Inspirational

The Value of Your Gift

When we were younger people would ask:

“What do you want to be when you grow up”

To which a reply might be:

“A fireman!”

“A secretary!”

“The boss!”

No matter the answer there was an encouraging smile or giggle that would support the fantasy of being something great. But what is not asked is what do you value most and how will you build your career around it? Pretty heavy question to ask a six-year-old right? How about a 16-year-old who is starting to plan their lives? Still a little heavy right? What about at age 25, 35, 45, and so on? An adult should be able to answer that question right. Surprisingly enough, many don’t know what their core values are and have gotten so far away form them that their values equal their bottom line.

Let’s examine this a little bit. If someone asked you what your core values are as an individual would you be able to name them? Would the values be: honesty, integrity, being organized etc? These are not bad values to have, but they are typical. What truly matters to you? Is it your family? Is it stopping a generational financial struggle? Is it a spiritual conquest? There is no wrong answer as long as it is inline with your gift.

 

 

The Gift

I think  something we forget about is that we are capable to live our lives however we want to. Circumstances are challenges not a condemnation to live a certain way. That is our first gift, we can choose. The second gift is whatever skill(s) or talent(s) that you have.  This does not necessarily mean a physical skill such as IT, management, graphic design. The second gift could be your gift to heal people, a great listener, a fantastic speaker, or…your experience. Being in tune with those types of gifts filter out into career and life choices.

A young woman had the natural gift of being a story teller since she was a child. She could talk your ear off, but she’d also listen very well especially if you were ailing. Yet when anyone would ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up she’d say “I’m a writer!”. The spark of youth that ignited her life passion began to fizzle out as she got older and economic demands withered her passion. She became many people throughout her various ‘get by’ careers that pleased others; unfortunately, she lost her core values of being a great listener, speaker, and healer that fueled her ability to tell stories to the values of her circumstances. One day she said enough and had a great ‘Aha’ moment that realigned her different core values into singular ‘super powers’ to be able to tell stories effectively through many different mediums. And now her core values became her funnel to success.

This young woman had to make a choice to either allow her circumstances to dictate how she functioned or to tap into the power she has had all along and become who she is meant to be. From what I understand her story is far from over. Yet she is relieved that she found the woman she is meant to become. One day I believe she will write a best seller, in the meantime she is telling other people’s stories to heal, educate, and speak to the souls of their respective audiences.

Identify your gifts and values

It’s not unusual to be out of touch with who you are at your core; especially in a culture where people value what you do over who you are. You’re not your job, you’re not your skills, you are your core values.  I would like to invite you to do an exercise that may narrow down who you are vs who you have become.

  1. Make two columns
  2. In one column write down your top five virtues. (Example: Family, Healing, Spirituality etc)
  3. In another column write down the top five things you are doing in your life or your career.
  4. Draw lines that connect each virtue to your career or something else your doing.
  5. See how your virtues line up with what you are doing.

After this exercise see how what you have chosen or what your circumstances have chosen for you correlate with who you are. And if most do not connect, that means you need to realign yourself with your core values. Doing this will not lead to guaranteed financial abundance. However it will align you to your gifts that you carry naturally that will put in to your ‘wind’ and allow it to lift you into you mental, emotional, spiritual and possibly financial prosperity.

 

 

Ride the Wind, Eat the Cupcake

With the passing of an incredible Author, Toni Morrison, I began to look up different things she said and relived the passion of her stories over the years. She walked us through the experience of Black people on a spiritual level and the literary world was better for it. As I was reflecting on her impact, I started cackling when I overheard  one of my associates say to her co-worker who was rejecting sweets to maintain her diet, “Girl life is short, eat the cupcake!” .  And just as I finished laughing and turned back to my screen I saw one of Toni Morrison’s quotes:

Hearing about the cupcake and reading this quote again, it made me ponder on what we view as freedom. In a political sense, people view freedom differently. But how should we view our own personal freedom? What I interpret from this quote is that we only have but so much power and eventually we will have to surrender to will of a situation, but when we surrender we can begin to control our own freedom.

The Wind

Do you remember being young, dumb, and determined? I giggle thinking about it. I’ve had this conversation among friends about how we were running in circles piecing together our lives and livelihoods. Then hearing the echo of elders saying ‘If I knew then what I know now.’ Well fortunately I do know better now, and the best thing you can do is let it all flow.

Somewhere along the ‘adult’ education it was learned to have a handle on your life in every aspect, because that is what a well functioning adult does right?  I agree with this quote because I remember being my 20s and running into possibilities and dead ends and all the fun in between. But as I watch these young people today I see a lot of them being overworked, stressed about what they call ‘adulting’, and not taking the time to tap into the inner parts of themselves to become who they wanted to be when they were children; free.

Life is always going to be complicated in one form or another. That is the wind.  It’s never perfectly structured and may whip you about. Yet it is always moving, gently lands a petal or fallen leaf, moves the ocean, and blows your hair all in it’s own perfect way. So if you are able to collect all of your broken pieces from trying to control a circumstance, release them to the wind and let it be. There is no sin in letting something just be. That is the freedom we dream of as a child; letting things go and being ourselves in the best way possible. And every once in a while breaking the barrier of being responsible.

The Cupcake

Who doesn’t love a cupcake? They are sweet, wholesome, compact, and beautiful…much like many things in life that are worthwhile. How many times have we withheld ourselves from love, opportunities, or just having a wonderful time, because we deemed it to be irresponsible to do so? Why would anyone want to trap themselves into a space where there was little enjoyment to keep them in their sophisticated trappings that they or their communities uphold? Because that is what we are taught.

‘I’ll just have a small piece.’

‘Maybe just for a little while then we need to do xyz.’

‘No I can not do such a thing, it’s just not proper.’ 

These types of phrases come from thinking that too much of a ‘good thing’ can ruin you. To an extent that is true. We must have some self-control. However, why suppress our inner child in to thinking that experiencing some of life’s smallest and greatest joys is wrong? It’s not. There is certainly a time and place for anything that we do. However every once in while we have to throw that caution to the wayward wind and let the moment, the opportunity, the love, the adventure just be. You never know what beauty and growth will come from such a small sweet thing.

Life is short, find your freedom, ride the wind and eat the cupcake.

Thank you Toni, be free. 

 

Burn The Boat

In ancient times of war commanders would order their soldiers to burn their boats on the enemy’s shores as a signal to incoming sailors that the soldiers were going to win the war or die trying with no chance of retreat. Check out this video about Hernando Cortez who decided to take a chance; burn the boats.

In our lives we like to create options or a ‘plan B’ just in case something goes awry. While this is the intelligent decision, consequently it creates room for error that never allows you or a team to reach full potential. The reason we cling to these ‘safety boats’ is due a fear based on experience and the personification of it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Again this is the intelligent thing to do, especially as a business owner. However we have to create environments where every once in a while you must throw caution to the wind and go for it.  I’ve spoken about how a good indicator of proper leadership is knowing that your team will follow you over a cliff. Burning ‘your boat’ is similar, except this time everyone’s livelihoods, passions, and personal intentions are at stake; essentially the plan must work or you’ll die trying.

Burn the ego 

The most frightening thing for a CEO or independent business is to not have a project live up to their vision. Just because you plan and visualize for something, does not mean that is how it will turn out; get over it. It is infuriating when things do not fit into the ‘vision boat’ because the vision is perfect in your mind and anything less or different is unacceptable. When you take on a project it is important to put everything into your ‘vision boat’ then burn it. Let me say it again, put everything in your vision boat and burn it; because the result of lowering the expectation of perfection will create room for creativity, a lesson, and ultimately lower your anxiety about anything being perfect. Stop feeding your ego with the “We are the best” mentality because that is toxic enough to sink any boat.  Move forward with “We can deliver” to burn your ego and create something withstanding.

Die trying

As mentioned it is always good to have a back up plan. However consider this: If your business has not grown, because you have not taken a chance you are failing. This is called the Complacency Boat.  Businesses should always grow whether that is in tactics, offerings, staff specialties, and upward movement for all employees. When Cortez decided to storm the beach and get the treasure he essentially said we are going to do this or die trying. In a business sense, this does not mean you actually die, it means you are putting everything on the line because you are expecting it to be successful. Thus burning the Complacency Boat. But what if the Die Trying boat goes up in flames and you are stuck on the island of What Now? A true leader will pick up the pieces that are left from the boat and build a house on the island that would be named New Ideas. Not many people will remain after the Die Trying boat goes up in flames. That is alright. As the house of new ideas is being built continue to build more Vision Boats that will travel to a safe complacency island, pillage the island for more new ideas and strategies, burn the vision boat, and be prepared to reemerge as a force that will succeed or die trying; then rise again.

 

 

 

Peace Be With the Fallen Hero

Not everyone is suited to be an entrepreneur, most definitely stay out of that lane if you are not built for it. However everyone is capable to command their own lives. Sometimes it means breaking and bending rules, but you are your own first priority. Former first lady Michelle Obama recently spoke at The Essence Festival about how women must put themselves on their own priority list, because we have a bad habit of putting everyone else first. As a woman I can agree with this, but to an extent. Only because this is not just a woman issue, it is a super-hero syndrome issue. At times we feel that we must conquer all of our issues and others too, because we’re ‘capable’ of doing so. Eventually your emotions, mental state, and body will run aground and who wants to deal with a broken hero? It is important not to allow everyone’s need of you to replace the appreciation and love for yourself. Essentially, we must learn to say NO.

STOP BEING A PART OF THE GROUP

Working on a team or having a group of ‘complicated’ friends and relatives can be easily compared to the worst group project of the century. There are people 5 types of people in a group project: The Face; they show up and speak with conviction on matters they know nothing about, The Whiner; they whine about everything including the smallest of tasks, The Grinder; they take care of everything to keep everyone on track with little to no help, The Charlie-Come-Lately; they show up in spurts and are amazing when they are there, and The Pumpkin Head; full of hallow ideas, boisterous, and have no follow through.  Whether in the professional realm or personal life there will be one of these people always coming to The Grinder for advice, to save them in their crisis, or to criticize you for not doing either. The Face will act as if they have it all together, but in truth they don’t and The Grinder will have to pay for it. The Whiner will never be satisfied by any word of advice or direct action because they are lazy and entitled. The Charlie-Come-Lately can be a good ally at times, however they are as unreliable as everyone else, when The Grinder needs help themselves. And finally the The Pumpkin Head will always talk about making major moves, helping out the Grinder, or others and then disappear when they are needed most.

Being a Grinder has one major flaw, they gain fulfillment by being the the ‘go-to’ person even if it leaves them mentally destitute. Being able to handle everyone’s problems is not a gift. It is a charge that no one should take on fully. Separate yourself from people who will ultimately bring you to an emotional demise because they themselves are mentally and emotionally destitute.

RADIO SILENCE

In the military, Radio Silence is used to stop possible  communication interference or interception by an enemy. It is also used by sea captains to make sure they can hear faint distress signals. Both are needed in your life if you are going to take command of your peace. I have a colleague and friend who seems like she has 8 arms to manage everything within her business and personal life, will call her Serena. Serena would seemingly have it all together and for the most part she does. However there are times when anxiety takes over and her body shuts down ; distress signal. Unfortunately there have been moments where she’s had to power through ‘the distress signal’ and people will either pick up on it and see it as a weakness or it would interfere with her communication to others. Serena’s circumstance is not uncommon, however the solution is…go silent. When you are managing a lot in your life, even if it is beneficial, it does not negate the fact that you need to take a break for your mental space.  Have the courage to say no, turn off the phone, get off social media, don’t respond to the email and be with yourself. In this space you can recognize what is and what is not working to your benefit or you can just be silent. In this silence no one can penetrate your emotions or mind with their issues or emergencies. This is for work and your personal life, because sometimes the careers we have and people we love can wear us out as well.

DON’T CRY OVER PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT CRY AT YOUR FUNERAL. 

There will be a lot of people in your life that will guilt you into doing things for them, but they won’t shed a tear when you’re gone. When you are dead, in the proverbial or literal sense, the same people who have demanded your time, attention, and energy without reciprocation will not cry at your demise. There are three types of people at a funeral : The Wailers; they are slightly upset but are there to be seen in a dramatic fashion, The Vase; these people send flowers with a generic card and not their presence, and The Crier; the people who know and care for you and silently plead for your reemergence even though it’s unlikely.

Let’s say you are proverbially dead (career tanked, desperate situations, health crises etc) and you are crying out for help. A Wailer will announce publicly how terrible they feel for you, pry to get more gossip,  and do nothing to assist your reemergence. A Vase may contact you to critique your “funeral”, offer generic advice or words of comfort and disappear until you are useful to them again. These are the people that use up most of your energy and resources like the Face, Whiner, and Pumpkin Head. However the Crier will always speak life over your situation because they genuinely care, are Grinders themselves, and want to win as a team.

Do yourself a favor and take off your cape. Make peace with the fact that you said no to being everyone’s hero. Ultimately the person you need to save first and always is yourself.

 

The Broken Tunnel: Our Peers Are Our Best Mentors

Imagine you’ve finally reached your peak. You’re not taking on small clients, your business has increased, so has the staff and your corporate account. Then a friend and professional contemporary says, ‘You’re doing great! Now here’s the next step.’
What?!
When you have finely tuned your strategies and tactics and are in the flow of success and someone says there’s another level, it can be disheartening; especially when it’s coming from a friend. The purpose of a mentor is to guide you into a higher place, and a friend should be supportive no matter what right? Wrong. A good friend can accept you for whoever you are, but a great friend sees your potential before you consider the possibility of more.
The Broken Tunnel 
A young woman woke up one morning and decided to build a train. She had ridden on many trains before, some would recognize them as the ‘Get-by’, ‘Hustle’, or ‘Pays-the-bills’ locomotives. She wanted to build something new, something unique to her that many could hop on to as well and they could all get to where they wanted to go faster. She knew specific tracks needed to be laid to carry her train so despite the obstacles and fear mongering naysayers she laid her tracks that she called Possibilities. Then she built her train that ran fast and smooth with no delay or mechanical issue, and she named her train Triumph.  She only allowed certain people on her train that were comfortable riding the Triumph on Possibilities. While they rode on her train they were inspired to build their own modes of transportation to fly high, master seas, and hit the road; all moving forward.
To protect the mechanics and exclusivity of the train she created a tunnel with few openings that would allow new people on who were also moving forward.  She called the tunnel Fear-less because there was much less to fear while inside the tunnel. People would hear Triumph but no one could see it or comment on how it was working. One day a long time rider of the train approached her and said, ‘Have you thought about breaking down these walls and opening up the tunnel? Possibilities could run through many different types of terrains and the view for your passengers will also expand.’ The woman was appalled at the thought of breaking down the walls of Fear-less, stopped the train, and kicked them off.
A few months went by and Triumph’s engines began to wear, Fear-less was still sturdy, and Possibilities began to rust. The woman slowed down the train and passengers began to leave one-by-one. The couldn’t trust Triumph to run on Possibilities and wanted to leave the Fear-less tunnel to get moving on their own modes of transportation. Very few passengers remained and the woman struggled to keep her own faith in the slow moving train. One day a passenger saw a glimmer in the distance of the tunnel. They ran up to the woman and told her to go full speed ahead towards the glimmer. The light eventually got so bright that in shone through the car, though blinded she kept going. Warning lights and alarms started to go off in Triumph, but she kept driving the train forward. Finally she reached the source of the light. Triumph coasted to the end of Possibilities that it could ride on. And there in the broken Fear-less tunnel stood the former passenger.
The woman got off the train and walked out of fearless where the former passenger stood holding a sledgehammer they named Advance. The woman broke down in tears and explained how Triumph was dying and Possibilities were running out. The former passenger said,
“I knew it was hard for you to see where Possibilities could go, because you were in your tunnel. I also knew eventually your beloved triumph would stop running because it was never meant to run forever. You left behind the old trains, but this one was only meant to get you to a point. Well here it is.  You could not see that Possibilities was ending because of your tunnel. Now with this open space you have many options of where Possibilities can be built and travel to. I have a plane, Chance, and with I have seen so many places you could go.”
The woman took a relenting sigh as the former passenger explained that she would need a new train for her new tracks. She broke apart Triumph and used some old parts, combined with new parts to build the next train. The former passenger would allow her to fly Chance every once in a while, as they gave advice on how to build more of Possibilities. It hurt her to give up Triumph, but she realized that the former passenger was the best rider on her train because with them, Chance, and building more Possibilities she created her new train Prosperity.
Break it open
While this is a story, the process is the same. We take different components of our lives to build the ideal life, but we cannot have tunnel vision and be blinded by our own wit or knowledge. It’s hard to challenge our egos when things are going well, even if they are going wrong we still believe in our own minds for what is best. Our friends are our best mentors, because they know the desires of our hearts as well as what we are capable of, even when we don’t. We know the possibilities of our business or lives, but we must build it and trust those who want to help us take chances, ride through our triumphs and move forward with prosperity.

Am I Doing Enough?

With the view of the world at our fingertips a front seat view of everyone’s accomplishments can diminish the view of your self and ask am I doing enough? The trouble with scrolling through various timelines and seeing accomplishments is we see everyone’s mountaintop and none of the climb. Usually when this happens inconveniently when you are in a ‘stuck’ or transitional space where you are trying to make decisions your next move.  This rush to mirror what is seen on social media or chatted about among family or whispered between friends is causing a lot of depression, feelings of inadequacy, and when things don’t go your way…stuck.  The truth is you are doing enough for the season that you are in.

The Next Move 

Making plans is rational for anyone in business, but it is important to leave room for the surefire mistakes, course changes, and starting over. Imagine you have worked hard for your degree(s) and end up taking a job that is way below your skill set. Meanwhile someone who has worked half as hard is reaping your harvest. So while stewing in envy and feeling inadequate, you’ll start to scramble and wonder what is my next move to make me who I have been fighting to be?  In this mental space dissect what it is you really want. That job, goal, or dream may not be for you and that is why you are stuck in a job where you can cultivate the process to create something better for yourself. The main goal is to imagine a place of peace within the type of life you want and allow for opportunities to come to you to create that reality. This sounds arbitrary, but walk with me on this. We can not control the universe. The items that are within our control are: skill set, ambition, and creating peace within ourselves. By having those items in line we can do almost anything. Work with what you have in this season of your life, because the opportunity that you are trying to bring to yourself is not ready for you and you are not ready for it. Set your goals, make your plans, that is the sensible thing to do. However do not cheat your own fate by seeking to be good enough to impress other people.

A pause does not equal stuck

I heard a story from a colleague of mine where she was unemployed and had planned to return to graduate school. She wanted to return to school because she felt like with all of her experience she needed a masters degree to prove that she was enough. Everything was aligning for her to return to school, including her transferable job that she could hold while in school. She carefully prepared everything for her admission, picked out a few apartments, and began planning out the rest of her year. Then the admission email came in at 7:30 in the morning denying her acceptance. She was floored. Not only did she get denied, but her entire plan had foiled and she was stuck in a job she did not want.

After a few weeks of trying to recalibrate, she was redirected into growing her freelance jobs into a full time business. Something she would not have been able to do had she gone to school and acquired a useless degree that would not serve how she was growing in other places. Her pause made it seem like she was stuck, when in fact it was change in direction to a better form of her prosperity. No  one knows what will happen, even if we plan. When you are in a ‘pause’ moment, it is not because what your doing is not good enough, it is because you need to shift course so you won’t be stuck.

Life is a ride and for whatever wave you are on, you are more than good enough within your current season.

 

Take a Break Mom

For a working mother of any kind, Mother’s Day is a day to be pampered, but also to reflect. Many mothers reflect on how fulfilling their lives have been with their families, the advancement of their careers, but some may be thinking about how little time they’ve had to themselves. Not have a distinguishable time to break away from the duties of being a mother can create a lot of stress and worse depression; unfortunately that is one of the leading causes of heart attacks and heart disease for women. When you become a mother it does not mean that you must relinquish everything that you are and that includes taking some time for yourself.

Ask for help 

One of my friends showed me this article from Scary Mommy, which I thought was a funny and accurate title for a motherhood blog. We talked about how taking time for yourself or asking for help became a ridiculous thought because we needed to be there for our child/children. Then when I read the quote below it summed up how we need to ask for help whether from a partner, relative, or friend, because no one can do this alone.

“Just handle it! You asked for this!” constantly rang in my ears, and I refused — and I mean straight-up refused — to ask for help. Help is for wimps!  Help is for…for moms who don’t love their kids and need those silly “breaks” from them all the time…And then I hit the mother of all mothering walls and collapsed in epic fashion. I was toast. Burnt [sic] toast. And burnt toast can’t raise children.”  (Scary Mommy)

Demand time for yourself. 

 “The more we fill ourselves up, the more we have to give. And as moms, we have to give a lot.” –Kristy S. Rodriguez, a pre- and postnatal wellness expert and advocate stated in a Parents.com article. . 

Loving yourself first is not selfish, especially when you are a mother.  When a woman becomes a mother the thought of putting anyone ahead of their child’s needs is completely out of the question. However if you are unable to distinguish the mother, wife/partner, friend, and individual parts of yourself, they will eventually collide and you will implode. Demanding space, quiet time, time to something you enjoy and more is not hard. Ask for it. Create times for you to be with yourself and enjoy that time. If anyone disrupts it, unless it is an emergency, remind them that they are being disrespectful and ask them to respect your time so that you can be a better person overall.

The important thing to remember is you are not a bad mother if you need some time for yourself. Create in yourself a place of peace that will radiate outward and demand balance within the household. It will take time and adjustment, but it is possible. Take break to show that you know how to love yourself.

Your children are watching. 

Fear the Regret of not Being Bold

Anything that is holding you back from taking that chance to march into a new endeavor, knock it out of the way, and take that leap of faith. Many women, like men, fear change and any disruption in their stability.  I’ve talked about walking away from my private sector job and starting my own business before and it is not an easy choice. I see women on two different ends of the spectrum now, where they are either going for their dream life with gusto or having a ‘someday’ attitude because they have families; both are valid feelings. Outsiders may say that by taking a risk professionally, the respective woman will struggle or worse the family.  However fearing the unknown and absorbing the opinions of others is a recipe for regret. If  you put at least 50% of the energy that is given to your job or family into yourself, everyone will be better for it.

Fearing the unknown is a waste of time. Expecting the unknown troubles, successes, and journeys is far more invigorating! When a challenge arises that forces your humility it is a transformative process. When a woman becomes a mother, everything changes and many unexpected things occur. When a woman starts a business or other types of endeavors, it is the same process. We can prepare, but not always predict if or when something is going to happen. So why allow the fear of the unknown to build up our regret.

No matter what you do, someone will have an opinion for better or worse. And while it is alright to ignore those opinions, listen to them, because they may be holding a piece of advice that needs to be heard masked in worry. For example, if you are starting a small business and have a family of five someone may ask ‘What about your kids? What about your spouse?’ and that will spark an idea on child care, partner coordination, and work time management to be effective in all realms. With other negative opinions in the spirit of ‘Most businesses fail in five years’ or ‘You’re going to do that?‘ use that as fuel to prove to yourself  that these negative people were wrong. I say to prove it to yourself because no matter how incredible you become, they will never lift their outlook on life or opinion of you. You have to prove yourself wrong, by conquering every imagined catastrophe and rejoice in it not coming to pass. After all, the most important opinion we have is the one of ourselves.

Fear is a motivator and the fear of regret has the same power. Use the fear of regret to fuel your ambitions. Yes, mistakes will be made and perhaps one of those imagined catastrophes will come to pass. Learn from it, and be bold in moving forward. I may have regretted some decisions or plans I laid out that did not benefit me. However after almost 30 years of taking that leap of faith, I’ve learned it is better to regret bad decisions that were reshaped into opportunities, than to regret never taking a chance at all.

    There are no mistakes. 

     

    Give Yourself A Chance

    I was reflecting today on a conversation with a young woman I was mentoring about building her business, I’ll call her Lynn. She was so focused on going through a “life reset” post a recent turbulent transition that she would not give herself a chance to grow as a person and a professional.  One day I said to her ‘You walk around with this chip on your shoulder saying you survived, but what does that mean for your business?’ Since our conversation Lynn has grown in her business and appreciated the process. However it made me think about how much we press the “dress for the job you want” mentality instead of enjoying the process. When my mentee was telling me about what she wanted to accomplish, the plan was rushed, not thought out and she wanted to be the best instead of one of the best, which would’ve allowed the flexibility for growth. Instead of cultivating knowledge learned from mentors, mistakes, and risks she wanted to work tirelessly for the glory now. Which she did. It wore her out and she did not achieve the goal she was seeking. At this point she had given up because she wasn’t making six figures by a certain age.

    It was initially hard to understand why she was giving up. But then the realization hit me that she was not giving up, she was upset that she had to start over again. She had worked, stressed, and dressed for the job she wanted without enough substance behind her experience that would have propelled her into the roll she wanted. Lynn needed time to give herself a chance and not sulk about on her lack of desired accomplishments.  In one of my mentoring sessions I suggested that Lynn read The Alchemist. I love this book because it is a look at the wisdom behind taking a chance and going through a process for your “treasure”.  And just like the boy mentioned in the book, Lynn had many stopping points that forced her to grow mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and in skill to achieve her ultimate goal.

    We get these ideas in our heads that we will be exceptional, and we respectively will. The distraction is in the anxiety of it not happening fast enough. When your mind is not lined up with how a process will work to achieve your goal, there will be missteps that force you to start over or reevaluate. This is not a bad thing, because we need to learn from mistakes.  However it can cause you to be disheartened on an emotional and spiritual level and that distraction in addition to the initial distraction of rushing, will derail you completely. Lynn had to, as the church folk may say, have a conversation with herself and say “Self! What do you want?”. When she finally had that conversation and chose what she wanted in general for her career,  for her wealth, and for her family all of the little steps that lead to bigger steps have been moving her forward in her business. She had to give herself a chance to get balanced so that she could walk the path to her desired glory.

    Do not do yourself the disservice of not allowing the different components (mind, soul, and skill) of who you are to align with each other and lose your “treasure”.  Give yourself a chance to develop and be humble enough to know that you will make mistakes and learn from them. The process is long, it is rough, and your “components” will collide. Take care of each of them and watch how they will intertwine together to conspire in helping you to achieve what you want.  Lynn is still building and giving herself a chance to get it right, you can do it too.

    STEM is Risky, Go For It.

    “I go after problems that excite me. When I started this project, I didn’t know anything about black holes and honestly, it was a risky project. But my heart was in this project. I love this project, and I think that that’s what makes it a success. When you get really smart people together, who are super motivated by the problem that they’re working on, I think people will figure out the answers.”

    – Katie Bowman 

    Katie Bowman is one of the 200 scientists that collaborated to capture an image of light in a Black Hole. Seeing inside a black hole was an impossible feat until now and it was an international risk.  Despite the risk and not having previous knowledge of how black holes worked when she started on the project six years ago,  it was her algorithm that allowed scientists to capture the image that stunned the world.

    I was overwhelmed with excitement and surprise when the image was finally revealed and upon learning of Katie’s contribution it took me down this rabbit hole of ideas circling around, what is next for women in STEM?  The STEM field is comprised of roughly 28% women and that needs to grow. Everyday a new IT firm or incredible invention, or  discovery such as this one occurs and the number of women doing it is slowly rising. The next generation is preparing for the overwhelming jobs that will be available in the STEM or STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics)  fields, but for now we need to push for retraining and education for women interested in this field.

    In 2017, the International Visitor Leadership Program  also known as Hidden No More, brought together 48 women from around the world with “hidden talents” in STEM to go through workshops and networking opportunities to nurture their skills and create ideas that they could bring back to their respective countries. This idea came after the movie Hidden Figures premiered and sparked an interest in who else was “hidden” that could change the course of the STEM field.  We need to continue to do programs like this on the Federal, State, and Local levels to encourage the interest which will cultivate opportunities and provide growth for the country. If it is possible to create such an opportunity for 48 women, why not 100? Why not 1000?

    Katie had an opportunity to put her skills to the test, challenge herself, and achieve what was once impossible at the age of 29. She joined the project without knowing anything about it and created an opportunity for herself to overcome a barrier as a woman, engineer, and scientist; ultimately, all she had was hope to rely on. That hope, while deeply rooted in extensive education, is what took us quite literally across the universe. Her algorithm was a risk, her speaking up was a risk, her attempt to make something happen without having all the information was a huge risk. But the risk gave us the reward and as women in IT and Science we have to risk it all if we’re going to make the next giant step for (wo)man kind.