Image courtesy of Flickr.com
I’ve been having a lot of conversations with friends, family and colleagues about where I am currently and where all my efforts are headed. Young adults everywhere are charged with deciding at the ripe age of 17 what they want to do with their lives. In my case, it was expressed in choose a college and degree field. Make sure it is something that “makes sense and cents”. I assume like most young adults now, I was supposed to be clear about what my life goals were. So long as I was clear on my choice, it was my charge to make a reasonable decision on the next steps thereafter. I’ll say that I did my best.
The issue was I didn’t have a definition for what clarity meant. What I thought was “clarity” was really me blindly walking on a mirage of a straight line to career success. I was finding my way, but I was also doing the status quo. While I have no regrets about the journey so far, I am well-aware that I lacked some imagination in envisioning my future. I’ve come to realize that the lack of imagination I had was directly tied a lack of clarity I had around what my heart truly desired. It made total sense. How does one imagine potential and greatness with precision if they are fuzzy on what success looks like? It simply cannot be done. To be honest, it isn’t totally true that I was unclear, but I will own that I was superficially-clear. Anytime you are carefully balancing what you want with the opinions and criticisms of others you are going to come up short.
It gets boring and tiring to always be following the rules…my advice…break all the damn rules and smile doing it.
The past few years in business have reconfigured me in such a way that I had to become crystal clear on what I wanted for my life. Notice I didn’t say my “career”. You see, once I got clear on the life I wanted to live it became easy to infuse my career pursuits and business with the morals, standards values and mantras I live by daily. It pushed me to create a lane that was unique to me. As a result, I became emboldened and empowered to defy all of the so-called rules that were working against me. Having this level of clarity has not only been exciting, but freeing.
Here are three benefits I have experienced since becoming clear about the direction of my life and career:
1) I learned to say “no” often, without apology, and with confidence. I say “no” to business, to people I no longer need to be associated with; and to situations and circumstances that aren’t mutually beneficial to me or the other person. In other words, I do what I want, change course as needed and do so without saying “sorry”. Giving up saying “sorry” for living life on your terms is a hard habit to kick, but I have worked at it. When you aren’t clear, everything seems like something you should latch onto. I know now that I don’t need to do everything or know everyone — it’s all about finding the synergy in things.
2) Shiny objects, fads, “what everyone else is doing” doesn’t move me. I have long been a creature who is seldom moved and unbothered by the pomp and circumstance of others. However, I would be lying if I said I have never compared myself to others. It is what makes us human. I have been diligent in focusing on my own lawn. While I certainly keep a pulse on what is going on, I do my best not to get wrapped up in what everyone else is doing ( i.e. fads, best practices, shiny objects etc.). In the long run, it doesn’t have any bearing on what you are doing anyway. Not to mention, that unhealthy doses of comparison robs you of being able to be grateful for your own progress.
3) My brand and I are in the flow. My message, my brand and what I stand for are so much clearer now that I have clarity around the overall goal. I have spent the past few years rethinking and figuring out what I like, what I want my legacy to be about and making it a reality. I’ve come to realize less is more and sometimes the brand is simply the journey so far. Life in action. I’m essentially just working hard at living my best life.
Success is subjective and what you make it. If you haven’t achieved success in a way that is meaningful for you it is likely because you haven’t done the internal work required to give you the clarity you need to make the right moves. Make the time to think about where you are and where you want to be. Then, go for it.
I am growing a little community on Instagram called: Growth on my Terms. If you are looking for inspiration from everyday people on success, life and moving through challenges be sure to check it out and join the conversation: www.instagram.com/growthonmyterms.
I was on Facebook last week and happened to see a headline that actor, Will Smith had some choice words for “The Donald”. I clicked on the headline and watched the video of his press conference in Dubai for Suicide Squad. When probed by a member of the Dubai press about the negative reviews of Suicide Squad he said the following:
” I feel like at this point in my career I’ve earned the right to fail. Right. So, I’m going to take shots and I’m not going to hit them all; because I’m going to be trying really wild, aggressive, creative things. Some of them will be critically-acclaimed, some of them will make money and some of them will be Wild, Wild West.”
It resonated with me, because it reminded me of my own journey and relationship with failure.
Perfection be damned!
We are the most imperfect-perfect society. Most people are so broken, so lost, still learning, still striving and yet we will do everything in our power not to appear to be an overall failure. It starts when we are young. We are coached, molded and forced to put on appearances whether at church, family functions and school. The messages we receive are that mistakes are okay, but don’t make too many of them. How does something as imperfect as a human rise to such a level of perfection?
We rise to the occasion as much as our spirits can take us and eventually we all fall short. It is in those moments of imperfection that we recognize that we are fighting an uphill battle. Those messages of “failing just enough, but not too much” feel inhumane; but still we have appearances to upkeep.
Why does failure feel so permanent?
The funny thing about failure is: It isn’t permanent at all. When I look back at my failures, there isn’t one that completely destroyed me. You couldn’t tell me that while I was going through it, but not one destroyed me.
I’ve been through a lot. Once you have overcome the fear of failure, you figure I got this. That is until your dreams and aspirations grow even larger in size. So, here I am again wanting to expand and reach for the stars and guess who is back to torture me – our frenemies, fear and failure.
To be honest, failure is uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel like comfort food on a rainy day. It’s like the night you drank too much and prayed to get past it; while also promising never to get drunk again. In this way, much of how we approach failure has to do with mindset and approach.
Let’s explore why failure feels so permanent and what we can do to change it.
Reason 1) “If I fail, everyone will know I failed and judge me for it.” Oprah once said that every guest she had on her show from celebrities to the KKK had one thing in common- they wanted to be understood and seen for who they are. We all worry about others seeing us fail and the opinions and/or judgments that will follow. Particularly in this digital age where everyone is so visible; failure feels very public.
Newsflash: Time fades everything – especially memory. What you think people remember about your failures is very unlikely the case. No one person should have that much power over you and your climb to success.
Reason 2) ” I feel like everything is crashing down on me in this moment of failure.” I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the feeling of failure and how this exacerbates the whole experience. As humans, we generally set out to do something and in return we expect our efforts and intentions to yield the perfect outcome. When things don’t align in the way we imagined, we generally feel like nothing can ever be better again because of that failure. Depending on the magnitude of the failure, those feelings of sadness, guilt, pessimism can last for a long time.
Newsflash: It’s important to go through those emotions, but you can’t live there forever. It’s the whole “being tired of being sick and tired”. The woeful feelings get old. Ultimately, things do get better. It requires a change of perspective and working on your approach to failure.
Reason 3) “Failure is bad and in return what I set out to do was bad.” Let’s be clear most of us don’t know how to fail and recover from it. No matter how many times we try to re-frame “failure” it is still ingrained in us as something negative. Most of us want to be seen as a success. Until recently, success was the positive end of our efforts and failure was the negative outcome of our efforts. It sounds easy enough to say we should revise our definition of success to include a healthy helping of failure, but our prior conditioning doesn’t want us to be great.
Newsflash: Let’s not romanticize failure as if all failures are equal. There are failures that result in casualties and some that are rather benign by comparison. Sometimes it really is as bad as it feels. Still, there is a lesson to learn and a wrong to make right. The grit and strength you have to use to get there is what success looks like.
Like Will Smith, I feel like I have earned the right to fail. It is a revelation you have when you have spent much of your life trying to walk a straight line. Perfection doesn’t exist. While we are all out here trying to figure out our purposes and life missions – we might as well let the failures teach us and lead us to success.
Share your feelings about “failure” with me below.
Image courtesy of Flickr.com.
The definition of “a la carte” is: separately priced items from a menu, not as a part of a set meal. I am seeing a trend in my business that suggests that HR has a value in businesses still, but the need and delivery preference is more “a la carte” in nature. This means that smaller companies and startups don’t have the capital, need or want for a full-fledged HR department, but will seek out different aspects of HR expertise as the need arises.
How does this work?
Let’s just say you have a startup and you have five employees currently. Perhaps, you operate your business in multiple states and have a mix of both contractors and employees. At some point (hopefully not when it is too late) you are going to need to understand if you are complying with all of the employment laws. Moreover, you will want to know that you have a sound plan for managing people as you grow.
If you own a startup and you already recognize what you don’t know – you may opt to bring in someone with HR expertise to audit what you have done to date and help you figure out what the right roles are as you continue to expand your business. That HR person doesn’t necessarily need to be a permanent fixture within the company, but they are a call away if some other “people” related concerns crop up.
This option of a la carte HR services is a flexible option for startups and smaller companies. When you initially start your business, money is scant. You are lucky if you have enough to bring on someone for a couple of hours – let alone a full-time HR Generalist. Bringing in HR expertise as it makes sense for your company not only keeps you in compliance, but ensures that you have someone looking at your growth through the lens of your people.
Let’s take something as simple as recruitment. You are a startup. You’re using multiple sources to create buzz for a few new roles you have within your company. It has been my experience that recruitment efforts are made constantly without a look at whether the company is getting the biggest bang for their buck. Now this oversight isn’t specific to startups and smaller companies, but the impact of those missteps are much more visible and palpable when you are in a growth state. There are also cracks and/or bottlenecks in their hiring processes that get overlooked. Again, not a mistake that hasn’t been made elsewhere – but a mistake that can hinder your growth as a startup before your business begins to gain traction.
How do you build an empire without considering what people you will need to get there?
This is the one question every founder should be asking themselves. As a founder of my own company, I am fortunate to have the big ideas and have a deeper appreciation for utilizing HR practices to enhance my business. I have that advantage since I worked in HR for ten years prior to going out on my own, but what about those founders who aren’t like me? Are they shooting themselves in the foot by not having some HR expertise in their back pocket?
My answer is: Yes. You may not love what HR has stood for over the past 30 years. For that matter, I am not a fan of the stances we take when it comes to certain organizational issues. However, I think we can all agree that ping-pong tables, unlimited time off and flexible work schedules haven’t exactly solved the unhappiness at work quotient if you speak to people working at startups.
Startups are often regarded as the anti-establishments working in mostly unorthodox ways that don’t conform to a specific business standard. In many ways, it has been helpful to see something other than the usual corporate modus operandi at play; but perhaps there are some fundamental things we can’t wish away. I think one of those fundamental things is HR. You may wish HR didn’t exist, but there is virtually no way for a founder to be successful in growing their business without a plan for how you will manage the people that will be pivotal in helping you grow your empire.
Here are some things you need to do now if you don’t have an HR consultant on speed dial or an in-house HR person:
1) Look at your current roster of employees and consider whether you are complying with all of the employment laws in your state and federally. If you can’t answer a resounding “yes” to that question, you need to find someone to look at your workforce immediately.
2) When you find the HR authority for your business, don’t just look for a popular blog, do some research. I shouldn’t have to tell you how popular “faking it until you make it” has gotten. Be sure that you vet your HR person’s expertise and feel comfortable with their approach to your needs. This can be sorted in a consultation. Do your homework.
3) If you’re looking to keep this endeavor budget-friendly, choose one area that touches your workforce and allocate funds for that. Focusing on improving one area that can have a positive impact on your company is better than doing nothing at all.
3a) While we’re on the subject of budget, make sure you allocate budget for HR in the first place. I don’t care if this is for a cluster of consulting hours. HR expertise for your specific needs is not free. Having some budget can get you the right professional.
For those of you who have been reporting that HR is dead, it appears on my end that it is still very viable and much needed. We may need to rethink how we package it, but we are far from being six feet under.
If you don’t believe me, even Fast Company agrees. Check out their May 2016 8 minute read article about it here.
Background image by CreateHerStock.com.
For at least the past two weeks, I have been beyond tired and uninspired to write anything new. I am not a fan of forcing myself to write when I’m not feeling it, so I decided to honor the space I have been in. To describe the feeling, I have felt like I am in abyss of a wandering mind and unable to dig myself out of it.
I started out with the obvious feelings and reactions of being mad at myself for not pushing through. That was until I decided to evaluate what I have accomplished and why I may be feeling listless and lacking in new ideas.
The reality was: I have been working damn hard for over six months no real downtime. This may sound like a humblebrag, but unless you understand how an entrepreneur’s mind works that will be your only conclusion. My mind is constantly racing with thoughts of new ventures, things I need to do and questions of whether I am doing enough to reach my goals. That’s just on the professional end of things. On the personal end, it is kids, husband, home life etc.
In taking stock of what I set out to do and what I actually accomplished – it allowed me to accept my tiredness and need to unplug as a warranted effect of my hard work. Cleaning my whiteboard of projects completed wasn’t enough. I needed to take the time to write down what I had done specifically so I could quantify and see it.
I got my mojo back today!
One thing I am very intentional about is keeping the right people in my circle of trust. These people remain nameless, but I praise them loudly and often, because they keep me on target and sane.
Sharing is caring.
Today was no different – as I met with my one of my friends/business partners. We met as we do annually to discuss how our academy went. Over Mexican food and great drinks we discussed our successes and room for improvement. We also discussed life and business since we wrapped the academies. Shockingly, I am not alone in this abyss of wandering minds. My business partner was experiencing the same feelings. A few drinks and many admissions later, we both were idea machines!
So, how does a casual lunch and drinks inspire one to move from listless to inspired again?
It’s all about people! Whether you are an entrepreneur or something else, we all have an innate need to be seen, understood, heard and empowered. We especially need this positive energy from others when we are unable to motivate ourselves .
When our smartphones are in the red and about to die, we frantically hustle to find a plug to power up our batteries again so we can continue surfing , sharing, chatting etc. Today, my business partner and I plugged-in to one another to recharge and keep going. We essentially threw one another a lifeline.
I was convinced that my upcoming vacation alone would do the trick ( and I still kind of believe that). However, I really needed to spend some time connecting with someone in my circle of trust to put things in perspective. People often ask me if I miss working in an office with people. My answer is always “no”. I am not the kind that needs constant human interaction, but I have learned enough to know when it is prudent to tap into others.
Here are some tips for navigating periods of low-to-no inspiration or energy:
1) When your body slows you down, it is because you need to slow down. Honor that space and time and be still. It’s usually a warning to slow-down. Also, a lesson is usually on the way when this happens.
2) Evaluate how you reached this unwelcomed slowdown. More often than not, you will find that there are some steps and/or missteps that brought you to this place. Write it out, find your blindspots and forgive yourself.
3) Plug into your circle of trust. Many times we believe our struggles are unique to us. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to ask a question or to share your experiences will help you shake the “unique struggle” mindset. This allows you to normalize your feelings, get out of your head and resume productivity.
Whether you are an introvert, extrovert or ambivert – people need people. If you want to be successful both professionally and in business you need to have at least one other person you can call to cry, vent , or bounce ideas off of. It is too much of an emotional and physical burden to bare for you to carry it all alone. Find your tribe and plug-in when you need to recharge. Trust me it’s okay.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with my friend and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Joey Price of JumpstartHR on his Business, Life, and Coffee Podcast. We had a great conversation about when I knew I needed to start my business and discussed whether women make better CEOs than men.
You’ll have to listen below to hear what I had to say about whether women are better than men at leading organizations. I think you will be surprised at my response. The one thing I learned for sure listening to this podcast is:
“We all have a story and we should share it as much as the universe will allow.”
Joey was able to capture my journey to entrepreneurship in a way that I have not in the past. Life often feels like thousands of vignettes that run into one another, blend and become distorted the further away from them you get. Asking the right question and a dose of honesty will always bring forth something compelling and useful.
Joey and I started on our social media journey at about the same time and have since become both colleagues and friends. It is pretty neat to see where both of us have landed respectively in our lives and businesses.
If you have a business, are thinking of starting a business or just have an interest in a story about someone who chased their dreams when everything was falling apart around them – you will want to listen to this podcast.
Please feel free to share your thoughts with me on the podcast below in the comments. Also, if you like this episode you will love the variety of his other shows- give them a spin!
Thanks for reading and supporting! I appreciate you immensely.
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a happy and safe holiday. I took some time off to breathe, recharge and position myself and business for the New Year. It was a reflective time where I was fortunate to catch up with family, friends and colleagues. In doing so, I gained a perspective on what I have done and what I am called to do through my business going forward.
I am happy to share that this month marks the 3rd anniversary for my company, Talent Think Innovations, LLC. Admittedly, I knew what I intended for this business when I started it in 2013, but had no idea where it would actually take me.
What do I mean by this?
I wrote an article in 2014 called: “Are You Ready to Pivot?”. The goal I had in mind for that article was to raise awareness around the need for HR and people in business to become adaptable and ready to make decisive changes when circumstances and/or market shifts call for it. Ironically, I look back at this article and recognize that 2016 has presented fertile ground for me to pivot. I spent much of my time off considering how I would continue propel my business to success and whether I am prepared to take yet another step outside of my comfort zone and let the world know.
After lots of wine, prayer and discussions with my circle of trust, I decided it is important to honor the work I do fully. Honoring my work means ensuring that people have a clear perspective on what I do and how I do it. Talent Think Innovations, LLC was founded as a HR Consulting Firm focused on helping small-to-midsize businesses establish sustainable talent management strategy. I made the decision to create the company focus around HR as a matter of comfort and passion. It was what I knew for over eight years and it just felt right.
Without boring you with all of the details, I find myself today having a much broader impact than HR strategy. I’m not abandoning HR, but I am giving my HR prowess some friends with which it was already comfortable. As such, Talent Think Innovations, LLC is now a multi-disciplinary business strategy and management consulting firm focusing on practical and sustainable strategies in the following areas:
- HR/Talent Management Strategy
- Executive and Leadership Coaching and Training
- Career Coaching
- Digital Marketing Coaching for SMBs
- Technology Advisory Services and Strategy
- Startup Mentorship & Advisement for Women
- Brand Influencer Marketing
The funny thing about this re-branding of sorts is that this “pivot” has been evidenced in the clients I have been working with over the past three years. I just needed recognize and accept where this business journey was taking me.
What does this mean for “The Aristocracy of HR”?
You can still expect Workforce Strategy and HR talk to be the core of this blog. HR is still in my heart, but I will be opening up my topics as I have done in the past two years to cover entrepreneurship, digital marketing, data, technology and quite frankly anything else that tickles my fancy as I continue to grow and evolve.
What I really hope you all take from this is the following:
- A friend/colleague recently told me, don’t wait too late to change the direction of your business. I took this to mean that you need to have faith in the signs along the journey and clear your space to do the work you are truly called to do.
- Discomfort is really preparation for the next great thing coming your way. I have been in a state of discomfort since I started this business. I have had my share of struggles , but every consecutive year has brought more opportunity and blessings to my business than the last.
- Every day things are changing and we need to remain adaptable and ready to move when life pleasantly and unpleasantly pushes us in a new direction.
I am so excited to share all of the new and fun things going on in my corner. As a reader of this blog, you will also be able to reap the rewards- as I work to provide the next level of value for this community. I hope you will join me on this journey and I thank you for your interest in my musings and readership.
Here’s to having a successful and sweet 2016! Time to feed the beast. Stay tuned!