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Purpose Is Tied To Who You Are, Not Who You Wish To Become

-Purpose wants to make use of your scars, blemishes and imperfections.- - Stephanie Godwin-Chu

If I had a dollar for every moment of fear and doubt, I would be a wealthy woman!

I can’t even begin to recount all the times I’ve gone through the list: too short, too quiet, too smart, too serious, too busy, too young, too old, not pretty enough, too pregnant, too small, too fat, not knowledgeable enough, not outgoing enough, not popular enough … to go, to say, to ask, to believe, to share, to be (fill in the blank).

If you can name it…I’ve doubted it. If you can imagine it, I’ve feared it.

I’m in my early thirties and just now realizing that the vision I have for my life, for business and for my family is not tied to the person I think I should be … eventually – one day when I get it all right and have lots to show for it. No! My purpose is here, right now, patiently waiting in the corner for me to make up my mind and take another step forward. Purpose has chosen me and I have to also choose Purpose every day for progress to take place. It leads and I follow.

Your purpose is woven into the fabric of you. It’s always been there, waiting for the right time to show itself. If you look back at all of your pains, secrets, disappointments, goals, achievements and life plans, you will likely see it. Purpose leaves footprints all over our being. It reveals itself in our dreams, heartaches, how we solve problems and what drives us to get out of bed and try again day after day. Purpose looks back at you in the mirror and whispers, “there must be more than this.”

It’s time to celebrate and invite Purpose to the table of your life. Pull up a chair and allow Purpose to partake of what you have to offer. If all you have is an old second-hand chair, paper plates, red plastic cups and warm leftovers, so be it! Purpose doesn’t mind. It won’t turn up its nose at your offerings and demand fine china and a five course meal. Purpose will be patient with your flaws and meet you where you are. Purpose cheers you on at every milestone. Purpose will grow with you if you allow it.

Purpose is brokenness turned into perfection. Your purpose isn’t meant to make sense to everyone else. Purpose knows your name, address and phone number and loves who are right now and that’s all that matters.

 

What’s on Your Calendar May Be Hindering Your Focus

What’s on my calendar for next Tuesday at 1p.m.? In the next 14 days, have you left any gaps for the unplanned? If you know the answer to the first, but not the second, you may have a problem.

Living every minute of every hour and every hour of every day guided by the blocks on the calendar and the clock on the wall can be stifling. However, it can also be strangely comforting – everything in its place and a place for everything. Going from one appointment to the next and back again, taking this one to ballet, this one to robotics and this one to soccer practice, meetings, followed by debriefs about the previous meetings and planning meetings for the next one. You may squeeze in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Hulu or Netflix in between and then crash before dragging yourself up to start all over again.

 

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Where’s the focus? Where is the slow down? When does the actual living take place? What’s the purpose of it all?

The truth is that life doesn’t happen between keyboards and HD displays. Life happens through, around and over what we tend to focus on. If we aren’t careful, we’ll look up and realize we’ve missed it.

Planning is necessary and technology can be helpful, but meaningful connections, relationship building, dream chasing and vision cannot be placed on a timer. They suffocate in those spaces where they are forced to comply with the limitations that keep them from being organic and authentic.

Allow a free space – schedule it if you have to! Take that time to unwind and unfocus and it will actually help you find a great deal of focus! Block it off and protect it as if your life depends on it.

Then… go and dance, cook with someone you love, listen to music that makes your whole body move, sing, walk in the park, color with your kid or lay in the grass. Take an unplanned day trip to nowhere in particular, paint, write poetry, play the guitar or call your grandmother and listen to her tell you that story you’ve heard about twenty times. You don’t need to hear it again, but she needs to tell it and one day you’ll long for the sound of her voice.

Let life happen and don’t choke the beauty out of it by giving it a time allowance or by rushing off to the next thing. Don’t allow BUSY to become the nemesis of your FOCUS.

 

 

 

Am I a Woman? Yes. Am I Black? Yes! Am I Angry? No, Not Usually.

20170903_161803If it’s ever been said directly, whispered or inferred that you are a B**TCH in the workplace, please don’t waste energy being offended and don’t lose sleep over it. You’ve likely ruffled a few chicken feathers by standing your ground and upholding high standards. They WILL survive!

Let’s get down to the REAL meaning of the label, “Angry/Mad Black Woman”:

Are you being called a “mad black woman” because you’re angry, bitter, treat people unfairly, have unrealistic expectations and an axe to grind with anyone who crosses your path? Are you on a daily rampage to make others feel inferior in some way? Do you want them to fear you? NOPE!

Have you reached the end of your capacity to tolerate utter foolishness? Yes.

Are you at a place in life where you have a vision and expectations for excellence? Yes.

Do you get mad? Occasionally, but not any more than anyone else under pressure.

Are you tired of hearing excuses? Absolutely!

Annoyed by adults who behave like children? Amen!

See, you have stuff to do and likely you’ve studied, prepared, critiqued and worked harder than many of your counterparts to get where you are. You don’t have time for games. You aren’t opposed to making a few friends, but the goal isn’t to be well-liked and invited to the weekend barbeque either. You are about your business and often your skin color means that your drive and focus will be interpreted as anger. It unfortunately comes with the territory.

According to the Franklin Covey Habits of Highly Effective People, we are to seek first to understand and then be understood. So understand their judgement is rooted in ignorance of your history, your struggle and your vision. Understand that they are bringing biases to their experience of you that you can in no realistic way influence. Understand that the labels you are given fly away into the wind, unless you grab hold of them and claim them.

You will be understood by those with similar experiences as long as you consistently lead with respect and fairness. Others, will be determined to find fault in you just because they are intimidated by what you represent and the ease at which you command authority. You will be understood by those who genuinely care to get to know you and that is what matters.

You may not have the luxury of being “nice” in most cases and that is nothing worthy of an apology. Nice means letting your guard down, potentially becoming complacent and lowering the bar. Nice may mean going along with what you feel in your heart isn’t right. Nice plays nice with nice and fails to make progress. Nice never birthed change. Grit, pain, focus and sacrifice, motivation, planning, and skillful execution are what will bring you into a place of purpose.

People will label incorrectly that which they cannot comprehend and that is not your issue to tackle.

Three Reasons Why You’re Not Done Growing

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It doesn’t matter if you are 25 or 65, who says you’re done with life? If someone has already opened their big mouth to form the words and allowed them to pass their lips, they lied to you!

Let me tell you the honest truth about people who have nothing but negative things to say about your dreams and aspirations – THEY ARE SCARED!!

You are about to do something that would keep them up at night and give them the sweats. You have a dream and vision outside of their small corner of the world and they feel as if you are leaving them for the wilderness and will soon be eaten by wolves. They are so consumed by their perception of the worst-case-scenario for you that they can’t even pretend to be happy for you. They don’t know how.

But that isn’t your problem. The first rule of airline safety is that you need to apply your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else. Live and breathe your purpose because it’s in you and needs to be fulfilled. You can bring all of the naysayers and “see it to believe it” types up to speed later, if you choose.

You’re not done growing:

  • You’ve Got Fertile Soil: Because you have a dream that’s bigger than where you are now. For some of you it may literally be a dream that reoccurs when you sleep and reminds you that there is more for you to do.
  • Just Add Water: You have muscles that need to be worked! There are gifts and talents inside of you that you haven’t begun to fully explore. You know they’re there, but you need to spend time on them and nurture them to bring them to the forefront. Drink plenty (get some good books to read, take a class, attend a conference, local fellowship or workshop).
  • Open The Window and Let the Sunlight In: Surround yourself with healthy relationships that will stretch you. Connect with people who model your vision of balance and success. Glean from them and give them the space to tell you the truth in love, which will allow you to flourish.

 

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How to Deal With Chronic Complainers (3 min read)

In your work environment, there is likely one person you hate to see coming. Why? … Because they love to complain about any and everything! They don’t like their boss or supervisor, they have issues with the new policies, procedures or organizational chart. They think Mary Sue in accounting is mean to them for no reason and so and so forth.

These complaining types make it hard to focus on the work and they can suck the joy out of the atmosphere. I’ve never been one of them, but I’ve had to work alongside and supervise several. I refused to spend my days listening to negative comment after negative comment. I found the exercise to be a waste of their time and mine. So I crafted a few responses I kept on hand, ready to use.

When someone would come to me repeatedly to vent, I would let them talk at first and then I would ask one of three questions:

  • “How can we fix it?” – (5 words)
  • “What do you recommend?” – (4 words)
  • “Got an idea?” – (3 words)

… And it worked.

Some would simply get tired of me asking the same questions, so they would stop including me in the conversations. These people were generally miserable and liked to have company. As long as someone was listening and agreeing with their grievance, they experienced a feeling of validation and continued to complain.

Others would continue to come with their complaints, but they would also be ready to discuss possible solutions. These people are what I called “the turnarounds.” Instead of wallowing in what was wrong, they began to focus on ways to make improvements. Those are the ones who would go on to become supervisors, managers or leaders in some capacity.

Asking these questions helps thin the heard. However, I also had one quick response for the ones who continued to complain no matter what questions I asked and didn’t seem to get it. This question was designed to shut them down indefinitely:

  • “So what?” – (2 words)

… Conversations would generally go something like this:

“I don’t think Mary Sue in accounting likes me. I haven’t done anything to her, but she never says Hi to me.”

My response, “So what?”

“Well….I, I just…”

“We’re not here to make friends. We have work to do.”

-Shut down complete-

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See how that works? I would make it clear that what they were complaining about wasn’t dire by making a statement and then turning their attention back to the work at hand. It may sound harsh, but understand that at this point I had already coached the individual on their negative attitude and lack of accountability, encouraged them several times to come with solutions and in some cases I even assisted them in outlining recommendations for change.

Working with difficult people doesn’t have to be stressful! If you are consistent and firm in your expectations and hold them accountable, people will either adjust and play along or they will get out of the way!

 

Ladies, We Can Have It All! … Right? (4 min read)

Sitting in a conference room with a group of women had never made me so uncomfortable.

The meeting was due to start, but everyone was casually talking while waiting on a key person to arrive. It started as most conversations do: a little chatter about the weather, what everyone had on their agenda for the rest of the week and what was going to be happening in the coming week at the organization. I shared also … at first. Everyone was in the same boat – tired and a bit over-extended due to the demands of our prospective jobs.

Then, it took what I felt was a negative turn, but I seemed to be the only one who bowed out at that point. One of the ladies made a joke about how many days had passed since she’d seen her elementary-aged son due to her hectic work schedule. Quickly, someone else quipped that she’d be stopping by a local meal prep service on the way home to grab food for her family because she didn’t “have time to cook anymore.” More stories were traded back and forth with a startling theme. They all had in some way forsaken their spouses, homes, children and personal lives to meet the needs of their ever-demanding career.

Watching it all unfold in what felt like slow motion, had an effect on me. Motivational speaker, John O’Leary calls this “an inflection point.”

“Inflection points” can appear as insignificant or monumental; as positive or negative; they are the events, encounters and decisions that, once they’ve occurred: life afterwards is completely altered.*

I had a decision to make.

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Two paths were being put before me, but only one of them was being normalized. I had been on a personal crusade for months at that point (unbeknownst to the other women). My husband and I were determined to develop a healthier work/life balance. We were spending more time together, dating more, protecting our personal time and we had promised not to bring work home every day. Compromise for the sake of our jobs had taken priority for years and our marriage started to suffer.

I am a firm believer in Matthew 6:24, which says that no one can serve two masters. Can you be a stellar wife, mom AND career woman? Of course! But along the way, compromise will be required and a time will come where you’ll have to rank what’s important to you.

What you spend time on, devote energy to and feed will ultimately grow. What you neglect shrivels up and eventually dies. That’s just the way it is. Men and women both fight these battles silently every day, but it’s usually us women who experience the brunt of the guilt.

Can we have it all? Truthfully, I don’t believe that anymore. I don’t believe we can be everything to everyone and serve in a demanding corporate culture and put our children and families first at the same time. I don’t believe we have enough in our being to be excellent in all and everywhere we need to be and still have sanity at the end of the day!

I’ve never met a balanced high-level executive, company president or business owner who hasn’t made some type of compromise or change in responsibilities to achieve a family focus. It’s simply something that a stable life and nurtured relationships require.

You will either conform to the culture that opposes your priorities and values or you will need to separate yourself from it in order to stay true to yourself.

 

*John O’Leary is the author of “On Fire: 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life”

Career Life: Are You In The 30 or 70 Percent?

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Depending on which source you reference, experts believe only 27 to 49 percent of people in the US workforce are in their field of study. That leaves 50 to 70 percent of people working somewhere that is not reflective of what they went to school for (if you round out the numbers).

Are you one of them?

I regret to say that I used to be one of them. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

If I knew in high school what I know now, I believe I would have taken a different path. I wouldn’t have gone to college for something that was encouraged and pressed upon me as “the right thing to do.” I would have taken more risk and focused on studying something that would fulfill me, not just fill my bank account. I wouldn’t have played it so safe.

I am, however, grateful. I take the good and the bad together as valuable pieces of my experience. I could easily look back at the hours and hours of classes, thousands of hours spent in cubicles and behind desks and kick myself, but I won’t. Regret is a choice I’ve chosen not to make. I learned a lot and I gained so much through the interactions and relationships along the way. I’ve woven so many of those things into the complex fabric of who I am.

It’s a blessing to be in my early thirties and wake up every day with purpose on my mind. I eat it and breathe it. It has become necessary for my survival. But, if I can motivate just one person to ask themselves the hard questions and go after the things they dream of, I feel that I’m sharing the wealth of a fulfilled life. I still have time to course correct and make choices that will leave a legacy for my children and my children’s children. I believe that you do too.

It starts today, one choice at a time. Start small if you have to, and put some oil on those training wheels until you get the courage to make a shift. Read a book or subscribe to an email list that will fill your inbox with motivation and “you can do it!” encouragement. Volunteer on the weekends serving others to remind you that life doesn’t happen behind computer screens, but rather all around us. Invest in yourself and take a class that you really want to take or attend a weekend conference.

Before you know it, you’ll be imagining a life where you can’t see yourself doing anything but that one thing that brings you so much joy, but scares you senseless at the same time. Purpose is your gift. Chasing after it will cause you to stretch and grow. It may even keep you up at night. Before long, you’ll be eager to fit your purpose into everything you do. Seeking after it is the road trip of a lifetime.

Not sure where to start? Ask yourself:

  • What do I love?
  • What am I naturally good at (gifts)?
  • What are my talents (things I’ve trained for/learned)?
  • What would I do every day for free if I could be financially stable while doing it?

Your purpose is tied into the answers above. That is where your work begins.

Your Purpose Doesn’t Require a Co-Signer (1 min read)

PurposeDoesn't need a Co-signer

Wouldn’t it be great if every time we had an awesome idea or felt led to do something amazing, all of our family and friends lined up to support us and cheer us on?

Unfortunately that isn’t real life for most of us…not even close!

But hey…so what???

Some of the most dynamic people to ever walk the Earth were told over and over again that they couldn’t achieve what they wanted to accomplish. If success was easy, more people would have it. If the road was well-travelled, the destination wouldn’t be so sacred. It’s work. It takes determination, a go-getter attitude and a bit of what most people would view as insanity (having the faith to take risks).

They’ve told you you’re too young… or too old, too this, too that, too ____. We’ll there’s got to be “the youngest/oldest, etc. person to ever _____________________ .” Why can’t that person be you?

I like to say it this way: “It’s not over until you sit down.” Even if you get knocked down on your journey to making the vision a reality, it’s not TKO unless you stay down.

There will be disappointments and annoying people that get in the way. But you know that already, so act accordingly when they reveal themselves to you.

You are your own best cheerleader. Your inner voice of confidence and resilience has to be louder than the others.

Now that we’ve had this pep talk, go and do great things with those gifts of yours!

Blessings!

 

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Your purpose is tied to who you ARE, not who you want to be at some point in the future. Life is short…start somewhere, but start!