Your identity is who you are; however, it is more than your name, address, and social security number. Your true identity of why you are here lies deep in the recesses of your subconscious and spirit. Oftentimes, we identify ourselves by the difficult life experiences, trials, rejections, and obstacles we’ve had to overcome. When we fail to overcome the obstacles, we then begin to look for our identity in other people and possessions. Once we lose our identity, many negative things can fall into our lives by choice, not by chance. So how can you tell if you are a victim of identity theft? Ask yourself these questions:

Do you worry what others think and ignore your own beliefs, values and opinion?

Do you give more importance to how other people will feel about your decisions rather than considering your own point of view?

Of course we all need to consider other people to be decent and sensitive. But if we care too much what others think, we live by our imaginations of others’ thoughts. Ask yourself this critical question: Are you living a true authentic purposeful life?  Learning to own your identity, and define your passions and purpose, will place you on a path of growth and success that is unparalleled.

We must understand who we are and what we want from our lives and not leave these critical life choices and decisions in the hands of someone else.  As humans, we all need validation, acceptance, and approval from those we love.  But if others neglect to design their own lives, how do we expect them to design ours?  The sooner we let go of what others think and truly believe in ourselves, our dreams, abilities, and authentic gifts, the sooner we will be headed toward the life of our dreams.

tiffanyPicture yourself receiving a beautifully wrapped Tiffany jewelry box. You are so very anxious to open it to retrieve the contents inside. Once the box is opened, and the beautiful 4-carat brilliant rare one-of-a-kind diamond is revealed, you discard the box and cherish, nourish, and take care of the diamond because of its value.

diamond cut37The value of the “rare diamond” appreciates over time. I use this analogy because it describes the value we possess inside of us yet most people place their value on the external extrinsic tangible items and possessions in their life. The power, value, beauty, uniqueness, and one-of-a-kind authenticity we possess on the inside is ours to build up or tear down.

Regardless of what is going on in the world around us (murder, suicide, addiction, bullying, abuse, and toxic mindsets), we have choices of whether we want to get caught up in the vortex of the negativity it brings or we can focus on the internal intrinsic value we possess which is where the true power of who we are, why we’re here, what are our unique gifts, and what difference and contributions we can make in the world lies.

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Resolutions_for_Boomers_large

The baby boomer generation consists of millions of men and women between the ages of 43 to 63.  This aging generation is the largest generation on the planet, and there are many things still left to be done before retirement sets in.  Following are the top ten New Year resolutions for the baby boomer generation:

  • CLEANSE THE TOXIC EMOTIONS

It’s time to release those negative emotions that anchor you to the past.  Letting go of resentment, anger, bitterness, and pain opens up many opportunities for a new life in our latter years.  You can’t change the past, but you can change your reactions and release the hold it has on your life.  Now is the time to enhance your spirituality.  If you don’t have divine guidance in your life, then invite the Holy Spirit in so that you can find the peace-of-mind we all desire.

  • LOSE WEIGHT

It’s now or never!  As baby boomers age, it becomes more critical to focus on health and wellness.  Weight control is an absolute must if we expect to continue to age gracefully and maintain our health and well being.  There are many methods for sustaining a weight loss program.  Setting realistic weight loss goals are fun and attainable.

  • QUIT SMOKING AND/OR DRINKING

This goal is on the minds of many people.  It will be easier for some moreso than others.  If it is necessary to get help, don’t be ashamed to find an AA or support group to help accomplish this goal. After all, the most important step is realization.  Once you’ve taken that first critical step, reach out and ask for help – it’s there!

  • REDUCE DEBT

As baby boomers age and retirement is within view, it is critical to start eliminating some of the accumulated debt.  The best place to begin is with the credit cards.  Start paying more than the minimum payment.  Contact your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate.  Create a new budget and try to pay cash for as much as you possibly can and eliminate using the cards.  As the credit card debt starts to diminish, then you can focus on other larger forms of debt.

  • GET ORGANIZED

The house, your car, your office, your desk at work –  if you’re tired of always losing things, then you fall in this popular category for resolutions.  Start keeping an inventory log of your stuff.  Begin with one room at a time (if you’re trying to organize at home), or begin with one stack at a time (if you’re trying to organize at work).  It took quite awhile to get out of control, so it will, therefore, take time to re-gain control.  Be diligent and stick with it.

  • SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS

Work is great, but as we age, we want to start taking time to smell the flowers.  For baby boomers, our careers are pretty much established, so it’s now time to focus on the more important aspects of life which is our families.  Whether it’s to plan a family night out or to plan a vacation, this resolution is high on the list of many baby boomers.

  • GO BACK TO SCHOOL

If you’ve been dying to get that graduate degree, then this is the year to get it done!  It’s never too late to go back to school and finish what was started many years ago.  This resolution is popular on the minds of more baby boomer men than women.

  • FIND A HOBBY

Work is great, but many baby boomers are anxious to incorporate fun into their lives.  Whether it’s learning to play golf or joining a networking organization, we want the New Year to bring more fun and excitement into our lives.

  • PLAN FOR RETIREMENT

This is the year to focus on 401K and retirement planning.  If the career is moving along well, it’s now time to understand and ensure that retirement is solid and within our grasp.  We may want to incorporate the assistance of a financial planner to help us along this path.  But as baby boomers age, this resolution is becoming a very important one.

  • COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

This is something many baby boomers have always wanted to do, but never had the time.  This New Year will bring about opportunities to find a community organization to associate with.  This is our way of ‘giving back’ for the blessings that have come to us over our many years of career success.


certificationCollege can be both challenging and exciting. For college graduates transitioning into the corporate workplace, the challenges and excitement can turn into outright stress and anxiety. For those considering a career in the technology industry, this article will help with the daunting choice of whether to select a traditional degree program or one of the many certification options available.

Designing a successful career path is a challenge. No matter the industry, the degree to which people know their field directly reflects their abilities to succeed. Therefore, it              is critical to understand exactly what fits with your skills, attributes, work and learning style. A traditional college degree program is an outstanding option for a well-rounded education. However, a certification program demonstrates a competency specifically in one’s chosen industry, so if your desire is to demonstrate a commitment to a specific focus (i.e., networks, desktop, security, etc), then certification programs may be the right fit for you.

Research shows that college does not adequately prepare students for an effective transition from student to professional. College prepares individuals for certain aspects of the corporate workplace, but there remains a tremendous amount of learning that is not being taught in our colleges today. So if you decide to go the traditional college educational route, there are still aspects of your education that will need to be supplemented.

In the IT industry, there are many options for higher education. Traditional college programs have expanded more to offer combined degree/certification programs that focus directly on your desired branch of IT. Microsoft offers a wide variety of certification programs for PC, desktop, and operating system careers (MCSE, MCSA, MCSD, etc). Cisco offers a variety of certification programs for careers in Wide and Local Area networking (CCNA, CCNE, CCNP, etc). There are also Microsoft certification programs for interest of desktop security careers (CEH, ECSA, CISSP, etc). If there is interest in the voice and telecommunications field of study, both Nortel and Cisco have outstanding certification programs.

There are other IT areas of interest which include storage management, application design, e- commerce, web design, and programming just to name a few. But whatever your area of interest, there is an educational program to suit your individual needs. Talk to your counselor, work with a technology career consultant, or conduct research on your own. The important point to keep in mind is that it is critical to select the right education plan for your specific needs.

 


Are you Managing or Leading – Do You Know the Difference?

leadersIt has been many years since the late Stephen Covey introduced the 8th Habit which focuses on “finding your Leadership voice” which would imply that each and every one of us has one, right?  This fact has been up for debate for years depending upon who is offering the advice.

I believe everyone comes into the world with two gifts. One is the gift of life, and the other is the freedom to make choices which leads me to believe that Leadership is a choice.

Many people view management as leadership. It’s not. Leadership comes from influence, and influence comes from anyone at any level in any role. Being open and authentic, helping to lift others, and working toward a common mission builds influence. True leadership comes when those around you are influenced by your life in a positive way:

  • Influence
  • Inspire
  • Empower

LEADERSHIP IS A CHOICE!

In my personal and professional Leadership teachings, I focus on three critical components of leadership:

  • O.U. (Your Own Uniqueness) as a leader and finding your leadership voice
  • Your organization’s leadership voice
  • Helping your employees to find their leadership voice

This is important because finding your voice and inspiring others to find their voice, through effective organizational alignment, is critical to success. You must begin by doing a thorough self-assessment and answering four critical questions:

FOUR CRITICAL QUESTIONS:

  1. Where have I been?
  2. Why am I here?
  3. What can I do?
  4. Where am I going?

“Where have I been” addresses a critical component of success called clarity – how do you come to a place of clarity?  You will be clear when you discover the answer to this question.

“Why am I here” addresses the courage you need in order to make a bold move.  What courage do you currently possess (or need) to take to make a bold move?

“What can I do” will determine the creativity you have inside you.

“Where am I going” is the contribution you want to make as you enter a new phase of your life.

In order for an organization (or individual) to be successful, it begins and ends with you.  You must tap into your inner navigation system – M.A.P. (Mindset/Actions/Passion). It is your roadmap to success, and it lives in you.

You are the C.E.O. (Chief Empowerment Officer) of your life, and finding your Leadership voice is the first step in defining your own unique personal BRAND!


I was having a conversation with a friend recently, and she told me a very mind boggling story.  I want to share it with you….

How often do you allow other people to change your mood?  Do you allow a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss, or an insensitive employee to ruin your day?  Unless you’re the Terminator, for an instant you’re probably set back on your heels.

However, the mark of a successful person is how quickly she/he can get back her/his focus on what’s important.

Five years ago I learned this lesson in the back of a taxicab . Here’s what happened:

I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his breaks, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy.

He was very friendly.

So I asked, ‘Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!’ This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, ‘The Law of the Garbage Truck.’ He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they’ll dump it on you. Don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don’t take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life’s too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so…Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don’t.

Keep Moving Forward, Only Make Sure You Are Going In the Right Direction.

Keep a sweet, sweet spirit in your heart and above all keep the faith…


Corporations spend millions of dollars to develop and build their own unique brands.  We are surrounded by many successful product brands on a daily basis (Shoes, Spirits/Wines, Clothing, Fragrances, etc).  The list is endless.  Branding is a consistent message about “something”.  When we brand ourselves, we send out a consistent message of what we want others to know about us.  Branding doesn’t happen just by deciding it’s a good idea.  There’s a lot of work that goes into it – it’s a process that will take time to develop.  Branding yourself allows others to know who you are and be valued for it.  It helps you attract what you want to become more attractive to others; it inspires confidence and allows you to walk your journey with integrity and confidence; and lastly, it distinguishes you in whatever field you have chosen.

Following are eight critical steps to accomplish in creating your own unique BRAND “YOU”:

 

  1. Dig Deep Inside Yourself To Unearth The Unique “YOU”

The very first step is to model your brand on your authentic self. There’s only one like it in the world, which makes it (1) distinct from any other and (2) something you and only you can pull off. What words speak of your personal value system, that metronome for personal behavior — what you stand for, what you want to live up to, what you consider most important to your inner life and well-being? When you discover what resonates with your soul, trust it. Your challenge is to capture the essence of what you have to offer, create interest and enthusiasm for it, and enhance your image in the business world.  Once you’ve discovered and captured your essence, project this energy out in every occasion and in all of your interactions with others.

  1. Define Your Dreams – Put Them Into Action

You are very likely to get what you ask for, because when you finally uncover and get serious about your heart’s desire, the universe starts listening. When you think of a mission statement, think trumpets in the background, imagine a drum roll. Companies with powerful mission statements and employees that embrace these statements walk the walk and talk the talk. Create both mission and vision statements for yourself and write them out. When you commit your dreams to paper, you release them out into the world. Then when you speak of your dreams you move them another inch closer to reality.

  1. Go After Your Target Audience With A Vengeance

No matter what your brand’s mission or your financial goal or your personal dreams, identifying and earning the devotion of your target audience are the interlocking and necessary means to reaching those objectives. But don’t be unrealistic. Don’t try to be what you are not. If it is a bad fit, it wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Before you try to appeal to your audience, do a 180-degree turn and stand in their shoes.

 

  1. Don’t Crash and Burn—Find Out What’s Stopping You

Fear stops you in your tracks. It’s critical to overcome these inner fears while developing your brand strategy because in many cases the thing you are afraid to do is in fact the one thing you need to do to solidify your brand.

Recruit a Band of Brand Cheerleaders.  The road to success is a lot smoother when it is lined with cavalcades of supportive colleagues and zealous mentors to sing your praises, open doors for you, and provide sage advice. Look for guides, teachers and promoters among your friends, your family, and your colleagues to smooth your path and to help create an atmosphere for success. Be a good student — otherwise your mentor will lose interest. Listen to her advice and then put that advice into action!

 

  1. Learn the Secrets to Packaging Your Brand

In any business situation, appearances count, big-time. Your challenge is two-fold: to make your exterior appealing to your target audience, and to make sure your exterior is as much a genuine reflection of your interior as possible. What does your audience want to see? What kind of package does it respond to, feel safe with, understand, respect, admire? What kind of package can you put together to motivate, or even excite, your audience?

  1. Get Comfortable in Your Own Skin

So you’re flawed. Who isn’t? Cultivate a personal style, identify your own personality, accept its markers and integrate them into your brand strategy. Do you sparkle? Do you demonstrate your creativity or your competence in action and word? Are you curious, earnest, self-deprecating, sure of yourself, steady, clever, or adventurous — and how do you show it? A lot of people think charisma is something you are born with — and they’re right. But what not everyone knows is that we’re all born with it. Whether or not we all use it is another question.

  1. Devise a Plan and Get On With It!

Brand success asks you to think about your brand in this very intense, obsessive way: writing it down, talking it up, and putting it out in the universe to fulfill its destiny. Managing yourself, your product, your time, your family, the information you receive is a lot, but as CEO of your life, who else is going to do it? Keep your eye on the prize and constantly and consistently work towards that end. Hey, no one said branding was easy…but the rewards for this effort are HUGE.


Do you find it difficult to provide direction to your employees without coming across as bossy or overbearing? Do you struggle to find the right words to motivate others without sounding desperate? With a strong handle on how to effectively use assertive communication skills, every manager can learn to take a positive approach to leading employees toward success while maintaining a balanced and productive team.

Managers generally fall into one of three groups — aggressive, passive, or assertive. Those who are too aggressive may be successful in completing short-term goals, but often struggle to maintain positive relationships with their employees over time. Managers who are too passive have no problem building relationships, but find it challenging to motivate others and solve problems. It is assertive managers that have the ability provide guidance to their employees to get the job done while commanding respect.

An organization’s success depends on its managers’ ability to lead, and this leadership is a combination of their communication skills, ability to build relationships, and composure when handling conflict. Managers who can find a balance between aggressive and passive management styles will build bridges, mend fences, and lead your organization confidently and effectively.

Following are essential tools and skills to ensure effective communication for your team:

Develop Your Listening Skills – Statistics reveal that we spend approx 40 to 60% of our time listening at work yet we only listen at a 25% efficiency rate.  When we fail to listen effectively, it could lead to conflict, miscommunication, re-work, low productivity, and many other damaging effects to the team.  Tips for effective listening:

  1. Maintain good eye contact
  2. Do not interrupt the speaker
  3. Ask clarifying questions if you do not understand and paraphrase
  4. Be present (wait until the speaker is finish before formulating your response)
  5. Show empathy (understand what the speaker is feeling)
  6. Listen with your ears and your heart (read the non-verbals)

Control Your Emotions – Emotional intelligence is essential for great communications.  Many research findings indicate that a high EQ (emotional quotient) is a better indicator of success than IQ (intelligence quotient); and this is due to the fact that people are unique and different and we accomplish more when we learn to manage our own emotions and connect with the emotions of others.

Learn Assertiveness Skills – Passive and aggressive forms of communication are not effective due to the fact that passive individuals allow others to violate their rights and invade their boundaries. This could lead to internal stress and resentment.  Aggressive behavior, on the other hand alienates individuals and creates a hostile work environment.

Be respectful of others – Celebrate the differences.  We are all unique in our work styles and personalities.  When we learn to respect people for who they are, it creates an atmosphere of collaboration and camaraderie.

Use Email Effectively – Never attempt to settle conflict via email.  Communication consists of works, tone, and body language.  Email leaves everything up to interpretation, and it is dangerous to risk damaging a relationship by discussing conflict via email.  Either call the individual or speak to them face-to-face.

With the right skills and mindset, your organization can set the benchmark for a great place to work.  Effective communication is the foundation and core backbone of all successful organizations.  It creates an atmosphere conducive for learning, development, idea sharing, and most importantly, consistent growth.


We know that common wisdom has dictated that emotions have “no place” in the workplace, but in reality, we encounter feelings that are out of control each day at work.  Work is a target-rich environment for experiences that generate emotion.  The goal is not to avoid feelings – the goal is to manage emotions so that conflict does not arise from the situation.

Emotional intelligence is a hot topic, and it is also a competency that is in high demand at work.  Employers seek individuals who understand, and implement, this skill.  Studies have shown that employees deal with anger on the job 86% of the time which makes this skill extremely necessary in order to enhance morale and productivity.

Following are tips for gaining (and keeping) control of your emotions at all times:

Start Outside the Job – Good physical and emotional health requires a healthy diet, exercise, spending quality time with loved ones, and carving out “alone time.” Take an inventory of your food choices, physical activity, and social support.  If there are any areas that are weak, begin there to ensure your emotions have a healthy starting point.

Engage in Relaxing Activities – Statistics show that stress reductions activities are the foundation for a high EQ (emotional quotient).   Whether it’s spending quality time with a friend or enjoying an afternoon of shopping or golf alone, it’s critical to carve out time to have fun and take your mind off work.

Get Quality Sleep – Sleeping at night for an extended 7 or 8 hours is a critical element for your overall health, especially emotions.  A good night’s sleep can cure stress and feelings over inadequacy at work.

Take a Vacation – Whether it’s short or extended, time away from work will help you appreciate the job more once you return.  Working for years with no time off for vacation can cause resentment, stress, and the probability of sensitivity and emotional upheaval increased 10-fold.

As human beings, we are going to experience moments when we are in the grip of emotions, usually fear, anxiety, anger, or regret.  Often, there is a cascade—we express one intense feeling, such as anger, then regret our outburst and shift into anxiety and shame.  Shame is a difficult emotion.  Learning to identify your triggers, creating critical awareness, reaching out to others, and talking about your feelings are all critical aspects of maintaining control.  With a strategy and clear (written) goals, anyone can use self-management of emotions as a competitive advantage to progress toward your personal and professional objectives.

 


Check out my life inspiring story in Ebony Magazine, August 2010

CLICK THE TITLE BELOW TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE!

WHO OWNS YOUR IDENTITY?

Who Owns Your Identity?


Have you ever wondered why it’s so difficult to let go of something that hurts?  Letting go of pain is a very difficult (but necessary) step that we will be faced with several times throughout our lives.  When things seem to be falling apart, there’s always the impulse to hold on, because it’s familiar to you.  But unfortunately, holding on can cause more pain.  In order to feel better, we must learn to think better.  Sometimes it seems easier to just keep holding on to him, to her, to it, to the job, to long-time friends, to the way it was, or how you want it to be.  But in order to get beyond the pain, you will have to let go of whatever is standing in your way or causing the problem.  The anchor around your ankles will remain there until you locate the key and release them because the toxic emotions that accompany the pain will weigh you down blocking your success!

As humans, we have a strong need to be accepted, loved, and appreciated – in our personal relationships, our jobs and careers.  When we discover that something works well for us, validates us, and makes us feel worthy, we tend to attach ourselves to it in an unhealthy way.  And once the “situation” turns toxic and stops working, we continue to hold on hoping, praying, believing, and wishing that it would get better and return to the way it used to be.  But change happens whether we like it or not.  And sometimes the change is not in our best interest.  We have control to make conscious decisions to LET GO of our pain, and get past our past!  We tell ourselves things like “it’s too difficult”, “no one will love me like he/she did”, I’ll do next month or next year”, “I won’t find another job”, or the most popular one of all “I’M AFRAID”.  Instead of taking control, we go the opposite direction and try to mask the pain with addictive substances like alcohol, drugs, or food.   Regardless of the circumstances, there is only one way to let go of holding on, and it involves changing your mindset and belief about whatever you’re holding onto.

Face it – letting go is scary. Ok, so now you know what you’re dealing with.  You know it’s not going to be easy.  So strengthen up and get ready for a ride because on the other side is freedom, peace-of-mind, and a life of abundant joy.  Take small steps to begin releasing old behavior patterns. Letting go is in fact a shift in consciousness that’s a critical part of how you will solve the problem.

 Stepping out of your comfort zone requires strength, persistence, and most importantly – commitment.  There’s nothing “comfortable” about a comfort zone unless it’s a healthy comfort zone.  Continuing to hold on to toxic behaviors and beliefs will eventually cause deterioration in your mental and physical health.

 So how can you begin to fix it?

Following are a few simple initial steps to take to start you on the road toward healing:

  • Let it out – it’s okay to cry and feel the hurt
  • Once you’ve felt it and faced it, tell yourself, “it’s time to fix it”
  • Begin each morning with a positive statement “today I’m empowered!”
  • Join a networking organization or a group that will encourage and uplift you
  • If you have a hobby, spend extra time doing it
  • Have a night out with our friends
  • Learn to connect with your higher power – pray
  • Learn to meditate – it’s very easy
  • Learn to relax – statistics show it improves your physical health

 Learning to let go of what’s already gone is a major step in taking control of your life.  You have a lot to gain and the only thing you can count on losing is your sanity, a peaceful life, and a happiness that is priceless!

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