In a shock to everyone I know, I missed the Emmy's this year. It is a shock because I am actually known for my Award Show parties. Sadly, this meant that I had to watch clips afterwards, What really makes this sad is the fact that it really felt like the Year of the Woman (again), at least from social media and traditional media following the event.
Obviously everyone has been talking about the speech made by Viola Davis which and for good reason, it was beautiful, poignant and thought provoking. It aligned so clearly with not just the issues of women of color on television and movies but the entire culture of race continue as a global community to perpetuate. Between the increasing racial tensions in our country with regard to law enforcement to the Syrian Refugee Crisis we remain a world where hate spreads.
If you were to ask most people if they are filled with hate or are prejudiced against other people, they will say no. Nobody admits to being hateful. They make excuses for what they do based on a variety of experiences, religion, history etc. Think about it, most people will admonish the atrocities of World War II and the concentration camps or the Civil Rights Movement yet so many are standing by and watching as the refugees are hit with fire hoses and dogs or another video of a black American being beaten or killed by an officer of the law.
So what does all of this have to do with the title of this post?
The other speech that impacted me but got less coverage was that of Regina King. Her speech was not necessarily out of the ordinary for an acceptance speech except for her seemingly very sincere shock at having won. There was one section/line though that stopped me.
It is a small but powerful sentence that I haven't been able to get my mind off of it since. It seems that we hear and see in the media a lot of the negatives and burdens of being a woman but rarely see the "power and blessing" being extolled. It is why I think this phrase needs more attention.
I study, speak and educate on women and it took me a minute to determine if I had ever expressed the power and blessing I feel being a woman. My stomach dropped as I realized that I don't honor that enough. Women are the most powerful force in the globe. Many will argue with me I am sure but let's really think about here.
1st and foremost we are the caretakers of the world. Without women, our children wouldn't become healthy and contributing adults to society. Women literally are raising the future.
We are responsible for 80% of all purchases
advertiser's want our money
We have a seat at the table - in some cases at the head of the table
We are big in numbers and we are good at organizing around a cause
we have more women in high places
the power to influence - in my mind, women are the most influential people and yet in the past have never received credit for this
We are educated
70% of all high school valedictorians are women
62% of all associates degrees
57% of all bachelors degrees
63% of masters degrees
53% doctoral degrees
now that is power...
So that is the power of being a woman, let's talk about the blessings.
It's a blessing because we have a voice and using that voice is changing the world in big ways. I feel blessed to call myself a woman when I see all of the amazing things women are doing. I feel blessed to be/have:
We are blessed enough to live in a time where we can get educated and fight for a career, a family and more and there is power in all of that
lots of conversations around women and girls now
to have a voice
empathetic to others
to be a caretaker
to be able to like sports and wear nail polish at the same time
that women in my generation earn more than our mother's and grandmother's on average and get to spend that money the way we want and still are selfless enough take care of everyone around us
I don't have to wear heels to cook in ( I actually don't have to cook) but I can
I can do anything I want but I don't have to do anything I don't want to do
The real blessing in my life is that I get to help other girls and women by sharing my experiences
There is power and blessings in being whoever we are and it is imperative that we dig in to realize what it means to us so that we can celebrate and express gratitude for who and what we are. Once we realize our own blessings we can be more empathetic to others and open up opportunities for people who don't have them; whether it is welcoming refugees into our country and caring for them, volunteering our time to help others or opening up roles for women of color and other individuals in our art. You may say these have nothing to do with each other but the do. The art that these women do open our eyes to the experiences of others.
Quick tip, be sure to look up the show Regina won her Emmy for, American Crime. It was an amazing look inside ALL sides of a single situation and the struggles we still see around race and gender in this country.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I want to have a life of experiences. I'm talking about big, scare the crap out of you, never regret missing out experiences. I do my best to do the things I have always wished I could do. Here’s the thing though, I let life get in the way sometimes. I don’t know why, but I guess I just let fear and anxiety get in my way. I suppose I’m not alone in this. There’s a multi-million dollar book industry out there called “self help” to prove that I’m not alone. We really are our worst enemy sometimes, or at the very least our biggest obstacle.
Why do we block our blessings when they are so obviously heading straight for us like a freight train? What are we so afraid of? Better yet, how do we move past this type of thinking? How do we move from fantasizing about the life we want and start living the life we want?
I saw this sign at the Denver airport that said “no waiting” and it suddenly clicked. I now knew the answer to everything. I took my picture which you can see below and went on my way. For weeks afterward I sat myself down to reflect on what appeared so simple at the airport. Only it didn’t seem so simple anymore. “No Waiting”. The phrase and the picture (a photographic gem if I do say so myself. Thanks Hipstamatic) speak to me. I just can’t seem to fully hear what the words are really saying. It’s almost as if it is a whisper or worse, a riddle that I have to figure out. It can’t really be that easy, can it? Stop waiting?
Or can it?
What happens if we stop waiting? Well…I suppose we stop waiting! But what are we waiting for anyways? Someone to tell us it’s okay to be happy, successful, content, delighted, loved? Come on, we are grown ass men & women here (excuse my language). We know our worth, right? We know that we deserve all of those things I listed and much more, right? We tell our friends and loved ones all the time, that they deserve better than what they are accepting, don’t we believe the same for ourselves?
I think we do. I KNOW I do.
So, after a lot of time trying to complicate the matter I have decided to follow the direction of the sign, as I am convinced that it was just that, a sign. I am not going to wait. I’m gonna stop waiting for life to happen. I’m gonna stop waiting for someone to tell me what I think I want to hear. I’m gonna stop waiting for something easy to come along.
Now I’ve heard it all before, “you have to be patient” but I believe that there is a difference between patience and ambivalence. I think people live lives of ambivalence a lot of the time, waiting for someone, anyone to tell them it’s okay to LIVE and enjoy life, to experience it in all of its glory. So I will exercise patience when it is needed, but I will no longer wait for the sake of waiting.
I’m going after the life I want. I’m taking every opportunity to grab every piece of happiness, love, pure unadulterated joy, success and delight that I can and I’m bringing you with me, because…well why not?
Before I leave, I thought I would share a few quotes about waiting from some people who know/knew what they were talking about.
So, my question for all of today is...
what are WE waiting for?
I should start this post by coming clean. I am so guilty of this that my picture should probably be next to the definition in Webster's Dictionary.
It is because of the fact that I am basically an expert in this that I can give advice on why it is just not cool. First, let me explain. Verbal diarrhea sounds pretty gross. It is supposed to. You have experienced it before I'm sure. It is when someone feels they have to speak about everything and they just keep talking and adding so much information that it causes a mental overload in the people who are listening. Once they are done talking, you actually feel like they just threw up (their words) all over you and now you want to take a shower because you just feel gross.
One of my motto's has always been to stand up, speak up; stand out, speak out. so you can imagine why this one might be a struggle for me. In the workplace there are generally three types of people in a conference room.
the person who diligently takes notes and nods their head from time to time but says very little
the person who participates sparingly and calculated, waiting first for what the boss and everyone is going to say
then there are the people that have to speak so bad that they sometimes have to sit on their hands to stop themselves from jumping in
yes I like to talk and yes I have a perspective and opinion and I suppose I just feel like if I don't say anything nobody will know that. This by the way is perfectly normal and acceptable. When it gets to be too much is when it starts to backfire against you. I am also very fond of the saying
You don't have to tell everyone, everything.
I am fond of it because it is something I need to be reminded of constantly. When you tell everyone everything some interesting stuff starts to come to the surface
you start to become the white noise in the room
they stop thinking what you have to say is important or valuable to the discussion because you couldn't possibly have an opinion on everything and be right
people start to get antagonistic just to see if they can get you rattled
it doesn't create a collaborative environment
other group members will back up, not wanting to delve in to the discussion that you may be so passionate about for fear of getting cut off
you may go one step too far in what you say and kill your whole case
How does a serial verbal up-chucker move past their tendencies?
Like most things in life, this has a simple solve. Let me explain. Most people enter a meeting room with some sort of agenda. You want the other people in the room to buy into your idea, appreciate the work you put into something or help you get something off the ground. When you have verbal diarrhea, you come in hot, guns blazing for battle. This is before you even know if a battle is necessary, it puts people on edge.
If you prepare for the battle, however, things go differently. Understand what your goals are going to be before you head in to your next meeting, ask yourself one or more of the following questions:
have i eaten yet?
I know you're laughing at this but it's like the Snickers commercial says; "you're not yourself when you're hungry". If you're going to get people to collaborate with you then you need to be on your A game, so get something in your belly. Besides, food is amazing so why wouldn't you want to be eating all the time?
It is also good to be well hydrated and have used the restroom, this might take a while.
who do i expect will be in the room & who do i expect will object to what i am bringing to the table?
This is sort of a "know your allies", "know your enemies" kind of approach. There is nothing worse than going to battle in the boardroom and watching someone switch sides in the middle. It throws you off you game and is often difficult to recover from so know who you are going up against. Know their arguments, position and where they are vulnerable or open to suggestion.
what is your point? what is your ultimate takeaway?
the things that almost always accompanies verbal diarrhea is panic, fear, a bad feeling in your stomach that you aren't being heard or not being understood. What if that is your own fault? What if you didn't come in with a clear idea and path to explain your position? You think that you are prepared but are you really? I will admit, I am an extremely passionate person. I will fight to the death for what I believe in with high emotions and vigor. That being said I have been in situations where someone came back with some good counterpoints and I was there with my mouth open and nothing coming out because they stumped me. I under estimated the objections to what I was bringing to the table and then wasn't prepared to argue against them. Rookie Mistake.
I guess what I am really trying to say here in WAY TOO MANY WORDS...(hard habit to break), is be aware and keep the following in mind...
be aware of your surroundings
know who you are going after
know what you really want to happen
know when you have lost your audience
know that sometimes silence is best
I realize I am trying to blog for the masses, but I will readily admit that this one is for me. Everyone has a journey and if you're lucky it takes a long time to get to the end. Make sure you are enjoying the view and course correcting along the way.
you came back for part 2. YEAH!
here's where we left off... (if you missed Wednesday's part one, go read it so you can catch up.)
when it happens to you...
I was struggling at work. It wasn't WITH the work necessarily. That was always the easy part. I was struggling with the structure around me and the way in which business was done. This is not to say my way was right, it is simply saying that I wasn't used to what was happening and it confounded me.
You see, in my experience, work had always been somewhat easy. I got the job, I went in, worked hard, got bored, asked for more, did more and then typically moved on to something new. Here I was in a job that I loved but the environment was all wrong. For the first time in my career it felt as if people were judging me. It felt like people didn't like me. I understand that in the professional world "being liked" should not be what keeps you up at night and normally it wouldn't. I am pretty confident in who I am and I know that I am not for everyone but at work, I had never had to deal with that.
On a weekly, sometimes daily basis, I was told one or more of the following things:
- you are too aggressive
- maybe if you toned it down a bit, people would be more receptive
- they think you are a bitch
- why don't you ask (fill in the blank with any guy's name) to help
- he got promoted because he had more experience (despite having less education and work experience than me)
- we just really need you to be less emotional
- you shouldn't care so much
- You are really good at what you do but we just need you to change this one little thing
- your personality just doesn't mesh well here
- some people think you are too harsh, I don't but "some" people do
I would come home every night and feel like I had gone a few rounds in a boxing ring. Wasn't I hired because I was aggressive? Wasn't I hired because I am good and show results? Should I be worried that people don't "like" me? Why in the heck should I not "care" about what I am doing? Wait, why wasn't I promoted?
I think this happens a lot to women, maybe not this exact thing but the idea that at some point at work, you are told to act different than who you are and you are done in so in a way that wouldn't have been said if you were a guy. Heck, some of the guys I worked with literally would go into my bosses office and FART, yes FART and they would laugh with the boss about it. First of all WHAT? or to stay with the theme...
I am not kidding. When we find ourselves in these situations (not the farting, the stuff before that) MOST women, start to question their qualifications and value. They feel the need to justify themselves and the make accommodations that men wouldn't. But why wouldn't we?
For example, how many times have you been in a meeting, maybe you are the only woman, and you are the one is asked to take notes or call for lunch? In my entire 20 plus year career I have NEVER seen a guy take meeting notes OR order lunch. NEVER! We are not "just one of the guys" and apparently that is less somehow.
These things might seem small to some but they really add up to a lot and they are why teaching our daughters to be leaders is so important. We will not become leaders if we do not acknowledge what we bring to the table. We have to find a way to move past the ridiculousness of experiences like the one I explained.
I know what you're thinking, was it really that easy for me to just "get past it"?
I was upset. I was confused and don't tell anyone, but I basically cried on my drive home every single night. This was not what I signed up for. I really had a crisis of confidence and I am NOT a person who has a confidence issue at work. But I felt like I was just hanging there and since I knew this was not me I had to develop a game plan. Something had to change and unfortunately I have yet to secure a super power that allows me to bend people at my will. This means...
i couldn't just hang there anymore...i had to be the change.
to be continued...
next we'll talk about ways to change our attitude, outlook & responses in the workplace so that we can continue our upward climbs on those ladders we're always hearing about. Till Then...
Recently I found a survey done on Linkedin. The survey asked 8,000 people around the globe what they dreamt of being when they were kids. Can you guess what types of answers came in? If you look at the list, you might discover one that was on your wish list. However, the survey also discovered that only 8.9% of the respondents actually work in the field they dreamt of. Why have so many of us abandoned the dreams we had when we were young?
The survey gave a number of reasons for the low percentage. They ranged from changing interests, difficulty getting a job, expensive to go after their dream (think cost of college).Of course some had concerns over money. But regardless of the reason, it is sad to see so many move away from their dreams, especially when you consider the quote below.
I believe one reason for this is that we are asking the wrong question. Why do we ask kids what "JOB" they want to have when they grow up? Shouldn't we instead be asking them what they like to do NOW? Shouldn't we be asking them what they like to do? We should even be asking questions like what do they think they are good at or what do they lose time doing? It is crucial that we ask them these questions, not just once but frequently
When I found my purpose/passion a few years ago, everything came into focus. I realized I was put on this earth to TALK. I should note that I discovered this while on stage in front of 400 people in a Marriott conference room in North Carolina. I call it my "Beyonce Moment" because it was in that moment on stage when I actually had a conversation with myself.
The truth is I felt like this must be what it's like to be living in your purpose. It was life altering but it also hit me like a ton of bricks. How had I never realized this? Every job I had ever imagined myself in was centered around talking (SNL cast member, Broadway star, the next Barbara Walters, a lawyer...you get the point). To make matters worse, I asked my Mom when she knew I was a talker. She didn't answer me, instead she texted me this picture of my baby book. You'll notice it says that I started talking at 6 months! Did you know the average baby starts talking at 18 months? (Yes, I looked it up). It was always there. I wasn't paying attention because I wasn't looking for what I was good at or what I loved doing, I was looking for a job.
In an effort to help other people find their purpose, I want to share a few of the questions I ask myself. It is important to dig deep and understand what the questions really mean. I keep a journal for just this purpose. Each year I ask myself the same questions. (these are just a few of them) I do this so I can make sure I am not missing anything and I am moving in the right direction.
What did you want to be and what are you doing to make your dreams real? Tell me in the comments.
P.S. I have decided not to suggest a book today but instead I want to compel you to pick up your own journal and start answering your questions now. It is never to late to go for your purpose.It's yours nobody else's. You have to pick the journal that is best for you, but if you want a suggestion, check out Compendium who makes some great books to help inspire you in your writing. Click on the image to find all sorts of great journals.