Thursday, January 29, 2009

How Big is Your Plank?

As an HR Director, I remember listening to an employee complain about the lack of productivity from a coworker. She went on to complain about her coworker’s excessive breaks, personal telephone calls, and lack of teamwork. However, the person in my office quickly got up and left when I pointed out that she hadn’t gotten to work on time all week, a couple of her projects were overdue, and she wasn’t exactly high on anyone’s list of being the friendliest person to work with.

A while back, I had a friend who was quick to point out when someone’s parenting skills weren’t up to par. Yet, she seemed blind to the fact that her child threw quite a few temper tantrums of her own.

I remember talking with a woman who gossiped about a girlfriend who would not leave her no-good man, practically berating her for being so stupid. Yet, she allowed herself to be mistreated over and over again by the man in her life.

There was this woman who constantly talked about anybody and everybody’s eating and exercise habits – telling them what they needed to do to be healthy. Yet, she was tipping the scales at 200 pounds.

There was a guy who looked at the people in his family that were struggling financially and kept putting them down because they couldn’t get their finances together. Yet, he was in debt up to his ears and had no money in the bank.

Are you seeing a pattern? Are you getting my point? We can all be quick to point out what’s wrong with someone else. We can clearly - without stuttering, hesitating, or stumbling over our words - articulate what someone else needs to do to solve their problem. And 99% of the time, we give our advice unsolicited! Yet, we refuse to look at ourselves and see that we may want to stop giving advice and start taking our own advice.

Paraphrasing from the Bible: First, take that supersized plank out of your eye before you go messing around with the speck in someone else’s.

Or, as my girlfriend likes to say – don’t be a hypocrite!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Significant vs. Successful

There's no lack of people telling you how to live a successful life. There are rows and rows of books in the self-help section of the bookstore. There are late night, early morning, and mid-day infomercials promising you the secrets of success for just 3 payments of $19.95. There are hundreds of talk radio shows that give you guest after guest that are anxious to share the keys to having the life that others will envy. And 99% of these people define success as having enough money to do what you want, when you want, and however you want. But that's a VERY narrow definition of success.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Aren't you one of those people?"

Yes - it's true. My first non-fiction book will be published in a few short months about creating a radical lifestyle (which is a big departure from my 9 fiction books that have already been published).

Yes - I conduct teleseminars and workshops around living a successful life.

And yes - I have been the host of a radio talk show with lots of guests sharing their "secrets".

But (you know there's a but!)...there is a difference! The difference is how I define success.

My coaching programs are designed around living a radical life. And being "radical" means defining success for yourself and being bold and courageous enough to go after it. Being "radical" means not basing your definition of success on what society says, what your mother says, the media says, your spouse says, or what anyone says. You must define success for yourself.

As a matter of fact, the first couple of sessions a client has with me is focused on defining success for themselves (which is not as easy as it sounds, as many people have been so influenced by outside factors that they have to dig deep to find their own thoughts and ideas). It's only after you do that, that you can begin to live a life that is focused on "significance" - which will then lead to your own personal success.

What do I mean?

Yesterday, I went to the funeral of a college friend who passed away after a long illness. If I said her name, 99% of you wouldn't know her. However, there were hundreds and hundreds of people there. There were many of my Spelman sisters, her Delta sorors, family members, people from her job, the community, and many government officials. People spoke of the impact she had on them and how she inspired them do better, live better, and serve others.

Now, the world tells us that success is millions of dollars, celebrity status, fame, and the ability to buy whatever you want. But a "significant" life is a life that finds a purpose and passion that serves others and pursues it relentlessly. Now, let me be crystal clear, that doesn't mean that money, fame and fortune can't go hand and hand with significance, but success without significance is a lonely, unfulfilled life. That's why people who seemingly have it all suffer bad marriages, drug abuse, alcoholism, and will jump out of a building when they lose their money. And it's also why the "poorest" of people can live with joy, love and a sense of peace.

When you start your journey with passion, purpose and a desire to serve, your life will be significant. And even if no one ever recognizes you for your efforts, you will still be successful.

Think of Ghandi - he began his journey with no cameras and reporters and his beliefs and passion changed a nation.

Think of Nelson Mandela - his purpose and commitment sent him to jail and his actions changed a nation.

Think of Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld - founders of The Innocence Project , they work diligently to free those wrongly convicted of crimes through DNA testing (227 people so far and counting!)

Think of President Barack Obama - no matter your political affiliation, his commitment to community organizing and giving back has inspired many to do the same.

Think of Judith Sandalow, Executive Director of The Children's Law Center - her organization helps at-risk children in the District of Columbia find safe, permanent homes and get the education, health and social services they need.

Think of Dr. Stephanie Jackson Pace, my Spelman sister who was laid to rest yesterday - her commitment to education (her PhD was in Mathematics from the University of MD), the youth, and her community left a legacy that will never be erased. She was truly significant and successful.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Doing Something Different is NOT Change

I was reading the blog of my best friend, Tawana (here's my shameless plug: Tawana's Blog). She's a fitness competitor and trainer and she was talking about how the gym is always crowded the first couple of weeks in January, and then slowly, but predictably, the numbers begin to shrink as all of those resolutions to get fit fade away.

Her blog entry got me thinking about change - and what it means to really change. Is change making a declaration? Is change writing down your plan? Is change doing something different? My answer to these questions is a resounding "NO!"

For example:

If you go a day without eating meat - are you now a vegetarian?
If you workout all this week - have you now met your fitness goal?
If you put money into your savings account this week - are you a saver?

The reality is - if you've done something different, good for you. But does that mean that you've changed? Absolutely not! Why? Because change is not doing something different. Change is doing something different consistently!!!

So what is it that you want to change? To make it REAL change, you have to be consistent.

Want to be a saver? Consistently set money aside - no matter what.
Want to eat healthy? Consistently cut out the crap (processed food, sugar, soda, etc).
Need to adjust your attitude? Consistently stop cussing people out for the slightest thing!

While it's true that you have to accomplish your goals one step at a time. The key point is that you take more than one step! So for those of you stepping - keep going! I know you have what it takes to change - for real!

Oh's one more shameless plug: Jillian Michaels - the trainer and life coach from The Biggest Loser will be speaking at my Get Radical Women's Conference. Will you be joining us?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's Just Hair

When it comes to clothes, makeup and hair, I'm a girly girl. Especially with my hair. I love to experiment and I have worn it long, short, braided and with cornrows. But for the last couple of years, I've been in a hair rut - sticking with pretty much the same look.

This past Wednesday, I saw a photo of Victoria Beckham (yes - Posh Spice from the Spice Girls) and she had the cutest short haircut. I showed it to a few people and they all liked it. Well, I saw my mom today and her eyes widened. "Your hair! You already cut it?"

"Well, duh," I said, "What did you think I was going to do?"

And you know what she said? "I don't know. You just bought this up a couple of days ago."

My response? "What's the big deal? It's just hair."

Sometimes we make things so difficult. We labor over the small things, agonizing over decisions when it's really not that serious. We are so afraid of making the wrong decision that we end making no decision. The result? Hours turn into days. Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months. Months turn into years. And five years later, you realize you are no closer to what you want and you ask yourself "Where did all the time go?"

My suggestion - don't delay. "Just Do It." If it's the wrong decision, at least you now know what not to do. But what if it's the right decision? You'll probably wonder why you waited so long.

When you ask yourself: "What's the worst that can happen?" The answer is usually not as bad as you think.
  • Cut all your hair and don't like it? In today's world, you can fix that in an instant. Just visit your local hair store.

  • Thinking about going back to school and not sure what you want to major in? Take a class and figure it out as you go. I'm sure there are some classes you have to take regardless of your major. Besides, it's by taking classes that you'll find what you like and what you're good at.

  • Interested in cooking? You don't have to go to the Culinary Institute of America. You can take a class at your local community college. Community college is a great way to dabble in something before going full steam ahead.

  • Want to make more money? Write out all the contributions you make to your organization and on Monday, schedule a meeting with your boss and share it with him/her. End the meeting by asking for a raise - a specific amount. Or, tell him/her to outline what you have to do to get a promotion. Or, explore other opportunities at another company. There's more than one way to skin a cat (or in this case, make more money).

There's an old saying. Nothing ventured. Nothing gained. So, what are you "venturing"?

Remember, what's the worst that could happen?

As for my latest venture - I love it. But even if I didn't, it wouldn't have mattered. Why? Because it's just hair!


After: (thanks for the photos mom!)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Go Ahead...It's Okay...Make a Resolution

One of the trends I've noticed over the past couple of years is that no one will admit to making New Year's Resolutions! It doesn't matter who I ask - clients, friends, family members - the answer is always the same: "I don't make resolutions." When I ask why, the typical answer goes something like this:

"I don't believe in them."
"They never last long anyway."
"No one I know is able to keep them."
"Everything is perfect in my life. I don't need any change."

And my response? "LIAR! LIAR!"

It is human nature to want something better, something different, something more. A change. It's normal to have hopes, dreams, and goals. And no matter how hard you may try, you cannot convince me that a new year doesn't bring up those feelings.

Well, let me assure you, it's okay. You can do it. I won't tell anyone. Make a resolution. Make 2. Make a whole list.

You see, the problem isn't with "resolutions". The problem is with the people who make them. When we don't make resolutions, we don't have to deal with our lack of consistency, our lack of integrity to keep our word to ourselves, and our lack of commitment to our goals. Get it? The reason you aren't making resolutions is because you've already decided that you won't keep them.

Well, I have a suggestion! Let's make a different decision. Let's decide to not only make resolutions. But to write them down.

Let's not just write them down, let's put a workable plan of action together.

Let's not just put a workable plan of action together, let's plan for challenges, obstacles, and setbacks.

Let's not just plan for challenges, obstacles, and setbacks, let's decide now what our response will be.

Here's a quick example:
  • You want to get out of credit card debt? (resolution)
  • Decide no eating out or non-essential purchases (workable plan) By the way --is cable, unlimited text, the NFL/NBA package and going to the nail salon every week essential???
  • Your best friend wants to shop sales and have lunch (challenge/obstacle/setback).
  • You say "Sounds like fun, but I'm determined to reduce my debt and as my best friend, I know you will understand. But hey, please stop by when you're done. I'd love to see what you got." (planned response).
See...piece of cake (smile).

You can apply this formula to any goal. Losing weight, finishing school, advancing in your career, getting your marriage on track, or getting rid of the difficult people in your life.

And just in case you need a little support and encouragement, check out some of my upcoming programs. It just might be the thing you need to make your resolutions a reality.

FitChick Nation - 28 Days to a New You!
This 4 - week transformational coaching program focuses on nutrition, fitness and motivation. Conducted through teleseminars, you will get practical, uncensored strategies to get your 2009 off to a powerful start. Designed especially for women, this program will get you fit -- mind, body and soul!

"Get Radical" Women's Conference
This dynamic and powerful one day women's conference provides real solutions to the challenges women are facing today – in their finances, career, relationships, and life balance. This day is designed to educate, inform, motivate, and inspire women to Get Radical!

RADICAL Management
How Managers and Leaders Can Build a Collaborative Workforce to Drive Productivity and Profits.

Learn key management and leadership attributes critical for success including:
*Why Managers Fail
*The Trust Factor
*Creating Standout Performers
*Real Performance Management

Where's the Balance?
Is your life out of control? Are you trying to manage your career, family and your own personal goals? Life Coach Doreen Rainey helps you examine why you are always in a state of rushed confusion. This thought provoking one hour session will give you the insight into finding balance and creating a plan of action to take charge of your time.