The mirror can lie! Blaze your own trail

round leaning mirror with white frame
Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

(Audre Lorde)

Really love the words presented by Audre Lorde.  The concept of creating your own definition of self is vitality important to truly progress in life.  There are people who look in the mirror and automatically see bad examples staring back at them.  Please know, the mirror can lie and the bad examples from the past do not have to hinder the present and/or future.

Bad examples can manifest in multiple locations.  I will focus on two specific areas to help highlight how bad examples can and should be used to fuel a positive Walk into the Future.  The two areas I focus on are leadership and personal development. I’m sure everyone has a story on bad examples in these areas as well.  My attempt will be to show how these bad experiences can be leveraged for a positive tomorrow.

Leadership

Would like to say everyone I’ve worked for has been an outstanding leader but that would not be true.  It may not even be realistic to expect EVERY leader to possess the capability to be outstanding.  Turns out the leaders who were not the best provided me with enough tough lessons to sharpen my leadership skills.  Please note, I’ve had some great leaders/mentors in my life who I lean on even today.  Their lessons are with me daily, but the few bad leaders impact my leadership style and methods as well.

I gravitated towards the Authentic Leadership style because I’ve seen organizations destroyed because the so-called leader wasn’t authentic.  They profess being a genuine and transparent leader but then their true self comes out and it is the opposite of authentic.  Seeing these type leaders in action reinforces why the concepts of authenticity, self-awareness, having a moral compass and relational transparency are so important in my leadership style.

I’ve seen leaders who walk by their direct reports’ multiple times in a day and never say hello.  Seems like a small thing but how can you say you care about your people and can’t acknowledge them?  Not saying a leader must stop and talk every time they see someone but it’s a lot easier leading people when you are relatable and engaged. Also, only talking with direct reports when something is needed or due signals the leader only cares about the bottom line.  Staff will do more within a positive and nurturing work environment.

These are two leadership examples I leverage to help build my authentic leadership platform.  I proactively do the opposite of these leadership examples because I’ve seen them in action and how they deflate staff and organizational morale.

That’s my approach, things I don’t like or disagree with from a bad leader, I simply don’t repeat—not rocket science but it works.  No need to subject others to these habits—create positive energy and blaze your leadership trail to enhance the work environment.

Personal development

There are instances where environment can hinder personal development but many more where great outcomes occur almost against all odds.  Life is impacted by choices (good or bad) and we have the capability to choose not to mirror bad examples but learn from them.

I love working with college students from South Florida.  They routinely tell me they’re the first person in their family to attend college and they want a different outcome for themselves.  They don’t want to forget the struggles from home but use them to continue to grow.  They also strive not to repeat some of the bad neighborhood examples others succumbed to.

They tell me of proactive actions they took to avoid running with the wrong neighborhood friends.  These people may have been well intentioned but set bad examples of how to truly progress in life.  They experienced family and community situations that potentially could hinder growth, but they didn’t let these things stop them.  These things were used as inspiration to overcome obstacles.

Environment is an important element in personal development but can be overcome—I’ve seen it done.  Mentors and positive examples can help with personal development.  Self-awareness and learning from bad examples can increase the ability to blaze a personal development trail.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be”.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

How do you define yourself for you?  What does your personal or professional mirror reflect? How can you leverage bad examples to enhance your Walk into the Future?

Stop limiting your progress—remove personal roadblocks

Road Block image

(Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer from Pixabay)

“Love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning”.

(Carol Dweck)

What is holding you back from accomplishing what you want out of life?

This question and subsequent answers can be applied to your personal and professional life.  I’m a huge advocate for positive energy helping us meet or exceed our life goals so, begin the process to remove anything that would limit your progress today!

Dictionary.com defines progress as forward or onward movement toward a destination.

Let your daily thoughts, actions and words lead you toward the progress your desire in all areas of your life.

I’m a firm believer we can talk ourselves into or out of anything in life.  I’ve started answering the question how’s your day? with the response fantastic.  I use this response to trigger the destination I’m seeking and ensure my thoughts match the destination.  I know this is a simple explanation but how many people have you heard say the following:

  • I’m not a morning person…
  • I want to work out but don’t have time…
  • Working on this project is going to suck…

They have just created a negative thought pattern for the highlighted activities.  Not saying simply putting a positive spin would make everything work better BUT it can’t hurt.  Why create these roadblocks for yourself?  Positive self-talk can be used here to get better outcomes.  It takes time to adjust your mindset but should be worth the attempt.

“There is no elevator to success.  You must take the stairs”.

(Unknown)

Next, put the necessary actions in place to match your positive thoughts.  Identify the things needed to reverse the identified roadblocks.  Using the same thoughts listed above can help highlight how actions can help with your thoughts:

  • I’m not a morning person…
    • (Action: establish an earlier and consistent bedtime)
  • I want to work out but don’t have time…
    • (Action: start small, walk during lunch or after dinner; work out at home)
  • Working on this project is going to suck…
    • (Action: research the project, look for ways to influence positive outcomes)

Finally, put the appropriate words in place to ensure your thoughts and actions move you towards the progress you seek.  I leverage reggae and specifically Bob Marley songs to get me in an Irie state of mind prior to speaking engagements.  This may seem like a small factor, but I’ve found sustained success when I do this.  Playing reggae also enhances the mood and mindset of my audience.

I routinely write the following words in my notes prior to speaking:  eye contact, speak clearly, move the crowd and have fun.

These words are consistent with the outcomes I want from every presentation.  I mentioned in an earlier post I still get nervous prior to speaking even with my experience level.  Writing these words prior to an engagement give me the focus needed to ensure a successful presentation.  My words in this example influence my thoughts and lead to positive actions.  Simple, huh?

This is not an overnight process!  It takes time and self-awareness to fully understand how your thoughts, words and actions impact your daily interactions.

What roadblocks have you created that limit your progress?  What thoughts, actions and words can you leverage to remove these roadblocks? Thanks!

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right”.

(Henry Ford)

Open Road

(Image by Rohan S from Pixabay)

Walking with the new normal

person in spiderman costume
Photo by Life of Wu on Pexels.com

“Time is an illusion that passes way too fast”.

(Ana Claudia Antunes)

Lexico.com defines a new normal as a previously unfamiliar or atypical situation that has become standard, usual or expected.

Urban Dictionary identifies a new normal as the current state of being after some drastic change has transpired.

The COVID-19 pandemic fits regardless which of the two definitions you associate with the term new normal.  Forgive me for using Urban Dictionary for such a serious problem but the definition used is spot on to what most of us are experiencing right now.  I won’t get into politics, medicine or debate treatments but will use this platform to discuss things I view as the new normal for me with this crisis.

Home gym

I have always maintained a small home gym regardless of where I live.  The concept of working out and staying active at home has always been a part of my workout routine.  The home gym is an easy place to get a workout in when I don’t feel like driving to the gym or the weather is bad.  My most elaborate piece of equipment was the heavy bag I had to practice throwing punches.  It was a great way to burn calories and release workday stress at the same time.

Got rid of the heavy bag prior to moving to Tallahassee but have maintained kettle bells, dumbbells, resistance bands, BOSU and 75cm exercise balls.  Happy to say I’m getting a lot of use out of these tools since I decided to stop going to the gym.  The gym staff did a tremendous job wiping things down at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak in the states but decided to stop going prior to gyms being closed by government order.  Couldn’t justify being there knowing EVERY piece of equipment is touched by so many people.  This was not a revelation, but the point is magnified by how the COVID-19 gets transmitted.

My home gym gives me the capability to maintain my fitness levels and get creative with my workouts.  Still finding additional exercises to utilize on the BOSU ball and with my resistance bands.  Hope to add a few more pieces to my home gym to help stay fit during this time period.

Yoga

Dusted off a few of my yoga DVDs so I can continue to stretch to maintain good posture.  Try to get in weekly yoga sessions but increased to three times weekly.  Yoga emphasizes proper breathing techniques, and this helps maintain a calm mind and body while practicing physical distancing.  I realize everyone is using the term social distancing but to me social distancing is what I do when I PURGE a contact in my phone.  Trying to rotate my yoga DVD instructors to ensure I stay balanced during this time.

Runs

My normal routine got me out for runs three times each week with a long run on the weekends.  I’ve increased my running program to get me out for runs five times weekly—some of these are shorter just to get me out and active.  Can’t do gym cardio for the time being, need to ensure I’m burning calories so I can continue to eat like I want.  😊

My neighborhood has a pedestrian bridge I utilize to run up stairs and then sprint down the ramp.  This is a new version of cardio I can get done to keep my outdoor exercise program fresh.  Increased this routine to incorporate 27 sets (steps and sprints) to burn calories without a gym.

Conner Bridge

Added more walks to my routine as well.  This keeps me moving without as much wear and tear on my joints the running program adds.  My walking goal is to just enjoy being outside and take in nature.

The Rock n Roll marathon series 2020 Nashville half marathon has been postponed until further notice.  Hoping they will reschedule the Nashville races for the fall if it’s safe enough for people to be that close again.  If not, the registration will roll over to 2021 and will get up there then.  I still plan to run the half marathon distance on 4/25/2020 but won’t have a crowd to cheer me on.  No worries, running is the perfect sport to practice physical distancing.  😊

No coffee shops

So far, my biggest adjustment has been working/writing from home instead of my favorite spot at Lucky Goat.  Didn’t realize how many distractions I had at home until I was forced to stay in more.  The remote control and ability to search for TV programs was almost my downfall.

Finally had to discipline myself to set-up just like I was at Lucky Goat (laptop, headphones only) for the time period I wanted to research, write and network. Things went a lot better once I got my disciplined approach again.  Miss Lucky Goat but this is a small sacrifice right now.

Extra cleaning

Believe we all are doing more cleaning, wiping and disinfecting with this new normal.  Seems to be the best way combined with physical distancing to control the spread of the virus.  I’m super conscience of everything I touch or may touch now and ensure to keep my hands to myself.  Not as quick to touch doorknobs or handles when/if I’m out and about now.  Better to be safe in these times.

Keynotes and Consulting

My new normal in this category is nonexistent.  Organizations are protecting their staff members by implementing work from home protocols.  I’m still networking with organizations and decision makers but don’t see the keynote/consulting opportunities coming back for a few months.  No worries, more time for research, writing and running.

Moving forward

These are things I think of when talking about a new normal.  Hopefully, this period will pass soon, and we can get back to the old normal and not have to avoid each other.  Until then, stay safe and continue to practice physical distancing!

What are your new norms?  How has the transition impacted you?

 

“Transitions in life can offer opportunities for discovery”.

(Robbie Shell)

The long journey home

Moving Forward Feb 2020

(Image by Bluehouse Skis from Pixabay.com)

“A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home”.

(Matthew 13:57)

There’s an area I’ve had trouble making speaking inroads since I’ve been on my Walk into the Future journey—my hometown.

Never thought my hometown would be the toughest place for me to engage, mentor and help others but it has proven to be a tough place to get invites.  The passage above is my reminder that I’m not the only one to struggle to get a message to people who know me—better folks have struggled with this same dynamic, so I guess I’m keeping great company!  It would have been easy to just give up and focus my energy into more productive environments but that would have been the simple way for me to proceed.

Perseverance requires additional tactics to reach life and professional goals—so I decided to persevere and keep moving forward on this pursuit.

Finally got the invite to speak during the MLK 2020 weekend at the MLK Banquet as the Keynote Speaker!  So, I went from seeking an opportunity in my hometown to having the honor of delivering an important message at the premier event of the weekend—no pressure! 😊

My goal when speaking is always to move the crowd.  People want to be entertained, laugh a bit and take something tangible away from these events.  The theme of the weekend was:  Progression not Regression.

Struggled a bit conducting research for the event since it was open to everyone in the community.  Different demographics, backgrounds, and denominations so I couldn’t go into the Keynote with a complete understanding of who would attend.  This freaked me out for a bit and then I decided to trust my process for building presentations—one slide at a time.

Looked at previous presentations and blog articles to see if I already had something to fit the theme of the weekend.  Nothing matched completely but I recently completed a blog article centered around positive energy in daily interactions.  Decided to use positive energy as the progression and negative energy as regression during my speech.

Dr. King’s 1963 I Have a Dream speech was future focused and still relevant in 2020.  Leveraged this information to continue to build the foundation of my presentation.  Didn’t get deep into Dr. King’s speech but wanted to use it to engage the audience since it was an MLK event.

Introduced the concept of self-awareness to help audience members get a more personal appreciation of progression and regression.  Didn’t launch a deep dive on self-awareness but wanted the audience to understand how everyone can control progression and/or regression in their lives.  Self-awareness helps eliminate roadblocks, generates an Irie (positive) mindset and thoughts to create positive outcomes.

Dr. King’s dream is still alive and believe everyone in attendance was able to discover how they can enhance progression in the community.  Really wanted them to walk out of my Keynote and seek ways to make a difference.  I left them with three questions to help seal the theme, Progression Not Regression:

  • What can you do?
  • Who can you serve?
  • What’s stopping you?

The audience response was tremendous during my entire time with them.  I feed off audience energy and participation—they brought their ‘A’ game and I didn’t want to disappoint since I’ve been trying to get on the hometown stage for years.  Extremely happy for the opportunity and proud of the effort to Keynote this amazing event.

Full disclosure had several aunts, cousins, childhood friends, teachers and my mom in the audience.  Nothing like your mom watching you work a room! 😊  Things happen for a reason and I enjoyed my time with the group.  Feedback has been great so far so hoping I’m going to receive requests to come back and move the crowd again.

Side note:  our high school librarian (retired) was in attendance.  I made a point to acknowledge her during my Keynote because she allowed me to spend most of my free time in the library with her during my high school years.  I was in there so much she let me check out books to other students like I was an employee.  This is where I gained a love for books and reading which eventually led to me pursuing a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology years later.  Small things lead to big results!  She said all my aggravation was well worth it, now! 😊

How do you ensure positive energy (progression) in your daily interactions?  What techniques do you use to combat potential negative energy (regression)?

How will you celebrate Black History month?  Thanks!

Thanks to the Hamilton County MLK committee for putting me on!

“Home is where one starts from”.

(T.S. Eliot)

MLK 2020

 (MLK 2020 Keynote, Jasper, FL.)