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What’s Blocking You? Your Attitude?

Attitude-Word-Cloud“It is not your aptitude, it’s your attitude”. How many times have you heard that phrase?  I can’t remember exactly how many times I have heard the phrase repeated but I know it has to be over 500 times. I have heard the phrase proclaimed from the pulpit, broadcasted from TV, shared in the classroom, popularized in books and admonished at home. It was a mantra that most leaders touted to the masses and the mantra promoted on billboards. In the 80s and even in some circles today, it was the “in” phrase, the buzz phrase, used by motivators, teachers, preachers and anybody in authority. And even those who had never been in corporate America or in leadership positions had their own way of sharing the same advice. They would tell us to “watch yourself” and all of us, especially my friends, knew what those 2 words meant.  Although our parents and grandparents never worked in Corporate America, they had wisdom; they understood the “system” without ever working in the system.  They had gained insight from years of working around the movers and shakers and their advice was always helpful, strategic, and relevant.

I knew having a good attitude was important. When I started my career in corporate America, I was told that my attitude would determine my altitude, my future. I was told, but really warned: if you want to climb the corporate ladder, watch your disposition and monitor your behavior.  And since there were few women and even fewer African Americans in the pharmaceutical industry in the 1980s, I was given a few more instructions about having and displaying a good attitude. Due to socially accepted sexism and racism in the 1980’s, there were a few more rules for me to follow, and a few more ways for me to display a “good attitude”. Because of who I was and because of who society thought I was or really convinced I was, I had to do some extra stuff to prove that my attitude was positive.  For some reason, it was my responsibility to make sure others felt comfortable being around me even though it was one of me and hundreds of them. Trust me, I felt the pressure.

attitudeI must admit that having a good attitude was pretty confusing for a young 22-year old woman entering the corporate world. My entrance was made even harder by the advice I received from my white male mentors who sometimes gave contradictory advice. I was warned to be visible but not too vocal. Of course, I had no idea what “too vocal” meant. I was told to stand out but not too much.  Huh? What did that mean?  I was told to smile but not to show too many teeth. I practiced smiling hundreds of times but I never understood how wide was too wide.  I was taught how to dress and how to look confident but not too cocky around the powerbrokers.  I was even admonished to watch my speech patterns and to shy away from any “black talk”, which was their way of me reminding me never to use slang.

You know that last admonition especially got under my skin, and of course, I was deeply offended. I wanted to say “man, I am a recent college graduate but I am not a fool.  I am a black woman in America and I have been taught, really drilled, on how to navigate around society’s myopic beliefs since I was born”. I also wanted to ask “do you give the white women the same insulting instructions, or just me?” But I kept quiet; I listened and took notes.

I was given a litany of unofficial “I will deny it if you ever mention it” lists, of do’s and don’ts to ensure that I was perceived by the decision makers as having a “good attitude”. In so many ways and in so many words, I was cautioned, but sometimes I felt as if I was threatened, about my attitude. It was clear that my attitude could be my greatest asset or my Achilles heel; in my case, my attitude was both.

I can’t really sayattitude_is_everything1 that I heeded all of the advice of my mentors until I reached my late twenties.  I was an idealist because my parents raised me to believe that I had unlimited potential and that I should never settle for mediocrity. They taught me to never live my life based on limits established by OTHERS, and so I worked my butt off.  I was optimistic, impressionable and determined.  I really thought my education and expertise would be enough to move up the corporate ladder. I believed that my proficiency and competency would be recognized and rewarded with big raises, huge bonuses and coveted promotions. Boy, was I wrong! My skills were applauded, but it was my spirit, but really how my spirit was perceived, that limited my ascension. No, it was not my talent that stunted my success, it was my temperament, but really their perception of my temperament, that caused my advancement delays. It was the perceptions of people who didn’t know how to deal with difference and diversity that hindered my career. But that’s another book right?

I tried to have the “right attitude”. I was friendly and I was approachable. I laughed at all of the jokes, attended all of the unofficial, but official, gatherings and played the political games. I tried to fit in even though it was obvious that my gender and color disqualified me from certain conversations and barred me from certain positions. However, I was allowed to exist, albeit marginally, in some corporate circles. But that’s another story too. I will say more about those experiences in my next book.

But over the years, what I learned was that having a “good attitude” was totally subjective; there was not one definition or standard that applied to all organizations. The lack of consistency and the ambiguity made having or portraying a “good attitude” tough or nearly impossible. And most of all, the inconsistency made attempting to convey positivity emotionally draining; it was a struggle. Because really, how could I comply with a definition that was ambiguous, mutable and subject to the whims of observers who didn’t know me or more importantly, who really didn’t know themselves? Hard question, right?

attitude2So, how do we know if our attitudes are positive, especially since what is appreciated and acceptable in one organization is a CLIM (career limiting move) in another? How do we navigate corporate cultures and office politics so that we are viewed as receptive, pleasant, collaborative and approachable? How do we present ourselves in the most positive light to potential investors, potential clients and potential business partners?

I wish I knew all of the answers but I don’t. But almost 30 years in corporate America have taught me one important lesson: don’t worry so much about what’s going on around you, be more concerned about what’s going on in you.  Yes, monitor your spirit because your spirit is the only thing that you can control. It’s the only thing that you can truly manage and protect– for better or worse. It the only thing that you can shift and adjust to accommodate situations and circumstances. Your spirit and the responsibility of your spirit is yours and yours alone.

So in the midst of inconsistent definitions and subjective standards, how do we make sure we develop and maintain  “good attitudes”? How do we project a spirit of positivity and abundance so that we attract wealth, nurture healthy relationships, allow space for love, encourage collaboration and welcome support?  In others words, how do we cultivate positive attitudes despite the vicissitudes of life that allow us to soar?

attitude is achoice I believe that there are 3 main ways.  First, I believe having a positive attitude is a result of knowing who you are as a person; knowing who you really are at your spiritual core.   I believe that having a positive attitude comes from a deep-rooted knowing that you are amazing, accomplished and armed for victory, achievement and significance.  It comes from a deep knowing in the pit of your stomach that you are destined for greatness, and understanding that your greatness is not predicted nor defined by profits, promotions, positions, possessions and people.

I also believe having a positive attitude comes from knowing that no one determines your greatness; only you do. And that knowing liberates you from changing and contorting your spirit to fit societal norms that are limiting at best, and confining at worse.  Trust me, when we truly know our value and when we like ourselves, accept ourselves, and celebrate ourselves, we have an inner joy that is unspeakable, untouchable, and unparalleled. Now how is that for a positive attitude? A positive attitude is a result of YOU  knowing YOU!

atitudewithtthumbThe second way to ensure that we have a positive attitude is to know our purpose, our divine WHY? When we are clear about our divine WHY, our divine assignment, we feel courageous enough to accept our divine missions; we feel guided. We feel  a “drawing” or a pull in our spirits, and if we follow that pull, we feel totally aligned and congruent with God’s plan for our lives. And because we feel focused, directed and engaged, we naturally become more enthusiastic, emboldened and energized about life. We invest in ourselves, we commit to oursevles and most of all, we understand ourselves. We don’t feel as if we are floundering, scattered, mismatched and out of sync with our very souls. We feel relevant, real, relaxed and ready to pursue our God-given agendas with vigor because we know that we are following God’s will for our lives. I truly believe that feeling connected and actively engaged in our divine purpose, our divine WHY, satisfies a deep longing in our souls; that satisfaction is the origin of a positive attitude. A positive attitude comes from knowing and living your divine WHY!

Finally, I believe having a positive attitude emanates from God. Even though we may have or use different names to describe the Spirit, God is the author and creator of everything. To me, God is!  And God gave all of us a promise:   that we would be the head and never the tail. Knowing and believing that we will be elevated, empowered and positioned for the best of what God has in store for us, if we are willing to accept it, guarantees a positive life, and consequently a positive attitude.  (Just for the record, I didn’t say an easy, stress-free life). Knowing that God is in us, with us and goes before us reminds us that we are not alone as we travel on this journey called life. A positive attitude comes from knowing that God IS and from knowing that you are.

 
soarattitudEarl Nightingale said it best: “Attitude is not the result of success; success is the result of a great attitude”. So have a great attitude! Know who you are, accept your divine assignment, but most of all, believe in your God-given promise.  Go, grow and live your life without the demands, dictates and directions of those who may never appreciate you, applaud you or even acknowledge you.  Develop and maintain a positive attitude based on your inner foundation and your own inner knowing of who you are. Believe me, that’s where your joy lies and that inner joy is what generates a positive attitude that is safe from the distractions and definitions of the world.

Have a Positive Attitude! Dare to Soar Higher! Success awaits you.

Join us on Saturday, Sept 19th, when Kim J. King and I will discuss the importance of Purpose, Passion and Power. You can register at the Event Tab.

Blessings to you always!

SharRon

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What’s Blocking You? (Who Are You Hanging With?) – Part 3

Royalty-free 3d people computer generated clipart picture image of four orange people holding hands while standing on connected blue puzzle pieces, symbolizing teamwork, and interlinking for seo website marketing.Moving forward in our lives is not always easy. Even when we know exactly what we want to do or where we want to go, making our dreams a reality can seem impossible, impractical and just downright irrational. At least, that has been my experience. But success, however you define it, is within your reach if you know what’s blocking you or if you know what has the potential to block you. Do you agree?

In the beginning of the “What’s Blocking You” series, we talked about the importance of knowing who you are and being self-aware.  I personally believe that SELF-AWARENESS is the gateway to true wisdom, true power and true understanding.  Through self-awareness we better appreciate our history, needs, desires, talents and skills which help us create life strategies to enjoy lives of abundance and prosperity. Knowing ourselves also helps us formulate our plans, pursue our goals and execute our tactics based on our temperaments, passions and divine assignments. Never forget that you can only “do you” if you really know who YOU are and WHAT you need. Self-Awareness is vital.

The second step we discussed was taking ACTION. I heard it said many times before that knowing what you want is easy, BUT knowing how to get what you want is hard. Yes, the “HOW” factor is what feels so intimidating and overwhelming that we are tempted to throw in the towel and abandon our dreams.  For most people, the “HOW” is what hinders us, hurts us and halts us.  The “HOW” is what prevents us from sharing our unique gifts with the world.

I am not underestimating the “HOW” conundrum, no not at all.  The “HOW” is indeed a challenge but it doesn’t have to be a roadblock. Here’s the truth: most successful people never know exactly what to do all of the time. On their road to success and significance, many times they only see the next step in front of them, not the entire staircase. But, successful people trust the process. They trust that the next steps will be realized and revealed when needed to ensure their success. Trust me – successful people know that THEY don’t know it all, but they are confident that they know ENOUGH to get started. And, knowing enough IS enough to activate your dreams.

teamSo take inventory of what you know and why you know; initially focus on those two variables.  I am confident that you will discover that you already know a lot, and you will also realize that God has already endowed you with enough wisdom to win. Trust that the seeds ( your gifts and talents) of your harvest (your success) were planted in your spirit before you were born.  The seeds were encoded in your DNA. So let the seeds take root in your spirit. Water the seeds, nurture them and watch them grow.

The third step is to choose the right ASSOCIATES. Here is where things get tricky and here is where we get tested. The research suggests that you and I are the sum total of the 5 people we hang around the most. Interesting right? So let’s be honest. When you survey the people closest to you, are those people growing emotionally, spiritually, intellectually or financially? Do the people that you associate with the most have a commitment to greatness, excellence and prosperity? Do they know their mission, methods, message, meaning and mistakes? Do they travel physically or vicariously to broaden their minds, widen their perspectives or expand their purviews? Do they read and lead or do they wallow and follow?

Hard questions…. yes! But you and your life are too important to be spent with people who invite misery, create mess, choose mediocrity, enjoy complacency and prefer mayhem.  Your time is too valuable to be pulled into drama. You vision is too vital to be limited by stinking thinking. And, you are too victorious to be confined by societal norms.

Choosing associates demands that we make some discerning choices about people, and choices cannot be based on longevity alone. Why? Because just because a person has been in your life for a long time does not mean they should have continued access to you. Having access to you or being in your circle should be based on 4 variables: Vision, Values, Voice and Veracity.  Yes, you knew all of the words were going to start with the same letter. If not, I would not be me. (I discuss the 4 V’s in my “Foundation for Elevation” Seminar.  The seminar is planned for 4th quarter 2015.)
teamwork1For many of us, deciding to reposition people in our lives is sometimes difficult. It is especially difficult for those of us who have felt the sting of rejection ourselves.  I understand; I have been rejected many times and rejection never feels good.

But here are some factors to consider.  Should we let people stay in our lives if they are emotionally needy, financially greedy or downright seedy? Should we allow people in our lives who constantly minimize our dreams, devalue our vision and disrupt our momentum? Should we allow people in our circle who are not loyal to us, secretly covet our lives and speak to us in disparaging ways? Should we feel obligated because we share DNA or a past? These are questions that you, and only you can determine. But here is an adage to consider: Life is like an elevator. Sometimes on your way up, you have to stop and let some people off. Something to pause, ponder and pray about, right?

We all have divine assignments; we all have a purpose. Yes, we all need people; we are hard-wired for connection. But despite our need to be connected and engaged with people, we still must be discerning. We still must do our best to ensure that we choose people to travel with us in life who can help us soar. We also have to be discerning to make sure we choose people whom we can also offer assistance and support to help them soar. Reciprocity and mutuality are important. ( I share more about how to choose the right people for your life in my book, I Have Learned A Few Things and in my workshop called “ The 7 Critical Relationships that Affect Your Life”.)
teamwork2Soaring in life and feeling fulfilled is what I call living in abundance.  In my heart, I believe that living in abundance is really how we ALL desire and deserve to live, don’t you? We all want rewarding, satisfying and thriving personal and professional lives.

So, how do you start the process to live more abundant lives? First, commit to self-awareness – know who you are and what you need. Secondly, take action even if you don’t know or understand all of the factors needed to succeed. Trust that you know enough and trust that when God gives vision, God always gives provision. Thirdly, pick the right associates. People should bless you not break you, promote you not pester you, lift you not lower you, and complement you not compete with you. Your closest associates should help you SOAR, never sink.

I look forward to continuing this series in the coming weeks. But in the in the meantime “What’s Blocking You”? I know in my soul that the answer for me and the answer for you is the same:  absolutely nothing.

Make sure you read the first two articles in the series. I am sure that the articles will provide food for thought.  Please visit my website and contact me in you have questions. I would love to hear from you.

If you are interested in learning more about working with me, please schedule a complimentary 30 minute Discovery Session. I would be honored to serve and support you, your family or your organization.

Dare to Soar Higher!

Blessings!

SharRon

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