Put First Things First

Habit 3Personal Development thought of the day….
Putting first things first is critical to successful self management. Effective self management encompasses exercising independent will and practicing discipline.  You have to develop a value proposition and make sure that your actions work in harmony with it.  Most importantly, you have to take the time to identify  your main thing, assign it first position and take the steps necessary to ensure it stays there.
Source:  Covey, S. (2004). The 7 habits of highly successful people. New York:NY
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Personal Development – By Design or By Default?

Personal development is key!  If you are not already aware of where you are,  you will not be able to successfully direct yourself to where you want to be.  How much time are you devoting to growth and personal development?  How much do you read?  I have been neglectful of this but decided to get back on track.  Right nIMG_20160607_055423_255000ow, I am revisiting a personal favorite – The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.

Today’s reading was on Habit 2 –  Begin with the end in mind.  The excepts pictured are particularly meaningful to me.  The idea of dual creation was unique when I first read it but definitely made sense.  The key point for me is this – Our first creation stems from external forces around us.  Our second creation can either be ours or that of someone else’s design based on their agenda…IF WE LET THEM.  “In our personal lives, if we do not develop our own self awareness, we empower other people and circumstances outside our Circle of Influence to shape much of our lives.  We reactively live the scripts handed to us by family, associates, other people’s agendas, the pressure of circumstances…” (p. 107).  Beginning with the end in mind is critical to living a life by design and not a life by default.  Which one are you living?

Source:  Covey, S. 2004. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, NY

Believing in Your Own Hype

25727109780_1b1f1f4609That’s not true because…hmph.  A strange but true concept.  My inner pessimist is weighing heavy on my outer optimist.  An internal war of sorts and negativity has been winning.  But not anymore. It all stops today.  Well, maybe tomorrow. Actually, I don’t know if it will ever stop but I’ll keep telling myself it will.

One day I logged in to my company’s intranet site and saw a blog post by our CEO.  It was thought provoking to say the least.  The question he posed was “have you found what
matter?”  What bothered me the most about the questions was I couldn’t immediately answer.  I managed to craft a nice response in which I made reference to our values.  But after hitting send I realized two things: (1) I didn’t answer the questions; and (2) I didn’t answer it because I didn’t believe in my own hype.

“Hype” is a fascinating term.  It can take on various meanings.  It can mean to be full of it.  Or it can mean to boost something or someone up.  My use of the term takes on the later meaning.  I love to hype those around me.  I hate the thought of someone being down when I know I am capable of picking them up.  Knowing just what to say is a gift of sorts.  A gift I can always seem to give everyone but myself.  I can “fix” others around me even if only temporarily but I cannot seem to avoid staying broken.

I know I am not the only “me” out there.  I know there are others who are great at being someone else’s “hype” man and who fail miserably at hyping themselves.  So I decided to share my journey to becoming my own hype man in hopes of helping others.  My hope is to help others do a few things:

(1) Acknowledge that it is okay to have these feelings;

(2) Get out of your own emotional way; and

(3) Find small ways to be your own hype man so you can feel as great about yourself as you make others feel about themselves.

It’s that simple.  Not rocket science.  No PhD required.  Just an open mind and open heart.  Follow me with this in mind and I promise to do the same as I put “pen” to paper.

Next up…”How I Got Into the Hype Business”….

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True Definition of Success

As I look back on my career, there have been many peaks and valleys.  I choose to focus not on what has been achieved but what it took to achieve it.  For the lessons that come out of those battles and struggles have taught me more than the momentary celebrations ever will.  I believe you are only as great as the obstacles you have to overcome.

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Visibly Invisible

24697474723_892242a450_nFor most of my career I have worked in corporate America and for most of my career there has been one constant…I have never permanently worked under or reported to a leader of color.  I also have yet to be on a team where there were more than a handful of people of color within my immediate working circle.  What’s the issue?

Everyone seems to love to talk about and tout diversity and inclusion efforts.  But I wonder how much of that is pomp and circumstance as opposed to true effort and intentional execution of a meaningful strategy. From where I sit, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of diverse talent within organizations.  There is, however, a shortage of diverse leaders at the top of organizations.

Now before I go any further, I want to be clear.  When I reference “diversity” or “people of color” I am not limiting my sentiments to African Americans.  Diversity issues vary based on the industry or situation.  Any number of people from  protected classes can rightfully argue that they are not truly given a fair chance at having a seat at the top.  So what do we do?

I have observed many of my peers choose to leave situations where the likelihood of promotion or success was slim to none in comparison to their counterparts.  For some it has worked well and they have been able to rise to the levels of senior and executive management.  But what about those who are left behind?

Talking about diversity in some ways is almost as taboo as talking about ones mental health status or sexual orientation.  As a matter of fact, in some instances I think people would rather tackle those issues than the issue of diversity or lack thereof. If you’re impacted and have strong feelings about your position and potential in a seemingly non-diverse leadership environment, you dare not speak up for fear you will kill your career. The only option, it seems, is to remain visibly invisible.

HR knows you’re there.  Executive leadership knows you’re there.  You know you’re there. Everyone can see you clearly when you sit at certain levels in the organization.  It’s when you aspire to achieve those high level leadership roles that  you, your potential and opportunities for success become faded until it feels like you are invisible.  When those roles or opportunities become available, it is as if no one sees you or wants to see. So what do you do?

In his book, Originals, Adam Grant talks about the four options for handling a dissatisfying situation: exit, voice, persistence and neglect (p.79). In the context of navigating while being visibly invisible, exit is the simplest remedy – you leave and go where you have a greater potential to achieve higher level roles.  Voice is  a little more challenging because it means “actively trying to improve the situation” (p.79), i.e. not only identifying the problem but coming to the table with potential solutions. Persistence is just dealing with it.   In my mind this is synonymous with acceptance – it’s always been this way and it will never change but as long as I do my best, I can deal with it. Last but not least there is neglect which means you stick it out while slowly giving less and less.  Whether there is a right or wrong response can be debated but when you are trying to effectuate change, the most effective one is voice.

Think about a ship at sea.  As it sails through the fog, you may not see it but as it nears land or another vessel you will certainly hear the horn signaling its approach.  The same can be true while navigating thru visible invisibility.  You speak up.  You clear the fog of bias and stereotypes and you voice your concerns. Easier said than done, I know, but not impossible.  One thing you must do is never give up.  As difficult as it is to imagine that,  in 2016, people are still not being afforded equal opportunities, staying visibly invisible and silent won’t solve the problem, it only adds to it.


Grant, A. (2016). Originals: How Non-Comformists Move the World. New York: Penguin Random House.

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