This too shall pass applies to our current state of getting to the other side of the Corona Virus epidemic. By all expert reports, it isn't a matter of if but rather when. The virus simply has to run it's course of affecting as many cells as it possibly can. In thinking about it's end the other day, I couldn't help but also think about how different will my life be once it ends. Will I go back to normal? Will I forget all the lessons embedded within this real life apocalyptic movie? Will I go back to not taking the time to smell the roses? Is running around from one thing to the next really as fulfilling as what I have told myself?
Here is what I know for sure and what I hope for and will commit myself to:
Pay attention to the lyrics!
In the famous words of Sojourner Truth..."Ain't I A Woman?" I'm inclined to reflect on my feelings about being a woman. Honestly, I have never thought about it, which seems odd. The first thing that comes to mind is, I'm honored to be a woman. There is something quite special about it. I would never want to trade places with a man. As a woman I can be and am both weak and strong. I am a di·chot·o·my. I am emotional and usually in touch with my emotions. I am by nature an overseer. I am a nurturer. I am hilarious and find almost nothing better than a good belly laugh. Seriously as women, where would be without the ability to laugh at ourselves and others. I am sensual and creative, a lover of all things beautiful and wonderfully made. I am an organizer of people, places, and things. I am innately intuitive. I am a detector of bullshit and keenly aware of it's aroma and stench. I love that I get to be a friend, a companion, a lover, a daughter, sister and a partner to all who come to meet me on this journey of life.
During this Women's History Month, I'm grateful for all the gifts of being a woman. I'm grateful for the joy, pain, grief, growth, challenges, victories, barriers, passions, compassion, empathy, sympathy, laughter, kindness and love. Most of all I'm grateful for the opportunity to become more whole everyday. I don't know what it means to be a man. I'll never know what it feels like but for the record, there isn't a Men's History Month so I can only assume our gender is so fabulous that we needed our own month to reflect on how awesome we are.
If you are like me and have never thought about what it means to be a woman, I would encourage you to take a moment, sit back in all your glory and reflect on what it means to be a woman to you. Kudos to Time Magazine for recognizing 100 women in commemorating this time of year. These are the famous ones, the most well known, but we are many and we are in every town, city, state, and country. We are fabulously flawed and we are the secret sauce. Journey onward my sista, journey onward! I'm rooting for you today and forevermore. Now in the famous words of Chaka Khan, " I'm Every Woman, It's All In Me!" #iamyou #youareme #teamwoman
If You’re Feeling Drained, Here’s Why Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries,
INSEAD Distinguished Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change
Pay attention to your personal “energy barometer” as it reflects your inner happiness.
When I ran into Dirk, a banking CEO whom I had known for some time, I asked him why he looked so down. After a short silence, he responded with an avalanche of words. He had been feeling exhausted. At work, he had too many meetings, often with people he didn’t like. Given his position, Dirk felt his only option was to masquerade as a positive person. But it wore him out. He was also suffering from insomnia and the little sleep he managed to get was filled with nightmares. Clearly, Dirk wasn’t in very good mental shape. I asked Dirk if he had ever used a diary to record his daily activities. Perhaps such a diary would illuminate what drained – and energized – him. He could even identify salient positive and negative themes on this self-created “energy barometer”. Awareness of the situations that affected him negatively would help him find ways to pre-empt them. My encounter with Dirk made me consider the bad habits and situations that often drain our energy. They can beset all of us. But do we recognize the symptoms and are we willing to do something about them?
Common energy drainers
To find out more about what can zap energy, I have been asking the executives in my annual CEO seminar at INSEAD about the habits, situations or mind-sets that affect their mental health. The list was an interesting one.
Addiction to the internet and other passive media. Unsurprisingly, most of the executives complained about being addicted to the internet. Not only did the endless stream of communications stress them out, they also admitted that they spend a considerable amount of time on social media and other online activities, distracting them from their primary tasks. In the same vein, some said that they spend hours mindlessly watching television or streaming services. Inability to master one’s own time. Many executives confessed that they were ineffective at setting priorities. They had a hard time deciding what was important and sticking to their schedule. They also had problems setting boundaries and felt their time was at the mercy of other people’s priorities. Interestingly enough, while some executives complained about a lack of structure in their lives, others said that their lives were over structured – with little freedom to pursue energy-giving endeavors.
Excessively high expectations. Some of the executives often felt like they were trying to please everybody. Yet an even greater number of executives succumbed to perfectionism. They were very tough on themselves and unable to accept the idea that they could make mistakes (as a way to grow and develop). Instead, some of them were masters at tormenting themselves, stressing over things they couldn’t control. Continuing unproductive relationships. Another common complaint was having to deal with negative people. Some executives explained how exhausting it was to play the role of a “bin” in which everyone dumps their problems. Others noted they were oversensitive to certain people who knew how to push their buttons and were difficult to avoid, like a boss or a family member. This observation led some to realize that they had stayed too long in an unhappy relationship. Although it drained them, they didn’t necessarily know how to get out of it. Poor eating habits. Given their constant pressures, many executives found themselves with poor eating habits. They ate too much fast food or ate excessively to soothe themselves. Indeed, quite a few of them had serious weight problems. Others told me that they self-medicated (e.g. by taking drugs and drinking excessively) to numb the pain of their taxing emotional labor. “Hurry sickness” Many executives shared that their workload and hectic business travel schedules made them prey to “hurry sickness”. Just like White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, they always felt frantic, like time was running out. Frankly speaking, a number of executives admitted that many of their energy-draining activities served to avoid bigger issues in their lives. They preferred to resort to “manic defense”, a behavior pattern whereby people try to distract themselves with a flurry of activities or by faking the opposite of the thoughts or feelings plaguing them. Some added that they had a tendency to bury unpleasant issues into mental “boxes”. Of course, these issues tend to resurface in uglier, even more energy-draining ways, at the most unexpected time.
Committing to correcting the imbalance
Aside from sapping your energy, all the activities and situations mentioned take up the days, hours and minutes that could be devoted to invigorating ones. What does your “energy barometer” look like? Do some of the themes above resonate with you? If so, what are you doing about it? You could restructure your life to focus on energy-boosting activities, such as:
Aristotle wrote about eudaimonia, a concept referring to the “highest human good” and describing a life aimed at maximizing happiness through virtue. A deeply meaningful life is achieved by engaging with others – family, friends and fellow citizens – in mutually beneficial activities. The Greek philosopher further drew a distinction between eudaimonia and hedonia, which is the pursuit of subjective well-being via the pleasures afforded by food, sex and social interactions. He suggested that both hedonistic and eudaimonic pathways are crucial to living a happy, fulfilling life.
If well-being and happiness are eluding you, remember to put on your oxygen mask first before assisting others, just like you would on a plane in an emergency. In terms of energy, we must all take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. Martyrdom or always keeping up a brave front are not the way to go. There is nothing weak about being “less than perfect” and asking for help. Opening up about your unhappiness, is the courageous first step towards replenishing your precious energy.
Happy New Year! Can you believe it's 2020, I cannot. I have always loved the New Year. I love the fact that I get to start over, start anew, start again. There is something about a New Year that is motivating and inspirational all on it's own. As exciting as new beginnings are, what I have also come to realize is maintaining the excitement, optimism, and hope is very difficult to do. I have consistently run out gas after about a month or so...until last November!
If we choose to reflect on them, patterns of behavior hold some of the biggest lessons in life. Last year I chose to look at my pattern of running out of gas, hope if you will regarding reaching and achieving my goals for the upcoming year. I'm not talking about New Year Resolutions, I don't really make those anymore. What I'm referring to is looking back on the year ending and thinking about what I want to work towards in the coming year. As I reflected on what could be the difference between this year and last year, what immediately came to mind was, I need some support. I need someone that will hold me accountable, and encourage me throughout the entire year. I needed a group, a like minded team.
I knew my main goal for the upcoming year had everything to do with becoming a full-time entrepreneur. I decided I wanted the group to consist of fellow women entrepreneurs. I had to know they were serious and would be someone that would be committed to the group. I knew I wanted the group to be small, because I needed it to be manageable and stress free. I was so intentional that I actually started thinking and praying in late November about who I wanted to be in the group for January 2019. It ended up being 5 of us and it was the absolute perfect size made up of the perfect women for me.
I created a FB group initially, the plan was for the group to meet on a quarterly basis beginning in January. The intent was to discuss each person's identified goals during the quarterly meetings, as well as spend time getting to know one another better. I was the common denominator since not all of them knew everyone in the group. During the months we didn't meet we used the group to provide inspiration, networking opportunities, tips, lessons learned, and resources that may have been beneficial in spurring one another on.
When I tell you this was one of the best things I have done in a long time, I mean it. These women helped me in so many ways. There is something about telling someone you are going to do something that you know you want to do but have allowed things to get in the way, mostly yourself. Stating goals out loud and writing them down, sharing them with people you trust, creates momentum and drive that I hadn't experienced before. We truly helped one another accomplish one milestone after another, one quarter of the year at a time.
I don't know what your goals, dreams, or aspirations are for 2020 but I would encourage you, if there are things you want to achieve, consider creating your own group. We could all use some support, encouragement, and accountability. Your goals could be entrepreneurship, weight-loss, fiances, physical activity, changing your diet, figuring out your goals and dreams, the group can be whatever you want, there just has to be a common purpose that everyone in the group is connected to.
Whatever changes you want to make in 2020, however you choose to make them, I wish you all the success in the world. If you can do it alone, kudos to you. If you are like me and need a little help, go for it. Don't subscribe to coulda, woulda, or shoulda but didn't. Don't get on the 360 roller coaster where you end up right back where you started, do a 180 and land in a different place this time next year. If the five of us can do, you can too, all we needed was each other!
Happy New Year!
Do you find yourself going on a social media sites like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and the next thing you know hours have passed and it's time you can't get back and nothing really productive has happened? Consider this my social media confession. I have a love hate relationship with social media. I love the fact that Facebook allows me to stay connected to people that I ordinarily would have lost contact with based on life happening. Instagram allows me to connect with people all over the world that have similar interest as me in a fun, creative and inspirational way. Twitter allows me to stay in the know of current events as well as put information out that I want people to know from a business point of view.
Social Media has it's place in our modern day society for sure. However, it is a thief of time. It has also had an equally negative impact on just about everything in modern society. It has made us all a little more narcissistic, self absorbed, insecure, self-righteous, all-knowing, egotistical, and just flat out mean at times. I have to wonder, were we already this way and social media is simply the vehicle that brought it out? I admire people that exist in this world with little to no ties to social media. I think they have a super power of some kind, regarding their ability to resist.
Now to be clear, social media makes me laugh so hard I cry sometimes. I love seeing pictures of people's children, pets, birthdays, weddings, engagement, first day of school, graduations, all the special moments of life that 10 years ago you would have either had to be there, view a photo album later or actually listen to someone's story about the moment using your imagination to create and paint a picture in your mind... imagine that. There is value in social media, I mean were it not for social media, you most likely would not be reading this blog right now.
I did say I love seeing the pictures and yes it can be cool to see them in an instant, in the moment but if we are all honest we bombard people with our special moments and as a result we are bombarded. We seem to have regressed back to a time of "you show me yours and I'll show you mine." We all know deep down inside that no one really wants to see a bazillion pictures of your child's first day of school, okay maybe their grandparents, but that's it. No one really wants to see trillion pictures of your vacation photos. Who is really interested in me sitting at my desk at work or me in the gym, I mean seriously, be honest? Who really cares about all my "Check-Ins?" I'm just saying, many of us have conditioned ourselves to believe everyone is genuinely interested in every aspect of our lives, so much so that they want to see play by play, minute by minute day by day. Do you really think people want to see a picture of you driving in your car? Seriously? Really? Okay maybe the gym pictures do provide some inspiration for those that may be struggling, I'll give you that.
Can we all just be honest here for a minute and admit that we are not that interesting, cute, fit, smart, funny, fabulous or exciting, can we go there? Now for the record, I am guilty as charged. I am preaching to myself. I love me some selfies, but truth be told, life is meant to be more than just a photo shoot. I recently went to a conference where the facilitator reminded everyone about how important it is to live in the present and how children naturally live in the present. In thinking about it, I found it to be so true. It always makes me just a little sad when I see parents take so many pictures of their children that by the 50th photo the child looks absolutely miserable. What are we teaching our kids with with all these pictures. What's the internal messaging going on? Do we really want them to think they are only as valuable as their number of likes?
Now that I have preached to the choir, what am I going to do about my love hate relationship with social media? I'm going to begin limiting my time on social platforms. Forgive me in advance if I miss your birthday or special moment! Just know that I'm out living, enjoying the moments life has to offer. I will no longer surf while watching TV, unless it's a game, because you have to post about that amazing catch that some player made in the moment lol. I think I'll break my time up into twice a day and see how that works. I mean there are only so many hours in the day and if I'm spending more than an hour on social media, how productive can I be really? Well that's what I'm going to do. I can't tell you what to do but I would encourage to you to evaluate your social media time and see if you are missing out on living your life while holding yourself hostage to watching the lives of others, let me know what you discover.
In the meantime wish me luck!
I recently came to the conclusion that people in leadership roles either makes things better, worse, or the keep them the same and anything less than better is no longer acceptable for me. Don't we all want to be better at our core? I have met few people in my life that just want to exist. If you ask enough questions and listen, you will find that most people want to be the best versions of themselves. I'm not talking about being rich or famous or in charge even. Being the best version of yourself has nothing to do with those things as they may or may not and usually not lead to being famous, rich or in charge. What being the best version of yourself guarantees is happiness, fulfillment and peace of mind. It leads to a zest for living and as a result it spurs those around you on. The impact is positive and momentous.
The world in my opinion, revolves around those in leadership roles, what they do and don't do. What they are able to get others to do. Leaders have the power to inspire growth and development which has a domino effect. Poor leadership has a domino effect as well, it can spread like cancer, destroying everything it's path. Poor leadership depletes the strongest of leaders if they remain connected to the poor leader long enough. If you are reading this, it is my hope that you are under the influence of a great leader and that you yourself are leading others in a direction that empowers them to be the best version of themselves.
Again...what kind of leader are you?
I'm convinced more than ever that people subconsciously view life the way they want to and there is nothing you can do to change what they see. In recent months I have become increasingly grateful for my upbringing, by upbringing I mean from as far back as I can remember until now. Based on the fact that I'm now almost 45, my upbringing would be considered my journey in life.