From my conversations with women around me, I know that our insecurities are always top of mind for us. My most recent insecurity is how much my body has changed. I had been trying not to allow it to bother me much. However, in the back of my mind, the huge insecurity lingered. The turning point for me was when I could no longer look at pictures of myself and appreciate my beauty. After a few years of watching the change, I decided to stop feeling bad about my body and start celebrating it.
In this blog post, I will share my very personal story and the key lessons I learned through the process of taking an active approach to facing my insecurities.
How did I face my Insecurity?
After six long months of deliberation and doubt, I decided to take a bold step and do a professional photoshoot for my birthday in October 2018. At the time, it was one of the scariest things I had done. Thinking back, this was one of the best things I have done for myself in a while.
What did I learn through the process?
Going through this terrifying experience of facing my insecurities taught me many valuable lessons.
Lesson #1: It is never as bad as you think
I had never been a fan of photoshoots. The thought of getting my make-up done, posing in front of a camera and then looking at my pictures intimidated me. However, as the day of the photoshoot approached, I started getting excited about the great pictures I would have. Finally, on the day of, I felt very comfortable and happy I was doing it. All in all, it was a pleasant and joyful experience.
Lesson #2: You need people who support you
The two people who helped me through the journey were Melissa, my sister, and Jennifer, the photographer. Melissa was in charge of making sure I did not only choose black outfits. She knew the right questions to ask me without putting too much pressure on me. Melissa knows me well enough to know how to help me from a distance. This was exactly what I needed at this tough time.
Interestingly I met Jennifer at a finance workshop in March, and I told her I wanted to take professional pictures, but I didn't know how to go about it. She gave me her card, and I checked out her work. It took about six months of internal preparations for me to be ready. When I was ready, I reached her to learn about the process, and a few weeks later, I was in her studio doing a great photoshoot. Throughout the process, her professionalism and excitement for her work kept me motivated.
Lesson #3: Guard your ears and heart
Many people don't think about the impact of their words on you. Especially if you feel insecure about things that people can see, hearing them talk about it or even make fun of it can make you very sad. I experienced this first hand. It took me a while to start ignoring the negative comments that came my way. I feel the strong need to appeal to everyone - be kind and sensitive.
Lesson #4: The results will be beautiful and worth it
I wish I spent time thinking more about the great results that will come from me facing my insecurities. This would have encouraged me to take the bold step earlier. After the photoshoot, I started volunteering myself for other sessions. I was now more comfortable with the process and looking at my pictures. I wonder how much we can achieve if we think more about the results and less about the painful process.
Lesson #5: Facing your insecurities is a continuous process
Now that I have experience in facing one of my biggest insecurities, I know one thing for sure; you have to continue facing your insecurities. They don't magically disappear after you do something bold. The good news is that you have seen the great benefits of taking action and you know what you can do. To continue my journey, I am committed to celebrating my body every year with a personal photoshoot.
Call to Action
The result of facing my Insecurity
Sharing the great pictures I took. Thanks to my great photographer Jennifer Graham
A few months ago, while I was preparing for my video "In the News | Picture a leader," I started reflecting on the women in my life that inspire me. When I hear someone being able to name one person or a few people as their role models or idols, it amazes me.
I have always struggled with calling people that I don't know personally my role model. After contemplating on what being a role model meant to me, I decided to start identifying traits in women around me that inspire me. As I wrote the desirable traits down, I started realizing that these women have the same values that I have and similar legacies as I want to have.
In this blog post, I will share the five types of women that inspire me and how they have influenced me on my journey.
Type 1: Women who are pioneers in their field
Every time I hear about a woman who did something new in her area or invented something, I am inspired to explore new endeavors. For me, it comes down to a sense of pride for another woman winning. On my journey so far, there have been situations where I was the first or "only" person. Especially in my professional life, I have to constantly remind myself of the great women who felt alone on their own journeys but still pressed on and succeeded.
Type 2: Women who defied the odds and became great
The bold women who do things no one thought they could do are a huge source of inspiration for me. On my journey, I have come across many brave women in my life. Seeing someone make the best from a less than perfect situation motivates me. When I start doubting my ability to achieve my bold goals, I remind myself of the great women who defied the odds and succeeded.
Type 3: Women who built and own businesses
Especially since I now know what it takes to start a business, I am inspired by every woman who owns her business. Being an entrepreneur takes much courage, and it is not easy. I have learned many valuable lessons from female founders who had a passion or dream and built successful businesses.
Type 4: Women who have a positive attitude and message
Women who have the ability to stay positive and hopeful in our world today are my heroes. It takes much energy to see the good in life, people, or situations. I aspire to have and share a positive message with everyone around me.
Type 5: Women who support other women
Any woman that makes it a priority to lift other women has my respect. On my journey, I have been fortunate to have women who supported me personally and in my career. This is precisely what motivates me to build a community of women that support each other.
Call to Action
What are the traits that inspire you in other women? Know what inspires you.
Who are the women that inspire you? Identify three women around you.
"Let your dreams be bigger than your fears" - Unknown
Knowing and talking about our fears is not something we enjoy doing. I wonder if it is because we are afraid that when we vocalize our fears, they come true. To be successful in our journeys, we need to face our fears.
In this post, I will share the definition of fears, reasons to overcome your fears, and strategies you can apply to face three types of fears. For more practical tips, check out my post titled "How to do things you are afraid of."
What does fear mean?
What are the most common fears women have?
Some of the fears many women have include the following: fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of failure, fear of financial instability, fear of people's opinions, fear of not achieving goals or living out their dreams and fear of success.
What fear does to you?
Living with fear holds you back from seizing new opportunities, slows down your progress, and stops you from achieving your dreams.
Ways to address 3 types of fears
To be able to face our fears, we need to know what we are afraid of and actively apply strategies to face them.
#1: Personal Unknown fears
These are the fears that we are not aware of. The fact that we don't know them gives them even more power over us. They come up at times when we feel like we don't have control of a situation.
Strategies to consider
#2: Personal Known Fears
If I asked you what you are afraid of, some of your fears would come to mind. These are typically the ones that we think about daily. It's good that we know them. Because when you are aware of something, you can address it.
Strategies to consider
#3: Generational & Societal Fears
Based on our upbringing and the environment where we live, some external fears are imposed on us. It is essential to build a healthy relationship with this type of fears . They are mostly built on other people's experiences. Don't let them limit you and your perspective.
Strategies to consider
Talking about my fears is something I just started being comfortable doing. For years, I tried not to think about them so much. However, I noticed that they were controlling aspects of my life. The biggest fear that I had to face was my fear of change. I shied away from taking on new opportunities because I did not want to make changes. After missing some great opportunities, I realized that to achieve my goal and live out my dreams, I had to embrace change. Ever since I started facing my fear of change heads on, I have seen great results. Now I have made it my mission to be even bolder and challenge myself.
Call to Action
What are your top 3 fears? Write down your fears.
What strategies do you plan to apply? Face your fears.
Let's wrap up this post with some great quotes about fear
It's July already - where did the first six months of this year go? I am sure I say this every year, but I feel like 2019 has been a very fast year. Earlier this year we planned for the year in a post titled "About your 2019 goals – March Edition". Now it's time to review the year so far, celebrate our accomplishments and plan for the next six months.
In this blog post, I will share some of the thought experiments I did, share the five steps I went through during my mid-year review and provide a look behind the scenes of the insights I gathered .
Step #1: Make time and find a place for your goals review
To get the best results from your review, set time aside, and find a quiet place where you can concentrate. You want to take as much time as you need to ask yourself key questions, reflect, and write things down. Personally, the library is the best place where I can concentrate and have fresh thoughts. I have also found that I need about two to four hours.
Questions to consider
Step #2: Review your goals and measure your progress
An excellent place to start is by reviewing the goals you set for 2019. It is essential to view this exercise as an opportunity to check the progress you made and get clarity on what you are yet to do. To avoid the trap of getting disappointed, remind yourself that there are still six months in the year. You now know where your focus should be to drive the results you want. One thought that helps me is - "It is great that I am getting clarity half-way through the year and not at the end of the year."
Questions to consider
Step #3: Evaluate what changed and what needs to change
As we know, change is constant. When we set our goals at the start of the year or the quarter, we set them based on the information we had at that time. As the year progressed, life happened, and things changed. As part of your mid-year review, analyze your goals with the new information you have gathered. Another point you want to think about is, what needs to change for me to be more successful in achieving my goals. Taking time to ask ourselves these crucial questions will help us be more successful.
Questions to consider
Step #4: Update and set new goals
After you have reviewed your progress towards achieving your goals, you now have the opportunity to update your goals and think about new ones you may want to add. While you plan for the next six months, remember to set bold goals. When we look back on 2019, I want us to be very proud of the bold moves we made. Check out my post titled " Do you dare to do something great?". You also want to set goals in the categories that matter to you. Some examples of my priority categories are personal, finances, career, business, learning, and training.
Questions to consider
Step #5: Celebrate your achievements
The best way to wrap up your review is to write down all your achievements over the first six months of the year. This has become my favorite part of my reviews. Seeing my achievements on paper serves two purposes. Firstly, it shows that the hard work I put in is paying off and secondly it motivates me for the months ahead. Remember to add small achievements as well.
Questions to consider
About a week ago, I took out a few hours to reflect on the past six months. During my review, I started by reminding myself of my theme for 2019, which was " being brave or bold." Throughout my review I looked at my past months and future six months through that lens. I then went on to review the goals I set in January this year, measured my progress, updated them, and outlined my achievements.
Some of the things I did differently over the past months and during my review included the following:
Reflecting on some things I want to do differently to be more successful in 2019, here are some examples on my list:
I am very excited to make the next six months count and looking forward to the upcoming quarterly goals review in September.
Call to Action
Set aside two hours to review your year so far and plan for the next six months.
“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”- Brené Brown
Recently, I've been doing some deep self-reflection. Especially when I go through new situations that I'm not prepared for, I find the power by searching within myself. The conclusion I have come to is that I am a work in progress and I am accepting this MC. I spend a lot of time thinking about my growth areas and often forget to appreciate who I am today with all my imperfections. Yes, I am not perfect, and that's ok.
You might be wondering what the definition of imperfection is. The Collins Dictionary defines it as "an imperfection in someone or something is a fault, weakness, or undesirable feature that they have."
In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why you should embrace your imperfections and a little bit of my journey accepting my imperfections.
Five reasons to embrace your imperfections
Sharing some of the points that helped me start accepting my imperfect self.
#1: You get tired striving for perfection
The amount of time and resources you spend trying to be perfect in life or at work is a lot. Often, we put in so much effort into perfecting things that are already good enough. Especially when it comes to our skills and abilities, we pressure ourselves to be perfect and waste our energy. Sometimes, I wonder how much effort I would have saved if I did things to my best ability and then took a break instead of exerting more energy to make things perfect.
MC's Tip: Know when you have invested enough energy in a cause, then rest and move on to the next thing
#2: Your imperfect traits make you human
When we deal with other people who are not perfect like us, showing and accepting our imperfection makes them feel more comfortable around us. There is something about accepting people for who they are and supporting them in areas where we may be stronger.
MC's Tip: Show empathy for other people who are not perfect - like you.
#3: You become your authentic self
Imagine if you started accepting your whole self and being comfortable with who you are. We spend a lot of time trying to live up to other people's standards of perfection, and we forget to be ourselves. Being unique is a gift. No one can do what you are on this earth to do.
MC's Tip: Practice self-acceptance and be your true self.
#4: You can achieve more
Being a perfectionist hinders you from knowing when it is time to wrap a task up and move on to the next great thing. Instead of spending all your time on perfecting something that is good enough, think about the value of being able to achieve results in different areas. Being perfect in one area and neglecting other areas is not where you want to be.
MC's Tip: Celebrate your wins - you are achieving a lot despite your imperfection
#5: You will be happier
Accepting who you are with your imperfections, celebrating your imperfect results and showing empathy for others has one significant side effect - you are happier. Striving for perfection sometimes robs you of the feeling of gratitude for what you have achieved and who you are.
MC's Tip: Celebrate where you are on your journey, even if you're not completely where you want to be.
Accepting my imperfections has been a long journey for me. I spent a lot of time wishing I could change and not be the way I am. Especially in my childhood, being compared to others made me feel like there was something wrong with me that needed to be fixed.
At this stage in my life, I have learned that my imperfections make me MC. In the spirit of being vulnerable, I will share my top five imperfections with you
Sharing my imperfections would have scared me before. These days I want people to know the real me. I am not perfect, but I have good intentions, and I want to make the world a better place.
Call to Action
What are your imperfections? Identify them.
How are you going to start embracing them? Plan action.
At a recent Women in Leadership conference that I attended, the female speakers made time to celebrate the men in their lives. One of the speakers went further and brought her husband on stage to discuss how they balance taking care of their family and individual professional responsibilities. Hearing them share their experiences, got me thinking of the great men that have contributed or still contribute to my life.
Although I did not grow up with a father, I have had some great men in my life. Starting from uncles, family friends, managers, professional connections to my biggest supporter - my partner. These men have played very different roles in my life ranging from being positive examples of great men to providing me with great work opportunities to believing in me and my talents.
This Father's day I want to do something different. If you have great men in your life, then join me in making time to appreciate them. And if you can't think of any great men in your life, use this as some inspiration for what to look out for.
In this blog post, I will share more about the men who have played a significant role in my life. I have created some groups to help me shorten the post.
To the great men who influenced me
Growing up, there were some tremendous male influences. Some of them were family, and others were friends that became family. I grew up mostly around women, so the few great men around us stood out.
To my Teachers and Professors
I have been fortunate to have some great teachers and professors that shared knowledge with me and instilled the passion for continuous learning in me. I think way back to my secondary school teachers and my university professors.
To my Professional connections
On my career journey, there have been some great men who have believed in my skills and abilities. I'm grateful to the men who offered me great opportunities that helped me start and grow my career.
To my Managers
In my career so far, I have had some great managers who were invested in my career growth and success. Especially in my early career, having great professional support was very helpful.
To my Partner
The other day someone said to me, "your partner is an amazing man," and I totally agreed with her. In the over ten years of our relationship, he has always been there for me. He supports me on my mission to leave a strong legacy.
To all the great men out there who are supporting their women as they chase their passions, Happy Father's day.
Thank you for being great men and role models for the next generation.
Call to Action
Who are the great men that have contributed to your life? Find a way to tell them you appreciate them.
My self-discovery Journey started a few years ago. I wanted to know myself better and work towards things that were important to me. Realizing that I am fully responsible for my destiny, not my family or my background helped me take action. I use the term journey because it is continuous; I don’t see this journey ending anytime soon. As I discover more about myself, I uncover other parts of me that I want to explore more of and develop.
In this blog post, we will explore the definition of self-discovery, some tools to help you as well as questions you can ask yourself to start on your journey.
What is self-discovery?
What tools can you use on your self-discovery journey?
Tool #1: Self-reflection
Making time to think about your experiences, your potential, and your future is crucial. There is so much you can learn from reflecting on past experiences and where you are now. Towards the end of every year, we get reminded to reflect on the past year and plan for the new year. I have found power in taking the time to reflect more often than once a year. Every Friday morning, I spend about 30 minutes reflecting on my week.
Tool #2: Journaling
Writing things down in a journal can be very therapeutic. While I reflect, I write down the highlights and the lowlights of my week. Especially if you are feeling overwhelmed, creating a list of things you are grateful for helps adjust your perspective. Another benefit of journaling is offloading your heavy thoughts. This frees up your mind for new ideas and enables you to move on.
There are great tools out there that can help you discover the power that lies within you. I have taken some great assessments that have helped me either uncover my strengths or learn how to articulate them. The top two self-assessments that I recommend for everyone to take are Strengthsfinder 2.0 and Personality Types.
Tool #4: Learning
Interestingly as you learn new things, you discover more about your interests, your strengths, and potential. There are many skills that I did not know I had until I started learning something new or taking classes. Learning for me has not only helped me discover more of my skills; it has helped me improve them and do more of what I enjoy doing.
Tool #5: Community
Surrounding yourself with people who are also on a journey to discover themselves is very important. I value the ladies in my community a lot. Although we are all on our journeys, sharing our experiences encourages us. It's great that we don't have to be alone on the incredible quest to get to know ourselves better.
How well do you know yourself?
Some inspiration questions to ask yourself to get to know yourself better:
Call to Action
Have you thought about yourself lately? Make time to discover yourself.
Do you appreciate yourself? Celebrate yourself today.
Have you ever heard people say "to get ahead you have to self-promote"? Initially, this statement made me uncomfortable. However, as I have progressed in my career, I fully agree with the importance of being able to promote myself. I recently attended an "Iamremarkable" training and it made me start thinking about the power of self-promotion. Making time to think about what makes me remarkable and sharing with people around me made me feel empowered and proud.
In this blog post, we will explore the definition of self-promotion, reasons to promote yourself as well as tips to help you learn how to promote yourself.
What does self-promotion mean?
Reasons why you need to promote yourself
Mastering the art of promoting yourself
Explore some questions to help you assess how well you promote yourself and tips to start self-promotion.
Do you know you are remarkable?
Let's start with the most important thing - you are unique and amazing. There is no one like you on this earth. I know we are not trained to love ourselves. There are many negative words used to describe self-love. It's time to break free from that mold and start loving yourself. It's ok that you're not perfect. You are you!
MC's Tip: Accept and celebrate your whole self.
How do you talk about yourself?
When people ask you the question "tell me about yourself," it can be a difficult question to answer, especially if you are not prepared with a response. Thinking of an answer on the spot does not come easy to most of us. The good news is that you can learn how to talk about yourself. Personally, thinking about the one thing I want people to remember about me after they walk away from our conversation helps me. There are many great resources that can help you perfect the first impression.
MC's Tip: Practice introducing and talking about yourself as much as you can. It will get better with time.
Do you know and talk about your strengths?
Many of us find it hard to talk about what we do well. A few years ago, I started my journey to discover my strengths. I found it easier to talk about my weaknesses but struggled to think about my strengths. Read more on how I discovered my superpowers in my post, "Know your strengths." Talking about your strengths is what gets you those great opportunities.
MC's Tip: Discover your strengths and talk about them.
How do you talk about your accomplishments?
It took me a long while to embrace the opportunities to promote myself. I believed that my work will speak for itself and that I didn't need to do anything else. Especially with my move to the US, that theory was proven wrong. Doing great work is essential; however, talking about it may be more important in some cases.
MC's Tip: Start tracking your accomplishments and celebrate them.
How can you learn to promote yourself more?
We all know those people who quickly talk about their skills and services in every conversation. Two things may happen when we hear them. We either dislike their approach or feel impressed by their ability to promote themselves. I want to encourage you to surround yourself with people who self-promote well. It will help you learn how to promote yourself.
MC's Tip: Observe people around you who promote themselves well and get ahead. Start promoting yourself.
Call to Action
What makes you remarkable? Think about three things that make you amazing and share it with three people this week.
What makes the people around you remarkable? Ask people about themselves and give them the opportunity to promote themselves.
Have you been thinking about doing something bold? What has been holding you back?
Earlier this year, the ladies in one of my Mastermind groups read a book titled "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown. Reading the book and sharing learnings with great women challenged me to take bold steps this year. I had started the year with my theme of "being bold," but now I knew that I had to dare to do greater things.
In this blog post, I will share some steps to set your daring greatly goal and my journey to do great things this year.
What is a daring greatly goal?
I define this as a goal you are working towards that seems impossible, but you are willing to take the risk and make it happen. It is typically a goal with high personal reward.
How to achieve your daring greatly goal
Exploring five steps to help you define your goals and take steps to achieve them.
Step 1: Think about the great things you want to do
While we were reading the book, this question stood out to me " What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?". Although I had set my goals for the year, I had to go back and review them to see if they were daring greatly goals. There were some bold goals on my list. However, I felt that I needed to challenge myself to make even more daring moves. Personally, the bravest things I wanted to do this year were, start my YouTube channel, share my content with more people and ask for a promotion at work.
Step 2: Identify what has been holding you back
Now that you know the great things you want to do, it is time to assess the challenges and potential roadblocks. Start by asking yourself why are you not doing the great things yet? Write down what comes to mind when you ask yourself this question. Take as much time as you need and be totally honest. Self-doubt has been one of my biggest roadblocks. I have good ideas, but I'm afraid to share them. Address those fears that are holding you back.
Step 3: Get excited about your daring greatly goal
Your daring greatly goal is usually bigger than your typical yearly goals, and it would take you being very excited to achieve them. Think about why you are eager to work on this goal. For me, one of the significant advantages of reading the book as a group was hearing the ladies share their daring greatly goals. Most of them were passions that they had for many years but never got to do. Thinking of working on my daring greatly goals that I sat on for so long excites me. I'm very excited and looking forward to seeing the results.
Step 4: Set milestones and define success
Especially when you are working on large goals, it is essential to be clear on what the definition of success is. I have been learning to focus on small milestones and achievements not only on the final result. This helps keep me motivated and excited because I can see the progress I am making towards the bigger goal.
Step 5: Take steps towards achieving your goal
Now that you have identified your daring greatly goal, it is time to start taking steps towards it. Especially if this is a goal that you have been sitting on for a while, now is the time to prove to yourself that you can do it. Continue making progress and never give up on your goal.
Call to Action
What are your big goals aka daring greatly goals for this year? Think big and start working towards your goals.
Are you settling in your relationship, at work, or in life? Have you given up your desire and will to fight for more? Are you accepting the status quo?
Recently, I had a conversation with a lady, and she expressed how she was not expecting more than just the average rating on her performance assessment. Her argument was, that's what the company gives new people irrespective of how good they are. Her response got me thinking, how is she ready to settle for that and not fight it?
In this blog post, we will explore what it means to settle for something and the reasons why you should not settle for less.
What does it mean to settle for something?
Why do we settle for less?
There are many reasons why women settle for less. Here are the most common reasons:
Five reasons why settling is not acceptable
Let's explore some additional thoughts on why it is essential for you to want more.
#1: You are destined for greatness
I strongly believe that we are all on this earth for a purpose. We need to do everything in our power to live out our purpose. There is so much power that lies within you. It's time to start sharing your gifts with the world.
#2: You are worth a lot more
You have worked very hard to be where you are today. By settling for less, you are taking your sacrifices for granted. Get comfortable asking for what you are worth. Great things come to those who ask for more and work for it too.
#3: You need to prove the "system" wrong
As women, we may face some systematic challenges and sometimes we have to fight an uphill battle. One of the biggest motivators for me is proving people wrong when they try to tell me what I can't do or put me in a box. We need to make it a priority to show people all that we can do when we put our mind to it.
#4: You are setting an example for the next generation
One constant thought in my mind is, what example am I setting for my seven-year-old niece and other young ladies around me. Showing them that they can be anything they want to be, is my life mission. Being great role models is a significant responsibility.
#5: You need to activate your dreams
A lot of the dreams and passions you have can only come to live if you stretch outside of your comfort zone. Think about all the great things you want to do in life and plan to take action.
Call to Action
What would you do if you were not settling anymore? Imagine if you started thinking that you have no limits and no boundaries on what you can achieve.