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.
Last week, I shared my thoughts on the importance of speaking up when things have gone horribly wrong in society. I also shared that I would be hosting my “Black Out Show” as my first Ask Czarina Live after vacation. What I didn’t realize was how much extra courage and strength I had to muster up to get through my show.
It’s one thing to tell yourself you are going to do something monumental. It is quite another thing to recognize your accountability to deliver a message and story that resonates in spite of the difficulty of the topic.
Prior to the show, I watched the videos of the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile killings again. I watched the breaking news stories for the slain police officers and I immediately became emotional. I attempted to put on makeup to make myself appear as if I had it together, but the reality was I was a milli-second away from falling apart for everyone to see.
At the stroke of 10 pm, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I knew that I was speaking for more than just myself which pushed me beyond my very palpable fear. I remembered those two little girls pictured above and recognized the duty I have as their mother and as a woman to show them that nothing should prevent them from being fully seen, appreciated and heard in this world.
I want my daughters to know that raising your voice when others find it easier to be quiet takes courage. I am showing them through my own actions that speaking the truth in a time when it is preferential to lie takes strength. In the end, I hope they will see that business should not only be profitable, but socially responsible.
An hour and nine minutes later, I felt lighter and proud that I delivered on my promise. My viewers kept up their end of the bargain as they listened without starting any arguments, fights etc. All of this proving that we can have civil discussions around race issues and politics, if we first are willing to listen more than we speak. It also illustrated that we all can speak up without it being disastrous for our reputations and businesses.
As a friend of mine shared, you can’t go wrong when your words are from your heart and they are delivered with poise and professionalism.
In case you missed the show live, I am making sure to share it with my readers here. Thank you to those of you who have reached out to share your feedback on the show. It really makes me feel good to know, I made a difference by using my voice and platform.
Aristocracy of HR community, the time has come for your Czarina to take a break. In 2013, I started off my year by speaking about “introspection and execution” (see here for that post). I made some promises to myself and put some things out in the universe that make more sense in 2016 than they did back then. It’s time for me to make good on what I promised myself, but first a look back and some updates.
Here’s what I promised myself in 2013:
Three Affirmations, Three Executions:
1)Be a signal in the noise that is the world of work. I may not be the loudest signal now, but I will be that signal that makes you stop what you’re doing and ask what is that noise? You won’t ask it out of annoyance; but you will wonder where it came from and how you missed it the first time around.
2016 realization: The signal is clear and received. I have found my lane and I am thankful for the platform I continue to build.
2)I will do something extraordinary and assist those that endeavor to do something extroardinary. There is something magical about being a part of something that is bigger than all of us. I want to collaborate, coordinate, create, envision, innovate all in the name of HR. It has already begun and the story behind this will unravel as the year progresses.
2016 update: I have done some really cool things since 2013. Many of my accomplishments have been in HR, but most have been outside of the realm of HR. It’s important to take stock of where you are, where you have been and relish in your accomplishments. I am tardy to the party on this.
3)I will introspect and continue to live life with purpose. The spirit requires balance and as such I will need to examine all that I do and adjust as necessary to maintain balance and productivity. I’m not running myself into the ground like I did in 2012. Consistency, SEO, clicks – it all sounds good, and I care, but not at the demise of my well-being. If one aspect of my life is out of sync- it’s all out of whack. My personal time is making a comeback this year.
2016 update: I’m still doing my best to not run myself into the ground. I have found that finding balance between work and life is not a destination, but rather a journey.
When you are a one-woman act it all comes down to you. The articles, PR, the editing, running your business, hosting a livestream show, juggling three kids ages 7 and below etc make for many focuses, quick wardrobe changes and many hats. I have been doing this and much more in my quest for success since 2013. However, I have to consistently remind myself of why I went into business in the first place.
Three main reasons why I took this leap into entrepreneurship were:
1) To be more available for my kids.
2) To get out of the rut of rising the ranks of an organization that gleaned no personal or professional satisfaction.
3) To have more flexibility to fully enjoy my life.
This year, I have decided to make good on my promises to myself about flexibility. That means that I am taking deliberate actions to play as hard as I work, while managing my tribe and their affairs more efficiently. Please know that this is not a perfect science. Any Work-At-Home Mama knows any good plan can be thwarted by life and your kids – despite our best of intentions.
Here are some things I have put in place to make good on these promises I made to myself:
1) I am being intentional about flexing my work week. I’ve cut my work days down to four days and it may go to three at times. I will obviously continue to put in the necessary hours to keep my business on a growth trajectory ; but I am no longer working for the sake of working.
2) Building in dedicated time for family and myself to decompress from the work week. We all deserve time to zone out and just be.
3) Whether it is ordering groceries or hiring a virtual social media strategist to keep my profiles humming – delegation at this point in my business is necessary for the maintenance of my sanity and continued growth.
All of that being said, I’m taking a break from the blog and social media for the next two weeks. I will return on July 18th. There will be no real-time instagramming, snapchatting, livestreaming, facebooking or awe-inspiring workforce wisdom coming from this here blog. I need a moment to regroup and relax – which is something that has become a priority for me.
Through the magic of delegation and various platforms you will continue to see my posts and shares.
I am really excited to spend quality time with my family during this break. Most importantly, I am excited to wake up and know that there is nothing I need to do other than put on my swimsuit and head to my cabana near the pool.
I want you all to know that I appreciate all of the support, shares, kind words and encouragement I get from you all. It means a lot to me and keeps me going and grinding.
I hope you all are enjoying your summer so far. See you back here in two weeks.
See below for some of my favorite content for 2016 and things to look forward to.
This week, I am finding it hard not to reflect on being a mother with Mother’s Day coming this Sunday.
I sincerely believe that all of the blessings and transformative instances I have experienced over the past seven years can be attributed to me being a mother.
The act of having to put someone or in my case – three little someones before my own needs has taught me selflessness in a way I don’t think would have been possible without becoming a mom.
When it comes to my business, I believe I owe it all to my children. If I hadn’t had my two daughters whose ever-rising daycare costs took a healthy chunk of my salary, I may not have explored my former employer’s option for teleworking – which then lead me to thinking about building my own business.
All of the hustling, juggling, and lack of boundaries between work and motherhood were a few of the reasons why I took an extremely preliminary idea of starting my own business from concept to reality in less than one year.
Now, as a work-from-home mama, my days can be pretty crazy. Running a bustling business, wrangling a 4 year old, an almost two year old, and a seven year old – while supporting each developmentally, emotionally and academically can be exhausting.
Couple that with my business which is scaling nicely and imagine the angst and euphoria of figuring out who gets to stand-in for me while I pursue business opportunities- many of which are out-of-state. Like I said, both exhilarating and exhausting.
Thankfully, each of them are growing nicely in their own ways. They have gotten use to some of how my schedule and business impacts our home dynamic.
Every once and again, one of them will say to me: “You’re the best Mommy I ever had.” I usually say “thank you” and chuckle thinking: “I am the only Mommy you have ever had”; but I digress.
That “thank you” means so much more than they know.
I want my kids to know that I am thankful to them for forcing me to be a better person. They need to know that I was probably operating at a quarter of my greatness prior to having them.
I need them to know that when they pardon me for being imperfect – I am in return learning to be kinder and more forgiving of my own shortcomings.
The ability to see something both old and new through the eyes of a child is a gift.
Life has an unfortunate way of suppressing the aspects of the human experience that are innate to us all. Creativity, fun, laughter without abandon are just a few things I have invariably lost and regained as a result of wanting to live in the moment with my children.
I don’t say all of this to suggest that you will be a selfish, boring, non-creative person for not becoming a mother. From my perspective, I see my children as my divine counsel pushing me to be a better version of me in a very imperfect and non-linear manner.
They will never truly understand how they are doing that nor will their precious little brains understand now how much it means to me.
To all of the mothers (biological and non-biological), our one day per year is coming, but be sure to take time everyday to recognize the magnitude of all that you do. Know that even when you think you are screwing up, you are just fine.
Happy Mother’s Day to you all! Be sure, to put those little people to work on Sunday and enjoy the day!
In case you missed it, I have a show on Thursdays called: Ask Czarina Live ™ .
In the episode below, I talk about being a working mom and the struggles many of us face in juggling home and professional pursuits. I hope it is helpful!
I am coming at you from IBM Insight in Las Vegas. I promise you I will be back to churning out more than just Ask Czarina Live posts soon, but I am on the move a lot this month. Before I proceed, I want to thank everyone who joined me last week. It was great to have you and I am inviting you to join me this week and bring a friend.
Which brings me to our topic for this week’s Ask Czarina Live. This week’s topic is: The State of Working Parenthood.
I won’t spoil what I will share this Thursday, but I had a lot of hustling to do to be able to not only make it to Vegas for IBM Insight, but to be able to go to my speaking gig later in the week.
As a business owner, professional and mom of 3 who also happens to be in the midst of picking up steam as a speaker- my travel is picking up and responsibilities at home remain the same. I know all about the opportunities in front of me and I know what I stand to gain. At the same time, I am forever calculating the risks and cons to what I do. As such, I am calling all working parents and that includes stay-at-home moms and dads. I’ll explore the following:
Why I stopped making a distinction between these two groups of parents even though society continues to drive a hard line.
Whether it is easier now or in past generations to be a parent.
What I do to release present day parenting pressures making life bearable for everyone involved.
Is work-life balance attainable?
Is the request for “more flexibility” new or are we in a time and place where it is more accepted?
In addition, I will be exploring a few articles that summarize the state of working parenthood. Here are the links to the articles, should you be interested in checking them out in advance:
Join me on Thursday at 11pm EST/10pm CST/8pm PST for my second “Ask Czarina Live”. Last week I promised you that I would be posting the replays of “Ask Czarina Live” to “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel for those of you not ready to take the Periscope plunge. Unfortunately, Periscope has a bug that is preventing my broadcasts from properly being saved in my gallery, so I am currently unable to share my shows in both places. They are working on it and I will let you know when I am able to do it. For now, you can continue to view replays on Periscope, within the 24-hour window allotted,
As usual it will be fun, fresh, and insightful. I look forward to seeing you there.
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