Sacrifice

One of the awesome things about planning our parent’s joint 80th birthday party was discovering information, hearing stories and finding pictures we had not known, heard or seen. I came across this never-before-seen-by me picture of my impossibly fresh faced, impressively attired, and incredibly gorgeous Mom and Dad before they became parents.

It was a reminder that my Mom had an identity before she became a mother, and enjoyed activities that didn’t involve my siblings and me. And that my Dad was barely out of college when he temporarily sought employment in Chicago to support his growing family.

The picture led me to a greater appreciation of all the sacrifices they made that allowed us to soar.

Inhale Gratitude, Exhale Taking for Granted…
Inhale Appreciation, Exhale Disregard…
Inhale Acknowledgment, Exhale Dismissal…
Just Breathe

#Gratitude
#JustBreathe

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Grateful for Greatness

I’ve been reflecting the last few days on a couple of weeks full of #BlackGirlMagic and feeling so grateful to have been in the presence of  amazing women, like…
Shanute Brewer, who is exposing her young VISIONaries to STEM subjects like coding;
Jamila Trimuel who is helping 9-18 year-old girls discover their purpose, passion and perserverance;
April Ervin, who just published her first book and is trying to help Superwomen save themselves;
Eva Kennedy, who is focused on helping women in transition find clarity;

Mox.E Women support the professional and personal development of women in leadership.

the women of Mox.E who empower women to live their purpose;
Dr. Yashika N. Tippett, the founding principal of Air Force Academy High School, who just brought the first flight training program to the Chicagoland area;
Tammera Holmes, the founder and CEO of AeroStar, who is creating bonafide pilots for an airline industry with a looming shortage of them;

So happy to see AeroStar Founder Tammera Holmes at the YWPL 40 Under 40 induction! Photo by Travon Prentis, TCP Photography.

Young Women Professionals League members, who are focused on developing siSTAR leaders holistically;
Aunt Oprah and FFL (Forever First Lady) Michelle Obama, who are showing the way;
my sister Vanessa Smith, who has successfully led her business for over 20 years
and my daughter, Renise Alexander, who is pursuing her passion for travel by any means necessary!

I am so grateful for your examples of excellence, persistence and resilience. You inspire hope…you inspire greatness.

#Gratitude
#Greatness

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My Leadership Team

I’m a lifelong learner who prefers reading as my primary source of information. I suspect the solitude of reading recharges me in a way I don’t receive from other media.

So I am grateful to be here in the time of leadership gurus like my some of my favs, John Maxwell, Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman and T.D. Jakes.

I am grateful that I can pull up over 40 English versions (plus audio!) of the Bible on my phone (thanks Pastor Craig for YouVersion)!

I’m grateful the Tao Te Ching has been interpreted by the late Wayne Dyer, that Marianne Williamson has shared her lessons from A Course in Miracles and that Iyanla VanZant has made lessons of her own life.

And when I’m not reading, I’m so grateful that a black woman created her OWN media empire which exposes me to thought leaders from a variety of perspectives.

I’m sopping up every drop of wisdom they have to offer, then offering what I’ve learned to anyone who wants it and thanking God for my “team” and my circle of influence!

Inhale Gratitude, Exhale Taking for Granted…
Inhale Wisdom, Exhale Withholding Knowledge…
Inhale Influence, Exhale Ignoring Needs…
Just Breathe

#Leadership
#JustBreathe

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Life Decisions

A friend of mine said she was mad at God when the choice she made didn’t work out the way she planned. And I started to question her… then I remembered the stupid thing I did when I didn’t pay attention to my inner knowing, the God voice whispering, the feeling in my gut.

I thought about the clear revelation I didn’t hear … the thing right in front of me that I didn’t see … the mistakes made more than once.

And I shut my mouth.

“People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, so why does God always get blamed?” Proverbs 19:3 MSG

Inhale Discernment, Exhale Disregarding Your Knowing…
Inhale Action, Exhale Discounting Your Options…
Inhale Ownership, Exhale Diminishing Your Responsibility…
Just Breathe

#Leadership
#JustBreathe

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Reluctant Leader

My leadership experience began early in life; as the oldest of five and the oldest grandchild on both sides of my family, I was often “voluntold” to lead my siblings and/or cousins in some activity, an exercise usually like herding cats but nowhere near as smooth as that EDS commercial from a few years ago…the one where cowboys are herding cats…but I digress!

That early leadership experience showed me that, with no authority, I needed some other ways to influence my “team” to carry out our responsibilities. I needed to communicate with clarity. I needed to keep my emotions in check. I needed to be more compassionate sister.

I needed to be a better leader.

Inhale Leadership, Exhale Reluctance…
Inhale Responsibility, Exhale Irresponsibility…
Inhale Influence, Exhale Reticence…
Just Breathe

#Leadership
#JustBreathe

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Influence is Relational

Leadership is influence. But influence outside of relationship is almost impossible. So this mission-oriented, borderline introvert had to step out of my comfort zone to find the relationship approach that authentically worked for my personality and allowed me to connect with the folks I was privileged to lead.

That meant one-on-one, or small group interactions, which allowed me to be really engaged with each individual.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” ~ John Maxwell

Inhale Relationship, Exhale Isolation…
Inhale Influence, Exhale Intimidation…
Inhale Leadership, Exhale Incompetence…
Just Breathe

#Leadership
#JustBreathe

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Lead Yourself First

You are a leader… even if you’re just leading yourself. Leading yourself is the most important, most difficult leadership task. Leading yourself well means being who you say you are and doing what you say you will. It requires some self-awareness and includes being disciplined, being committed and being accountable to yourself and in alignment with your purpose.

Inhale Integrity, Exhale Irresponsibility…
Inhale Alignment, Exhale Abandonment…
Inhale Your Best You, Exhale A Lessor You…
Just Breathe

#Leadership
#JustBreathe

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Alternate Plan

After planning and executing a few high profile events, I briefly considered event planning as a post Air Force career option. Then I discovered the stress of a demanding career and single parenthood had contributed to a diagnosis of thyroid disease. I recognized I hadn’t handled my busy life as smoothly as I thought I had.

So I reconsidered my phase two career options, resolved to live a more balanced life and reduced activities and acquisitions to what was absolutely necessary to live on purpose.

And so far, so good…

Inhale Reflection, Exhale Rejection…
Inhale Resolution, Exhale Ego…
Inhale Redirection, Exhale Stubbornness…
Just Breathe

#Awareness
#JustBreathe

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Mastery

I was in the 4th or 5th grade when I realized that lashing out at my siblings when they interrupted my solitude didn’t get me more quiet time; it only got me in trouble. So I resolved to do a better job of controlling my emotions. I frequently failed.

It took me a while to understand that instead of repressing my emotions, I needed to recognize what I was reacting to and choose a rational response that incorporated my feelings and reason. And that mastery is a life long endeavor…

“…every emotion offers information about you that is important. When you ignore your emotions, you ignore that information.” ~ Gary Kukav, The Heart of the Soul

Inhale Realization, Exhale Repression…
Inhale Rationality, Exhale Irrationality…
Inhale Response, Exhale Reaction…
Just Breathe

#Awareness
#JustBreathe

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Emotional Awareness

We can’t prevent, avoid or circumvent our emotions. Our sadness, frustration, anger, hurt, jealousy, etc., are all a part of the human experience. Our emotions are telling us something about how we are processing our experiences. We don’t have to act on them…but we must go through them to get to wholeness.

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” ~ Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Inhale Emotions, Exhale Stoicism…
Inhale Energy, Exhale Avoidance…
Inhale Experiences, Exhale Repression…
Just Breathe

#Awareness
#JustBreathe

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