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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.

 

No Woman Left Behind!

… the principle we used to live by and have since abandoned

Every woman knows it – “We came together and we’re all leaving together.”

It was a safety agreement, a declaration of sisterhood, a reminder that she had your back and you had hers. We lived by it – on trips, at the club, out on the town or in just about any unfamiliar situation. Honoring the code meant that you would be safe. Anyone who disregarded the code was in for harsh backlash and possible shunning from future get-togethers.

It didn’t matter whether we were out as a pair or a group of ten. No one was wandering off alone without checking in with the group. A solo trip to the restroom that took a little too long, meant a girlfriend would be coming to check on you. You could give your number to a cute guy, but you weren’t leaving with him. If you had too much to drink, a designee would make sure you got home okay. She’d even help you take off your shoes and get you into your bed if needed.

We cared for each other.

What happened?

I often hear women talk about their struggles in the workplace, I find it interesting how much distrust, jealousy and undercutting abounds. Women tell me stories of co-workers, subordinates and supervisors who challenge them unfairly, speak ill of them behind their backs, go out of their way to prevent promotion and downright scowl at any sign of deserved favor. It often smells and feels a lot like hate if not absolutely so.

Why?

We’ve either forgotten the golden rule of sisterhood or we have convinced ourselves that it doesn’t deserve space in our occupational circles. We treat the other women in our workplaces as if we’re playing for opposing teams. All is well and good as long as she stays in her lane and we can stay in ours. Heaven forbid we have to work together on a project and share the spotlight … ever! We would rather remain an island than to conform to teamwork with our declared enemy. We would prefer to be acknowledged for our own brilliance alone than recognized for greatness, while sharing the credit with another.

So, what can be done?

Let’s go back to basics. Let’s dig out the old girl code and revisit the principles that were set upon the foundation of our friendships and encouraged us to think beyond self. We should begin to have the honest conversation with ourselves about the things that don’t feel right, keep us up at night, make us uneasy and cause us to questions. We need to pinpoint what we have done to feed the spirit of competition and separation. We should be transparent with ourselves.

If you’re working in the same organization you are after all, playing for the same team! We were hired to work together, so we should work to succeed together. Tag someone that you can link arms with. Give it some serious thought and commit to it. Let her know what you are trying to accomplish and make a pact to work together instead of against each other. Just do this with one person and see where the road carries you. No matter what, keep your eye on the ultimate goal to never leave her behind. You are to lift her up, but not carry her. Liking her should not be a requirement or expectation. If you see her backed into a corner, offer a solution. When she struggles, but is too proud to ask for help, offer it with no strings attached. This is the beginning of our growth and the stretching that molds us into effective leaders.

Don’t just think about it, go and put it to work TODAY. In this era of #metoo, we should expect more and be willing to do more to support one another on all levels.

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Receiving the Gift of Growing Pains

anton-van-der-weijst-603824-unsplashBeing in an uncomfortable spot in life is like wearing a dress that is too snug. You’d almost rather stand up and be awkwardly stable than to risk sitting down and busting that sucker wide open! Life is like that sometimes. One day, your shoes fit and the next day, they don’t. You can become accustomed to the hustle and bustle until you’ve had enough and would rather make the trade for peace and quiet. We may love our jobs until the day we become aware of what we’ve sacrificed to maintain it.

Growing pains are necessary. Think of it as the “stretch of life.” It’s those periods of discomfort, uncertainty, fatigue and anxiety that drive us toward change. If it weren’t so, we would stay in our small boxes way longer than meant to be. The hermit crab eventually becomes dissatisfied with its cramped quarters and seeks out a new place to inhabit.

It hurts like heck though. Pretending it feels good to be thrusted out of your comfort zone is just plain silly. There will likely be tears, frustrations, possible fits of anger and wavering faith along the way. But the process is a gift and the outcome is its own reward. Allow the stretch. Bend with the wind so you don’t break and try not to swim against the current.

The beauty of self-awareness is being able to recognize whatever season you find yourself in. Wisdom comes with accepting that no season lasts forever. Be uncomfortable enough to become open to change, willing to try and bold enough to risk failure. Cultivate your strengths and make concessions for your weaknesses. Own the transition while moving forward at the same time.

Don’t get stuck. Don’t throw in the towel when things get tough.

Your ultimate breakthrough is right on the other side of difficult.

 

(Photo courtesy Anton Van Der Weijst on Unsplash)

Leadership 101: How She Becomes a Force Without Being Forecful

Learning who you are requires work, growing pains, as well as accomplishment and setbacks. Identifying who you are as a woman in the workplace can be one of the most challenging parts of the journey. Whether you are in a female-dominated vocation or the opposite, you’ve likely experienced how lonely the path to leadership can be. In fact, the higher you rise in your field, the less likely you are to feel that you can relate to those around you. The more successful you are, it’s likely that you’ll begin to see fewer and fewer female faces.

Popular culture dictates that to be a successful female worker, entrepreneur, business owner, boss, executive, etc., you need to be rigid. These narratives tell us that women who lead value their careers above family, romantic relationships or other pursuits; that to be taken seriously, she must be aggressive, mean, dismissive of other’s feelings and interested in her own accomplishments above all else. Ruling with an iron fist has been widely celebrated, but does it really have to be that way?

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Photo by Justyn Warner on Unsplash

Strength has nothing to do with gender! Receiving recognition, being respected and valued has more to do with character, consistency and drive than we often realize. There five simple things women can do to gain leadership momentum in whatever career phase they are in:

  • Say what you mean and mean what you say: The woman whose word means something, becomes a woman whose word is everything. What comes out of your mouth should be accepted as tried and true gold, firm and decisive. If you mess it up, admit it, apologize and move on. Never back track.
  • Master the face-to-face: Insecure people hide behind technology when it comes to addressing conflict. A confident woman ditches the email, hangs up the phone, walks across the hall and addresses things head on. Her attitude is, “Let’s take a few minutes to talk about this and come up with a plan.”
  • Stop trying to keep up with Sheila: The woman who is okay being uniquely herself, has an idea of her strengths and weaknesses and knows how she prefers to lead. She isn’t looking at what the next person is doing to make herself a carbon copy of them. Even if she doesn’t get it right every time, she knows that she’ll gain more respect by being authentic.
  • Step out of the shadows: Leadership is not anonymous. It can’t be developed from the back room or operate exclusively behind a closed office door. Leadership walks, talks, has feelings and opinions. Leadership says hello in the morning and participates openly. The woman who desires to be taken seriously as a leader is not afraid to advocate for positive change.
  • Be the master of your field: All leadership journeys are marathons, not sprints. She may take necessary breaks along the way, but a woman destined to lead, knows that she will forever be a student. She is researching, learning and training to be better at what she does with an aim to be the best. She is knowledgeable, but never closes herself off to the possibility that there is still more to learn. She is also willing to mentor and teach.

What.Would.a.Wakandan.Do?

Like you, I saw “Black Panther” and walked away with so many things to digest and dissect. The movie caused me to re-evaluate my take on relationships, culture, history and gender roles. Most poignant for me, were the outstanding examples of female strength, honor, loyalty, determination and wisdom.

If they could overcome, why can’t we?

Without being fully conscious of it, I began asking myself the question, “What would a Wakandan Do?”

When faced with obstacles, uncertainties, failed plans, difficult people, hopeless odds – WWaWD?

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Shirt Design By Stephanie Godwin-Chu

It’s a simple question with a big emphasis on self-confidence and self-worth. Its weight doesn’t hang on arrogance or the naivety that all things will work out just the way we want them to. It’s not that at all. It’s a reminder of the many fights we engage in every day; the fight to be heard, the fight to defend our reputation, the fight for our worth in the workplace and the fight to move forward and not give up.

WWaWD? is our reminder to keep putting one foot in front of the other in the right direction. This question has pulled me back time and time again from the ledge of giving up and has helped me to firmly plant my feet and try again. Asking the question, challenges the excuses we create and propels us forward.

How would a woman who knows her purpose and has a conviction of duty handle herself? What would she say to those who openly doubt her and question her knowledge? How would she assert herself? How would she prove naysayers wrong? How does she take charge of her own future?

What would a Wakandan do? What will you do the next time you are faced with difficulty? Will you give up, will you give in to fear, walk away, lower your expectations, downplay your dreams or walk into your purpose like the queen that you are?

#WWaWD?

 

 

 

Unclaimed Baggage Won’t Let You Be Great!

Every human has work to do – to be better, smarter, kinder, more compassionate, patient, more genuine, etc. From the time you are conscious of being until the day you die, that work is ongoing.

I’ve been mentoring and training women in a professional capacity for over a decade. It doesn’t matter if I’m counseling a new graduate who is unsure of the next steps to take or a career executive who is trying to find purpose in her work. The challenge is always the same. There seem to be designated areas of focus women want to tend to and spend time on, while other areas are virtually ignored.

It’s not always intentional…just the cost of living in a busy world with so much to accomplish in a day. We all have blind spots. However, at some point in life, we turn our heads and become painfully aware of what has been hiding just beyond our peripheral. Now, what comes next determines our stretch and growth. We either resume our activities and keep moving forward as if we didn’t just see it, or we stop the car, pull out the ugly eyesore and get to the task of unpacking!

Why put extra emphasis on having the latest clothing, shoes, jewelry and flawless makeup when your personal relationships are hanging by a thread? Why ignore the jungle in the backyard, while planting neat rows of flowers in the front yard? Why pretend?

The corner office is a beautiful place to be, until you’ve spend so much time there that you haven’t seen your children awake in three days. Dedicating your life to serving others is noble until the devotion to the outside world causes friction within your marriage. Counseling others while failing to establish balance in your own life, is a breeding ground for burn out. Being the life of the party while returning to a home filled with dysfunction night after night, slowly starves the soul.

Claim

If we are honest with ourselves, we all have it…that lone piece of baggage (maybe several pieces), that we would rather not carry in public. If it were our choice when time comes to claim it, we would just watch it revolve around the carousel, pretending it doesn’t belong to us. But this piece of ourselves is just as essential as the rest. Ignoring it doesn’t mean it goes away. It’ll just show up later…delivered to our doorstep!

As you work on all of the wonderful parts of you that shimmer, don’t forget to take a look at the parts that seem dull and difficult. Be kind to yourself by acknowledging that there is still work to be done. Don’t be a fool and try to climb up on a crumbling foundation in your stiletto heels. It doesn’t end well!

 

“That’s Not a Real Job!

Untitled design (7)Have you ever heard these words?

When you are ready to make your next move, people will come out of the woodwork with their opinions and suggestions on how you should best live YOUR life. I had family, friends and co-workers telling me that I couldn’t own my own business. Some cautioned me about leaving a “well-paying” job in favor of balance at home and the opportunity to raise my own children. Others wanted me to settle for nine-to-five security and put my purpose on hold…because of course, purpose can wait.

NOPE!

There is nothing wrong with working a traditional job, but it’s also not for everyone. We all must search for that thing that brings us joy when we get busy in it. It’s the work that causes your soul to leap with excitement, keeps you up at night in anticipation and drives you to tomorrow. It may be what you desire to do as your profession and it may be something you desire to do in addition to your full-time job. Part of effective leadership is getting to know yourself well enough to be rightly positioned for your purpose.

You may have notebooks full of ideas and plans for better that you feel will never come true. But they will, if you are willing to put one foot in front of the other. Whether you desire to be financially independent, your own boss, dedicate your time serving your children and family, walk fully into ministry or help those who don’t have a voice – that passion was given to you because you are more than capable. As you do the unpopular thing, you’ll have an audience, but you may not find the support you desire. Don’t worry. Don’t give up. Don’t deny your future.

This is a season of change. People are changing the world one idea, one open door, one cracked window at a time. Will you be one of them?

Overcome the Pull of New Year Remorse

Untitled designLet’s face it…2017 was tough! There aren’t many people who didn’t let out a sigh of relief and a “glad I survived that one!” sentiment as the clock struck twelve.

Now that January is halfway over, you may be feeling that slow slump of disappointment coupled with a bad case of the “I wish I would’ve, I should’ve or could’ve” blues. We tend to look back at the previous year and lament the things left undone and the many detours that led us farther away from our goals. Maybe you thought it would all be coming along by now or you’d already be arriving at that magical destination you dreamed, prayed and planned for. Maybe you just didn’t expect the avalanche of the unexpected to hold you at bay for so long.

Right about now, according to statistics, New Year’s resolutions have been altered from what they once were or have failed all together – to get more organized, to eat healthier, to join a gym, to find more work/life balance, start writing again, start painting again, go to yoga, etc. Depending on where you live, you may also be suffering from the winter blues that blows in with the cold temperatures, yucky weather and lack of sunlight.

So, what to do about it? Can anything really be done about it?!

Well, here are a few things to get you unstuck:

  • Write down all the things that you regret from 2017
  • Take that list and crumple it into a nice round ball
  • Now, throw it in the trash or set it on fire if you feel the need!

What gets us unstuck is the determination to move forward, learn from what didn’t go well and keep it moving. Drive is a powerful thing. Now make a new list of no more than seven things you would like to accomplish in 2018 and identify one duty for each item that you can start doing. Why seven? Biblically, seven is the number of completeness and perfection for both physical and spiritual things. So, I figured it’s a good number to start with. Last, take out your calendar and add at least one thing to it between now and the end of June for each item. For example, if you want to change careers this year, add time to your calendar this month to edit and update your resume. If you want to exercise more, don’t buy a gym membership just yet. Instead, block off times over the next few weeks where you can take a morning walk.

Our power isn’t just in what we survive. It’s also in how we thrive. End the pity party now and get back to living!

We were excited to see you arrive, but now we’re even more thrilled to watch you fade into the past. Goodbye, 2017!