Tuesday, November 30, 2010

An Attitude of Expectation

What do you want? What do you need? Now that you've answered those questions, answer this one, Do you believe that you will get those things?

I'll never forget the day that I auditioned to be a backup dancer for Gospel Recording artist, Kierra 'Ki Ki Sheard'. We'd just found out from her choreographer that she was going to do a ten, day three city tour in Japan and she was looking for one more dancer. No sooner than the words had come out of our choreographer's mouth, I was already visualizing myself dancing in Japan. Just before we began I walked over to him and said. "I want to go to Japan."

We performed a series of dances for her and I danced, not as if I was auditioning, but as if I was already her dancer on that stage in Japan. Several factors could have made my belief in myself and my ability waver. I wasn't the size that most dancers are. I was nine years older than her and ten years older than the other backup dancer, and I had absolutely no idea where in the world my passport was. I could have defeated myself before I even began.
She watched us intently with a poker face and whispered back and forth with her existing dancer. When we were done she whispered back and forth with our choreographer. The suspense was intense! When she left, he pulled me to the side and said, "I hope that you have your passport, because you're going to Japan!" Needless to say, the next day I re-applied for my passport and then a few months later I went on that tour which ended up being an awesome and life changing experience.

This may sound cocky, but I believe that I deserve great things. Each morning I walk to my mail box and my post office box thanking God for the good news that's going to be inside before I even open it. This is actually an accomplishment for me because there was a time where I operated in fear and self-doubt, only focusing on the punishments and karma that I thought would come my way for doing things wrong. I'm sure I wasn't alone and I'm also sure that many of you still think and feel this way.

We don't get what we want because we don't believe that we deserve it.

I've come to the conclusion that the only person that can sabotage or foil any of the plans that I have for what I want to achieve is me. The quickest way for me to do that is by not believing in myself. Everything I want, I constantly visualize as already mine. And slowly but surely, and sometimes quickly those things begin to manifest in my life.

Let's not confuse expectation with entitlement. I am grateful for and take great care to maintain and sustain the things that I am blessed with by putting in the necessary work to support my faith. It is also important to be aware that when you ask for something, you put it in writing, or you speak it verbally, you just might get it, so be prepared. We often get what we ask for then don't know what to do with it because we aren't ready for it.

As you work to improve your attitude of expectation make sure that you are simultaneously in a state of preparation. If you want a good mate, work to make yourself great. If you want more money, work to strengthen your financial literacy, reduce or eliminate your debt and be a good steward over what you do have. If you want a new job, start investing in new professional attire now. It's all about your attitude. We attract what we give off. It's the same on the flipside so if you are negative or fearful, prepare to receive just that.

This week I challenge you to change your thoughts, actions and attitudes in such a way that you expect amazing opportunities, relationships, experiences and gifts. Believe that great things are yours to be taken... they are just waiting for you to realize it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Let It Marinate

Life is like a piece of meat.  In order to get the most out of it, there are certain things that need to be done in order to ensure the best possible flavor, texture and satisfaction.  Flavor is all about taste.  When you taste something you experience it and life is all about experiences.  The challenge is making them high quality and meaningful.  Texture is all about the feel of something.  In order to live a fulfilled life, we must tend to our feelings in a healthy way as opposed to ignoring, disregarding them or acting on them before we truly understand them.  Satisfaction is the culmination of everything because at the end of the day, you want to get the most out of every experience which will lead to you feeling great about yourself and your life.  So the question is, how do we make these things happen?  Let’s look at how we prepare a piece of meat.

Step One: Clean the meat. 
Cleaning out your mind and your life can be as simple as making the time to take a deep, cleansing and restorative breath more than once a day, or as complex as clearing out things and people that may be harmful.

Step Two: Season the meat.
Spice things up!  This directly relates to a question that I like to ask myself and others.  Are you just living your life, going through the basic every day motions to get by? Or are you experiencing life to the fullest by savoring every moment?  Add some variety.  If your level of living is on mild, kick things up a notch or two to medium or hot!  Have you been wearing your hair straight with a part on the side for years? Adding the seasoning is as simple as adding some curls or cutting in some layers.  Seasoning is about change.  What can you do to mix things up?

Step Three: Let it marinate.
One of my signature statements when I teach, speak or facilitate a training is, “Let it marinate”.  This basically means to take some time to let it sink in so that you can process your thoughts, reactions and ideas about a particular statement or experience. Too often we go through life without stopping to take the time to reflect on our experiences.  Reflection is a powerful tool because it helps us to learn and grow by thinking about what went well and what we would change or do differently next time. It also gives us an opportunity to celebrate our successes. 

Step Four: Cook the meat.
Cooking the meat represents the actions that we take once we have cleansed, contemplated change, and reflected upon previous experiences. Your cooking, or actions must be well planned and timed.  For instance, if we cook meat too long it burns or comes out tough.  I liken this to when we spend too much time worrying about things that we cannot change or things that are beyond our control.  Or when we sit on an idea or talent too long that we know that we should have released by now to make the world a better place.  If we don’t cook meat long enough or at the proper temperature, it may come out raw and ultimately make us sick.  This parallels our tendency to make decisions and take actions prematurely.  It’s all about timing. There must be a balance.

I could go on and take this as far as eating, digestion and beyond, but I’ll stop at having you consider what the necessary tools are for you to enjoy your dish that is your life.  With meat, you’ll need a fork and a sharp knife.  What utensils will help you to dig in to your life and cut through the literal and figurative clutter? 

This week, my challenge to you is to ask yourself the following questions…

What needs to be cleaned up in my life?
What needs to be changed in my life?
What do I need to spend some time mentally processing?
What is my plan of action?
What tools do I need?

Now let that marinate!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A New Day

Recently I was talking to a friend and fellow motivator who shared how at his job Monday morning is the absolute worst time of the week due to the fact that everyone is upset and depressed because they don’t want to be there.  As positive as he is, one can’t help but be affected by such negative energy as it is contagious.  Finally he told me that when my Monday Morning Motivation message pops up in his inbox, it ends up turning his whole day around.

When I decided to do these messages I never could have imagined the impact that they would make. More than one person has told me how research shows that suicide occurs more often on Mondays than any other day of the week because of that sense of dread and depression that is often referred to as the “Monday Morning Blues.”

I look at Monday in an entirely different way.  I truly believe that our health, wealth and how we feel about our self depends heavily upon how we perceive things. For example, when I hear the term, Monday Morning Blues, I think of how beautiful a blue sky is or that blue is my favorite color as opposed to the negative connotation that the word blue usually holds.  Instead of looking at Monday in a dreadful way, I look at it as a new day and an opportunity for a new beginning that is a gift which we are given each week.

I remember when I was a child, I wanted to ask my mother for something, I can’t recall what it was, but I prefaced it with, “Mom, when it’s 1984 again can I….”  She laughed and let me know that years don’t come back around like months and days do.

Every day is a new day and an opportunity to start all over again, but I feel that Monday is the most powerful because it is the beginning.

How often do we think or say that we wish we had the opportunity to do something all over again? Monday gives us that.  Today I challenge you to think about ways to make the most of Mondays.  I’ll start you off with a few, but the rest is up to you…
  • Re-commit to a life-style change. - Notice that I didn’t say diet.  Focus on fitness in a way that is manageable and realistic enough for you to maintain for life.
  • Do something differently than you did last week. - Use the weekend as a time of reflection on issues that came up throughout the week then use Monday as a day to learn from your mistakes by leaving them behind and moving forward with new goals and action steps.
  • Begin the journey of letting something go that is not good for you.- Perhaps you want to quit smoking or give up sweets. Monday is a great day to begin and even if you slip up during the week, that’s OK because another Monday is on the way for you to give it another try.
So let’s make this Monday a new day and if you find yourself getting off track as the week progresses just remember…another Monday is only 7 days away.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pyramid of Purpose

I love supporting entrepreneurs, but to be completely honest I’ve always been slightly irritated with the pyramid scheme business model.  To my understanding, the basic premise is that the CEO sits at the top and makes all of his/her money by getting people to sign on under them.  Those people make their money by getting even more people to sign up as well.  I’m sure this method works for many, but I’ve never been impressed.

So you can imagine my surprise when someone said that my business of motivating reminded them of a pyramid scheme business model. They pointed out a specific example of how I motivated one person who then went on to motivate another person.  In essence, they believe that I have a group of people that I motivate, who then go on to motivate others, and so on. I’d never looked at it that way, but once I was forced to, it didn’t seem quite as bad.

In my early years as an educator and social worker, my goal was to save the world.  I quickly realized that this was an unrealistic goal.  So I took a step back because I found myself getting far too emotionally attached to and involved in the lives of the children and families that I served.    Many nights I’d cry myself to sleep at the mere thought of some of the things that my students had to deal with.

In my mind, saving the world may be unrealistic, but it’s not impossible.  I had to re-evaluate how I could accomplish this without expending so much emotional energy and ultimately burning myself out. This is what brought me to being an author and a “Motivator.” (I think that might be my new title now since that’s what they called Iyanla Vanzant when they honored her on the Black Girls Rock special on BET.)

When you share your gift with the world, you have no idea how far the reach and how powerful the impact can be.  Think of yourself as the CEO at the top of your own pyramid of purpose.  Whether your audience is your family, your co-workers, your clients, or the masses like me, know that you are making an impact that reaches farther than you can see.  With this being the case we must operate with integrity, because when you are a person of influence, negativity spreads even more rapidly.

This week, I challenge you to ask yourself a couple of important questions…

“What am I passing down from the peak of my pyramid?”

“Are people genuinely benefiting from what I am offering, or is it ultimately all about me?”

As you answer these questions and begin to pass on positivity, keep in mind that a pyramid is nothing without its base or foundation and that the foundation must be strong in order to get to the top.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

B Day

On November 1st, 32 years ago, at Cook County Lying -In Hospital in Chicago, at 1:44 am, I was born to write these Monday Morning Motivational messages for you. 

Birthdays are so much more than just a day to celebrate with gifts and loved ones.  Birthdays are our own personal New Year's Day.  It's a day to reflect and refresh.  A time to think about where we've been and where we want to go. Within that context, I've decided to declare today my B Day, with the letter b standing for far more than just the word birthday.  I want to share this day with you by breaking down a few things that I want to focus on for my personal new year as I am sure that you will be able to benefit from focusing on these things too...

"B" stand for...

Having an even work-life balance is key for mental and physical health.  You may have heard the term, "Work hard, play hard."  This is one mantra that I make sure to adhere too.  Often times we spend far too much energy on one side of the spectrum or the other.  As a result, other things in our life begin to fall out of balance too.  I remember hearing someone speak about how a very prominent Pastor schedules his vacation and locks the date in before he schedules any speaking engagements or anything else at the beginning of the year. This is something that we should all do.  Don't make play an after thought. Play is an equally important part of the human experience.  Making time to play will rejuvenate you and give you the motivation that you need to give it your all when you get back down to business.

One of my new phrases that I like to say is, "Confidence is the new black."  When you wear it, it's a really good look.  Confidence is not something that you can literally wear externally. You put it on on the inside and it's so powerful that it shines right through you and surrounds you with an amazing aura wherever you go.  That state of confidence then translates into the action and attitude of boldness.  We need to stop walking around here acting like we don't know that we deserve the best in life.  With that being the case, we need to know what it is that we want, then not be afraid to ask for it.  We need to open our mouths, speak up, and be more assertive. Everything we've ever wanted, is already ours, it just needs to be taken.  But to get it, we must be bold.

When we don't set boundaries, other will set them for us, and I can guarantee that the one's that others set will not be in our best interest.  We need to begin to set healthy boundaries when it comes to work, family and friends.  If we continue to over extend ourselves we will be of no good to anyone and we will be particularly harmful to ourselves. A few years back I wrote a blog in January called, "Happy NO Year" because the best way to begin to set boundaries is by learning to say "No." Even beyond that, we must realize that when we say "No" that we don't have to follow it with an explanation.  Simply saying "No" is enough. 

Today I challenge you to live a balanced life boldly within healthy boundaries.  Happy B Day!!!