up the career ladder, sometimes we need to stay on the same tier while moving to a different career or organization.  We should in fact, follow our passions because that is what will make us feel complete at the end of the day.

Caryl Stern was just one of the many speakers who left me with great ideas, plans, and thoughts to mull over.  The women who dedicated their time, helped to make a change in the lives of the students who attended.  Based on the wonderful group of women who attended with me, I believe they will take this knowledge and use it to make a difference in the world.  This is one thing I can say I have take away from PLEN, every person who spoke fanned the flames of passion I have for advocacy, and this passion will lead me to initiate necessary social changes.  This goes to show that as I move into a career in advocacy and leadership, I can do the same for others, and if we all did this, our world would become a much better place.  This is just one of the many bits of information I took away from PLEN.

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I will carry this experience with me, and continually look back at what I learned so I can apply these lessons to my life as my path shifts.  I will also build upon the networks that were started and hope they lead to valuable connections.  And, I will continue to work towards my goals to make a difference in the world one step at a time.

Below is a picture of the great group of women who attended this seminar, it came from the PLEN Facebook page which I have linked below.

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Thank you Cedar Crest College for your support and for sending me to this seminar, and thank you PLEN for all of the hard work that went into planning.  I was also chosen to receive a PLEN scholarship, and for this, I am truly grateful!

Make Time to Read, and You will Be Better Suited to Lead!

Society continues to rapidly change and advance with current technologies, and this has a profound effect on leadership.  As we rely more and more on our devices, picking up snippets of information from various sources, we move further away from reading larger works.  There are many people who rely on daily doses of data in small forms, and never tackle a book on industry analysis, a fiction novel, a biography of a truly accomplished and inspiring individual, or other great works.  This may not seem so bad as the bits of information form wholes eventually, but there are effects that may not be realized until later.

Reading is crucial to a greater understanding of the world around us.  There is magic that happens as we pour over pages full of information, and not just in Harry Potter novels.  This magic is an evolving of ourselves.  An informational book allows us to see a specific area, like business, from another perspective, and to gain valuable insight to the industry in which we work or hope to work.  It helps to provide skills, vocabulary, and a deeper understanding of that particular world.

Biographies and memoirs allow us to see a life, in its entirety, through transformation.  It reminds us of the nature of humanity, and the challenges that erupt for everyone, despite status, race, religion, gender, etc…  It is a chance to see how someone overcomes adversity, and how they build a future on blood, sweat, and tears.  It is an experience in itself because we can connect, even if just through the words that fill each page, with another human being and their journey of existence.  This helps leaders to become more socially adept, and to realize the complexities that make up each life.  This may lead to higher levels of empathy, and compassion.

Fiction stories, the ones that may seem the least valuable to those in a world of business, logic, and facts, may in fact, be the most critical.  The story typically takes the reader on a journey which reaches a conflict or climax, and a resolution.  There are variances, and those novels that change the rules, but there is a need for leaders to get wrapped up in novels with complex conflicts because it requires analytical thought.  Readers naturally attempt to solve the problems, and while the resolution is given, the reader can find other alternatives, and learn to accept the endings they cannot change.  There is also something that must be said of the need for escapism.  As we surround ourselves with an endless stream of facts, news, and critical information, the chance to become a part of another world, involved with fictitious characters, and relax a little, is much needed.

Every leader should create a small amount of reading time each day.  Even if it is just 20 minutes, it is highly beneficial in so many ways.  This is one positive change you can make in your life that will provide you with skills that may be unattainable otherwise.  It leads to creative thinking, social skills, and perhaps the patience that is needed to commit to something longer than 140 characters.   Make time to read, and you will be better suited to lead!

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!

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.

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.

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.

5 Steps to Becoming a Genuine and Confident Leader!

There is an assurance of character that comes when we see someone with confidence.  Not the overbearing or arrogant confidence, but the confidence that expresses the belief in oneself that is rooted in a humble person.  This is the type of person we are drawn to, and the kind of person we should be if we choose to lead, manage, advocate, and inspire.  There is a quality of candor that shines from individuals like this because they do their job while remaining true to themselves.

How can you develop this type of confidence?

1.  Experience.  As you have more experience working through challenges, and life overall, you will learn who you are and what you believe.  You have to have a firm understanding of yourself, how the world works, and how you work in the world to get to a true and mature confidence in your abilities.

2.  Listening.  You need to listen to yourself, your needs, and your desires because this is part of what motivates you and defines your goals.  You also need to listen to the people around you.  How do they react to you?  Is there something that you are doing that works well when communicating with others?  Is there something that others do not respond well to?  You must be able to study human response well.

3.  Candor.  You need to be honest with yourself and others about who you are.  People do not want to find out you are artificial, a fraud, or not truly the person you claim to be.  You should be upfront about your goals, your life, you plans, your abilities, your strengths, and your weaknesses.  Sometimes it is hard to admit your weaknesses to others, let alone yourself.  However, if you are going to become strong and inspiring, you must be genuine and honest.

4.  Learn to accept your failures as easily as you accept your successes.  Everyone want to succeed, but you have to fail first.  You have to fail many times, and then some, before you get the type of success you really want.  This means hard work, repetition, analyzing your failures, and moving on.  If you can openly accept your failures, you will find that you will learn from them faster, and you will find success much more quickly.

5.  Be open to advice.  You have to be confident in your abilities, but also recognize that you do not know everything.  You will continue to grow and learn as you lead and inspire.  It is a never ending process, and it will help you to expand.  Learn from others, including the people following you, because those lessons may turn out to be the most fruitful.

Confidence is a truly necessary asset for leadership roles, but make sure you are genuine in your confidence.  Be the person that people admire, not the one who is arrogant.  Admit fault, claim success, and speak candidly.

Leading is Adapting!

To be a leader is to be a performer.  Always in the eyes of others, and always trying to reach various audiences in a way that works for them.  It is something that takes work, and is a never-ending process of learning.

I have found that the various leadership roles I have taken on have enabled me to grow, and that knowledge is something I can carry with me into new roles.  It is also knowledge I can pass on as I am practicing them now.  Every leadership experience is different, and advice may not work in one instance, but it may work very well in another.  As a mentor, I try to express the need to evaluate the leadership role individually and the people involved.  Everyone will react to different leadership roles in varying ways.  To be a leader, one must be able to adapt, to pick up cues, and to realize that failure will happen, but it is merely an opportunity to learn how to succeed.

A leader must be a chameleon, always changing to meet the needs of the environment they are in.  The trick is, they must do this while being true to themselves.  I have worked with many people, and the personality of each individual requires me to adapt to them, to communicate in a way that will help them to realize what my message is.  It can be incredibly difficult at times, and this is why a leader needs to be passionate about their role.  If a leader believes in their message, they will do what they can to convey it appropriately.

If you are a leader and not getting the results you want, you may need to change the methods you are using to fit your audience.  You should always look for ways to improve your abilities, ways to grow, and ways to adapt!