29tolife

Just another WordPress.com site

Archive for the tag “believing in yourself”

Good Friends Remind You of How Super You Are When You Forget

There are times I take on a lot.

I get frustrated and overwhelmed and I may huff and puff during the process, but things seem to work out.

Recently, I had about three friends suck their teeth at me when I started doubting myself. A beloved professor and mentor of mine was retiring from the university, so as a joke I told a friend I’d design a funny tee-shirt in his honor. (Some of you lifers remember when I was heavy on my t-shirt business and kind of gave up on it.)

My friend loved the idea and then I shared it with a few others and they all wanted shirts in time for the retirement celebration. I told my friends the money we’d collect from our shirts would go toward a scholarship fund being created in our professor’s honor. Everyone thought it was a fantastic idea.

My friend reminded me that just as they loved the idea, other people at the party were going to love it too, and to be prepared for an onslaught of orders. Another friend who was so tickled by the idea offered to build me a webstore prior to the event.

But the idea of my shirt being such a success scared the crap out of me.

How would I organize this? How would I handle the orders? Would people be willing to pay the price? How would I ship it? Is it the right quality? Is it good enough?

The thought of the business management side of it paralyzed me.

So I said, I’d just buy a couple extra shirts on top of the ones I promised to a few friends attending and would see how things went.

My friends were right.

As soon as we hit the building, people wanted shirts. We sold every single “extra” shirt (and by extra I only had three extra because I was worried about putting out so much money for extra shirts out of my own pocket because I told my friends all of their money would go to the scholarship. I was willing to take the financial hit.)

The man of the hour put on his free shirt immediately! (If that’s not affirmation, I don’t know what is.)

Illustrious alumni with highly impressive careers sought me out and quipped that they could afford a $20 shirt, so gimme!

I felt silly and embarrased and unprepared by only having such a scant amount of merchandise in a place with such enthusiastic demand.

So immediately, my website builder friend made me, in the middle of the party buy a domain name, via a smart phone and my other friends offered to help me pack and ship orders and work on a Facebook page. Then they all got together and said, “I told you so.” Even named themselves the, “I told you so crew” and did an “I told you so” dance.

I mentioned this situation to another friend completely unrelated to the ones at the party and when I told her how things went and how scared I was to really promote the shirts, she gave me the “you idiot” glare, then she offered to assist me too.

Photos of the shirts from the party circulating on Facebook have total strangers asking about them in the comments and saying things like, “Take my money!” “Want one!” “Need one!”

I got business cards and slips of paper with phone numbers and email addresses of people who wanted to know when more shirts were being made.

I was overwhelmed. But in a positive way.

I say all of this to say, it pays to have friends who believe in you when you’re scared. It’s downright funny when they get annoyed that you aren’t seeing what they see in you too. What’s the best about these kinds of friends is, they don’t just believe in your dream and say you can do it, they’ll give you a push and offer up their time, skills and talents and even money to invest in you so you can feel even more confident and less alone in the process.

The original friend who I shared the idea with me told me that it was bothersome that somewhere along the way I lost my confidence. That the old me would have not been so fearful about making the shirts and selling them.

And she was right. I’m not sure exactly of what happened or why. And maybe all of that doesn’t matter.

I’m just glad to know that I have amazing people in my life who will remind me, and force me if necessary to get it back and fly.

Thank you!!!

Advertisements

It’s All Practice

The longer we live and the more experiences we gain, we should start noticing some patterns if we are smart.

Over and over, I keep finding that EVERYTHING, every moment, every experience, every success, failure and mistake is essential to our growth and essential to our preparation for the “What’s Next” moment that’s going to show up.

It’s funny how we (I include myself in this) are always looking for the next big thing. We’re looking for the next relationship if we’re single (I hope you aren’t if you are married, lol), we’re thinking about the next job, the next promotion and we are thinking about all of the steps it’s going to take to get there. Then we get to there, and we’re looking for the next.

It’s sad and ridiculous all at the same time, but it keeps life interesting and it makes sense. As long as we’re breathing, we have the capacity to learn something new, do something new, change something we don’t like about ourselves, make a new friend or get rid of trifling folks who don’t add any value. We’re always rebuilding new cells, and shedding hair. Our nails grow, so it’s natural to always be in some kind of transition because our bodies are doing this every single day too. We’re healing ourselves even if it’s from a cold we caught, to pain someone may have caused us when we were a kid.

So ok, we’re always going to be looking for the next thing.

But just as we grow hair, shed dead skin, the things we are doing daily are kind of like those unglamorous changes we go through each day, there are unglamorous tasks we are doing consciously and subconsciously in an effort to move us forward and prepare us for whatever the new “next” is.

There are times especially professionally or in our love lives where we don’t see what’s at work, even in the small things we do each day.

I’m learning to examine those things and try to see new opportunities in everything.

I was recently bothered at work by how it seemed like the really talented people get overlooked or seen as a threat, meanwhile others boast and brag about mediocre things, or they talk to hear themselves talk, or create more problems so they can “solve” them and make themselves look better.

I’ve found that some people would rather create their own problems they can swoop in and solve to keep a job because they fear that actually solving the problem means there’s no need for them anymore.

That kind of thinking is operating in fear. There will always be new problems even after you solve the old ones. Have faith that people will be so impressed with how you handled the first problem that it’s a no-brainer that they’ll need you for the next.

And have faith you’ll have the skills to meet the new “next” head on.

I’ve been learning that the difficult people you are dealing with today are probably slightly more difficult than the most difficult person you’ve ever dealt with or slightly less difficult than the most difficult person you’ve ever dealt with.

That first person is your new lesson because you’re about to have to deal with someone much worse. You’ll need those skills and new ones to defeat the new beast. The last person is a reminder that you’ve dealt with worse and can deal.

Any opportunity you have to present or be in front of an office or lead a meeting take it and take it seriously. Be organized.

I learned this lesson this week when all of a sudden an informal meeting I was leading started to grow larger and larger when my supervisor noticed that I was organized and that people were engaged, expected to be ready to contribute and actually looking forward to it.

I turned around and started seeing that he extended invites to the project manager and people outside of my team who really had nothing to do with what this meeting was about.

This was my opportunity to put on a clinic. If there were things that I didn’t like about how meetings were run, well, this was my meeting. Instead of bitching about it, I had the power to show them how it’s done. And it took a very successful friend to point this out to me.

“As much as you say they are haters, he invited hater number one, two and three to your meeting. I work with idiots all of the time, and there are some smart idiot managers. The smart idiot managers tend to want to learn from people who they’ve identified as smart and organized. They may take all of the credit, but they know they need you and you can stack the deck in your favor. You can always stack the deck in your favor once you know this.”

So I’ve also decided that how I execute this meeting isn’t about the haters. It’s about me preparing myself. If I’ve said that I want to go back to the White House someday to talk about health disparities or before Congress, there are going to be far more important people who may not like me or what I have to say and the stakes will be much higher. So why not practice right now for that moment with this one little meeting with just a handful of haters…

Stop Hiding

So there has been a recurring theme that’s been popping up lately.

I came to an epiphany while talking to a good ex. He was wishing me a belated happy birthday and we started talking about a lot of random things. And he said to me some very positive things about me to me.

I asked him if I had changed and to him, he said not one bit, but he was very worried when I was going through my rough patch. He told me he didn’t like it when I would be down on myself because I could do anything.

He said it so simply and with so much love and admiration it made me miss our relationship so much. And it reminded me that whoever I choose needs to shower me with that kind of support. It didn’t feel syrupy at all, because as soon as he said something sweet, he said something absurd and silly as he often does to break the moment. And I enjoy that about him.

I disclosed to my good ex, that for the last several years I had been hiding in a sense.

After what I thought was a failure at a newspaper I worked at, I went to another job for security and got satisfied with consistent raises and well-deserved promotions. When I fell in love, and was preparing to get married, I saw my impending move as a way out to something else; a convenient excuse for a fresh start that I was all too ready for. At that time my comfy job was making me miserable with a tyrant of a co-worker trying to ruin my life.

And finally, the feeling that the last time I had to choose between career and love, I chose a career. So to show I was all in, I went all in and chose the man. But, that still didn’t work out, I said laughing. I was existing and hiding after the split, just trying to survive. I was too unhappy to think about purpose, I used all of my energy to simply get out of bed and make it to work.

To that, the good ex said, no way. And that I was awesome for holding it down everyday and paying my bills and staying employed which a lot of people in our industry were having a very tough time doing. I was glad we were texting because I was blushing.

I told him about grad school and how it scared me a bit, but how in some ways, I had no other choice. It was time for me to take control and live up to my best self. And I can’t keep doing that being satisfied where I am.

Which brings me to work and a certain project my big boss personally selected me for.

I thought I could hide.

But for some reason, my big boss chose me. So, I was given a task and I did it, I represented. I was prepared, confident and cool. After a conference call today when I asked her a few questions about the direction of the project and preparation for a larger presentation. She basically said aside from her I was one of the best people on the team. And this was in an area I knew nothing about and had to study in the span of a week. But I brought my ideas. And people were receptive and enthusiastic. It made me feel good. She also basically told me to take the ball and run with it and I will be a presenter in a major out-of-town meeting.

Whether I liked it or not, I could not hide.

God gave me a whole lot of time to sit on the sidelines and occasionally step forward at work with moments of brilliance and leadership even when I didn’t want to, or when I just wanted to lay low. He gave me time to rest and heal and deal with my own confidence issues and insecurities.

But I’m noticing more and more, God presenting certain opportunities that say, it’s time for you to shine. Do the work, don’t fear, if I’m telling you to go and you do it, you will not fail. You will have favor.

So I started being thankful for this season, even if it means if I do something impressive today, folks are looking at me to do something even more impressive tomorrow. That’s a good thing and like my ex said, its beyond high time to start seriously believing in myself the way I used to.

When I was busy questioning why my big boss chose me to do something way different from what I do everyday, I had to stop and say why not me?

Take this challenge and impress the heck out of everyone in the room. You belong at the table. You can lead. And with the full endorsement of the big boss, I am very much empowered to do so.

Then it made me think about the bigger picture and how God gives us tasks of varying degree of difficulty to prepare us for greater things and higher things. So I started thinking about what I’m studying and the kinds of things I want to do, like be a guest on Melissa Harris Perry or be a thought leader in public health or in public health communications, and what’s going on right now with work is practice.

God is letting me practice on a smaller scale so I’ll be ready to work at the CDC or NIH or even the White House. All things are possible.

But I can’t accomplish any of those things if I’m hiding. Or if I’m doubting myself. He sent me a bunch of signs in unexpected places that I cannot ignore.

So join me and come out of hiding. If you have a gift and a skill and a sincere desire to do something, then come out of hiding, put aside your fear and do it, even if it feels like it’s on a small-scale. When you are honest, when you do things from the heart and you are trying your best, the right people notice and you find yourself rising. When you show gratitude to people who give you chances, you get more chances. When you give other people chances, you get bigger chances. You notice you aren’t where you were a few years ago and you are in places you’d never thought you’d be.

Don’t hide anymore.

Keep Calm and Stay Busy

A humorous take on the popular “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan. Photo courtesy of youwerespring.tumblr.com

I see all sorts of signs and shirts and bookmarks that have a variation of that slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

Interestingly enough, it’s a British slogan from propaganda posters during the beginning of World War II. According to Wikipedia (I cringe at using them as a source, being a journalist, it’s a no-no) the phrase was thrust back into the lexicon and suddenly made a resurgence into popular culture after some woman unearthed some of the old posters from her father’s belongings and was featured on Antique Roadshow.

History lesson aside, it’s been everywhere and people have even made up their own funny versions too (there’s a tumblr page devoted to this).  It seems like this slogan is the recycled, classier version from our British cousins of “Keep on Truckin” a popular U. S. phrase from the 70s.

I’d like to add one to the list. Someone else probably already thought of it, because, it’s really simple.

“Keep Calm and Stay Busy.”

I have a friend who is a master at this. She volunteers, she likes to travel and visit her family and friends. The girl hardly sits still. She’s active in civic organizations; she’s just a busy little bee. She finds things to do, she finds me things to do and she lives hundreds of miles away!

I have noticed, that even when I pack my schedule, or I have a specific place to be at a specific time, I’m happier.

I’m happier because I feel like I’ve done something, that I didn’t waste time or brain cells.

I move more quickly and with purpose, I don’t hit the snooze button (as much). I’ve already thought of what I’m going to wear, and I’ll have it ready.

I’m more organized. Because, if you have a lot to do and places to be, you have to be more organized in order to do it all.

It’s perfectly fine to have lazy days to decompress from all the action. But it’s more fulfilling to fill your time with things that are important to you, your health, your spirit and your fun. By the time you take care of all of these areas, you will have a full schedule and a happier heart, indeed.

Your health: Having a scheduled workout at the same time, even twice a week makes a difference. I know people who schedule their daily workouts and they say they are at the point they feel like crap when they don’t work out. Their body notices it. I think I’m on week seven now of zumba twice a week for one hour. I may even start going to three classes, because I really like how I feel and today, I’m wearing a pair of pants that used to cut off my circulation. Those pants may still leave an indentation around my waist, but I can breathe, thank you.

Your spirit: If you are religious, having that set time you go to church to practice your faith can contribute to keeping your spirit busy.  Outside of worshiping with others, it’s good to sit down alone and meditate or pray privately. In addition to that, doing community work, or helping others also feeds your spirit if religion is not your thing. As I’ve found and my super active friend often tells me, once you volunteer to do things and you organize and do it well, somehow more people find you and ask you to help them too.

I’ve decided that I’m going to join the National Alliance on Mental Illness, volunteer from time to time and be an advocate for my mom and families who want to support the people they love. The outpouring of support from yesterday’s blog post, especially from fellow blogger, suestopford of The Happily Single Chick, really gave me the push I needed to do make this decision.

Also aiding in the efforts to stay busy for my spirit is the tee-shirt line I plan to launch at the end of this year or early next year. I’m planning an amazing photo shoot and I can’t wait to start working on content for the website. The whole vision is extremely exciting and I think it will really empower women, which really sends my spirit into a happy frenzy.

I’m going to an all day conference on leadership Saturday at Columbia University. It wasn’t so much about my job or my business, but it was about me getting more tools, and meeting new people even if that means getting on a bus early in the morning to go to NY from the DC area. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and go the extra mile to do things you know are good for you and will help you grow. I could possibly meet an investor or a potential client who can take me to the next level or even just make a new friend at this event. I can’t take that for granted.

Your fun: All three of these things are crucial and I think all three can overlap, honestly when you come from a place of sincerity in all that you are doing. You gotta have fun. You gotta do things that you enjoy. Thanks to living social, goldstar, and meetup, I’m just trying things. I’m going to new restaurants and seeing shows and checking out concerts. Taking a class, whatever, opportunities are all over the place. I’ve even convinced my friends to go to a fancy high tea one day soon (never done it and there’s a historical mansion literally down the street from me that does one monthly!).

These things make me really happy and you have to make time and the investment to do them. I love spending time with my family and friends and it just makes me feel really good.

With that, despite my challenges and emotional things I deal with from time to time, I’ve got to take a page from my uber busy friend’s book and “Keep Calm and Stay Busy.”

Killing Me Softly: “The Wiz” Gets Me Everytime

Over the years, “The Wiz” has become one of my favorite movies ever.

There are a million reasons to love it: Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, amazing music and dancing and very cool, yet sophisticated references to black American urban culture.

But the thing that resonates with me most is just Dorothy’s transformation. She was a quiet wallflower, doting on her aunt, uncle and doggie and pretending to be satisfied with her super ordinary life. So much so, the elementary school teacher isn’t even considering a job offer to teach at a high school outside of her Harlem neighborhood.

Eventually, in order to find her way back home from the very strange world of Oz, she’s forced to pull it together to slay evil witches, meet the mighty OZ and help her new friends she’s made a long the way become better, eh, lions, tin men and scarecrows.

I love to watch this movie over the holidays, but I’ve found when I’m going through a tough time or I know I’m in need of a serious change in my life and I end up watching this movie, I’m crying like a baby when Diana starts singing “Home.” Then I need someone to pick me up off of the floor by the end of Lena Horne’s song, “Believe in yourself.”

I feel like Lena’s Glenda the Good Witch was literally willing me to get it together, when she throws in that “whoo” and a “yeah” in there. Tell me you won’t want to change the world after watching this!!!

For some reason, those parts of the movie in particular, hit me like a ton of bricks. There have been times in my life I have been stuck in situations that I didn’t like, but I stayed out of fear of trying and failing even more miserably.

All throughout the movie, over and over, each character had to stand up, be brave and just try something new and step out of their comfort zone. It’s almost like the times I decide to pop that DVD in– on some subconscious level– is when I need to hear those messages the most.

I’m reminded to reconnect to the people who love me so they can recharge me and I need to gather up my confidence again to do something– anything bigger than what I’m doing at the moment. Happy holidays, yall!

Post Navigation