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!

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.

Meet Goals and Measure Success With Milestones

The quickest way to fail at meeting your goals is to set the bar too high or to expect too much too quickly.  This is easily avoidable, and success is at your fingertips, if you take a few simple steps to make your goals reachable.

4 Steps to Success

1.  Make a goal or goals that are reachable.  If you overload yourself with goals that are beyond your reach, you will become discouraged.  This does not mean you cannot be a successfully published author making enough money from your royalties to live on, it means you need to start small and work your way up to the bigger goals.

2.  Come up with smaller goals that will lead you to the big ones.  These smaller goals will be easier to reach, and they give you the boost of confidence along the way.  Each time you reach a short-term or a small goal, you will be empowered to continue to work toward the big ones.

3.  Each goal should be broken into even smaller milestones with approximate dates of completion.  This helps you to stay organized, to know what step is next, and to have dates to keep you accountable to your success.

4.  Every time you meet a goal, celebrate.  This is critical because even though you may have more to do to get to the finish line for your larger goals, each goal reached is an accomplishment, and you should be proud of it.  Recognize that there are people in the world who sit back, live life passively, and never really accomplish what they dream of, and there are those who grasp each opportunity to excel.  Meeting each goal is your way of being someone who works hard to excel.

Be proactive, and take steps now to make your life better.  This is not a guarantee that you will have the perfect outcome, but if you plan well and set yourself up for success, you will find your path to reach your dreams.

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.

5 Steps to Lifelong Learning for Leaders!

Learning should never stop with the receipt of a diploma or a degree.  It should be a lifelong process.  This is especially so for leaders who take charge in their industries.  Individuals who aspire to be a leader, advocate, or working professional should take as many steps as they can to be a lifelong learner.

Why is this so important?

Because, the world is consistently changing and growing.  Technology is rapidly shifting, and all of these complex changes affect how various industries operate, and how this can change the career landscape.  To truly stand out and prepare for growth in an industry, individuals should continually educate themselves.  This can provide the competitive edge to take your leadership position, company, or industry to new levels.

Here are 5 steps to lifelong learning!

1.  If growth in your field requires a higher level degree or certification, go for it!  Gaining an education is more accessible than ever as colleges and universities add programs that cater to the busy schedules of professionals.  Utilize this opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge you need to be competitive for growth.

2.  As a leader, one of the best ways to learn is to listen to those you lead.  Ask for your employees opinion, and actually listen to what they have to say.  People will follow those they respect, and they will respect you more if you treat them with respect.  This means valuing them.

3.  Subscribe to periodicals, magazines, or other services in your industry.  This is where you will find hot topics, studies, or cutting edge information that could give you the insight you need.

4.  Regularly evaluate your skills, strengths, and weaknesses.  If you know where your weaknesses are, you can fix them.  For example, if you are looking for a job or for a vertical or lateral move, and you know you have a deficit in specific software, learn how to use it.  There are textbooks, websites, and YouTube videos that can teach you everything you need to know.

5.  Set aside 30-60 minutes each day to read about your industry.  It is amazing the amount of information that can be ascertained from this minimal amount of reading each day.  It can keep you well-informed and ready to handle complications, grow as a leader and professional, and make necessary changes to keep up with technological advances.  It can set you apart from those who are left behind.  Knowledge is power.

Take these steps to be a lifelong learner and an incredible leader!

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.”

Don’t Wait For Opportunities, Make Opportunities!

It is easy to conjure up the vivid dreams of a hopeful future, and to play through scenarios of opportunities as they come knocking on your door.  The problem with this, is the complacency that fills your life when these opportunities do not arise.  You may fall into the belief that there are no opportunities out there, accept your life as it is and become comfortable with it, and you may find little self-worth in the process.  The fact is, opportunities are everywhere.  Instead of waiting for them, you have to realize that they are waiting for you.

opportunities

If you do not seek them out, you may never move beyond the basic life you are living.  You have to become a mover.  The kind of person who looks for the needs and wants in their life, and finds ways to fulfill them.  This requires a great deal of determination, and a desire to work as hard as possible to make your dreams come true.  This is not for those who are lazy, or those who with to skim by with mediocrity.  This is what is born from innovators and leaders.  This requires a unique ability to learn from the lessons and the experiences that have made you who you are, and to build on them.

futureNow is the time to make this happen.  Discover the passions you possess, and you will be on your way to determining what will make you happy.  Then, seek it out.  It may require a return to school, a change of jobs, learning new skills, or a change of attitude.  It may require risk, and you will have to decide if the risk is worth taking.  Just remember that each person who created a successful business, designed products, wrote books, or built a successful career, had to work hard to get there.  There is no easy way to true success, it is a road that must be paved with failures, lessons, and tenacity.  Make your opportunities, instead or waiting for them.

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!