Author Archives: Natalie Jobity

Three teaching “AHA” Moments

I am almost through with my first semester of teaching Introduction to Business to a group of mostly college freshmen. What An Experience! I’m learning SO much—about how to teach, how to communicate more clearly, about my students, but most of all about myself. Getting in front of a classroom of twenty 17-20-something year-old kids first thing in the morning is nothing, if not a humbling experience.  They’re my captive audience–that is, when they are not glued to their cell phone or otherwise engaged.  I never thought it would be so difficult to command 80 minutes of attention. I’ve spoken successfully to professional audiences in the past, and in my career as a market researcher, I had to give presentations and chair meetings that were way longer, myriad times. Yet, these kids are a challenge. I keep striving to be a better communicator. It is my job, not theirs to keep them engaged or in the very least, entertained.

oprah aha moment

So I’m learning and growing and evolving as a teacher. Here are 3 of the biggest lessons I have gleaned thus far.

  1. It’s not about me, it’s all about them. Well this was a shocker. One of my biggest concerns coming into teaching this course was not being able to be the dynamic presenter I know I can be. In my first few classes, I left dejected when I felt I didn’t do a good job “presenting” the information. But then I had an ‘aha’ moment when I realized these kids could give a darn about my presenting skills. They were there to learn, and to get the highest grade they were capable of. Whether I presented the content flawlessly or clumsily was moot if they did not learn a few things after that class. So I started to relax. Once I let myself off the hook, I was really able to be PRESENT to them. What DID they really need from me? How could I make them understand the difference between fiscal and monetary policy, at its most basic level, without whipping myself into a frenzy drawing charts on the board trying to impress them with my skills? Once I realized that I was there to serve them completely with everything I had to offer, I could really begin to teach.
  2. Keep it Real. You know who you really can’t impress especially when you’re trying? College aged students! They really don’t care how smart I am or how many degrees I have. I can’t “pretend” to be a teacher. I can only be me. Because of my personality, I’m very self –conscious when I don’t know the answers to their questions. And to be honest, there is a lot I don’t know.  Once I gave up trying to be perfect and instead focused on being authentic, I fostered stronger connections with them.  In my first class, I was using the restaurant Chipotle as an example for a SWOT analysis, and I noticed a few of them snickering. Well I’ll be darned—I had been pronouncing it CHIP-OL-TE  for years and never realized it until these students corrected me. I had to laugh with them and just let it go. I know it endeared me to them that much more. I’m not perfect. I’m human. And that’s exactly as it should be.
  3. Never Assume. My class is diverse as you would expect at a community college. These kids are there for a variety of reasons and they have varying levels of ability. In my first few classes, I was trying so hard to impress the “smart kids” that I was excluding the ones who were really learning many of the concepts for the first time.  The latter are the majority. But I was so insecure about my abilities as a teacher, that it never occurred to me until class number 7 after the first exam, that the majority of the students needed me to go a whole lot slower. I was assuming they all got it. Grading that first exam was an eye opener.  I was appalled by how little seemed to be sinking in. But it forced me to dig deep and try a new approach. Now I teach for the weakest kid in that class. I know the smart kids will get it. But if I can make an underperformer get it? Priceless!  This is now what fuels me.

Teaching might be my toughest job yet. But now I understand what they say about this work being fulfilling, if you approach it with the right heart. And I figure, if I can be a decent teacher, then there probably isn’t anything that I can’t do if I put my mind and heart into it, and get out of my own way.

Related Posts:

5 Ways to Build a Legacy Brand like Martha Stewart’s

Five Ways to Use Your Words for Good

Dare to be Brilliantly You

5 Steps to Leverage your Vulnerability for Victory 

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, marketing consultant and freelance writer and editor. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide:Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.  Email her at Natalie@Nataliejobity.com.

Five ways to Build a Personal Brand like Martha Stewart’s

MarthaStewart1

Personal branding is a term that is over used yet often misunderstood.  In truth, your personal brand is part of your identity—it is a way to communicate who you are and what you stand for to your professional circle. It is your unique value and reputation in the marketplace. What it is not is a façade or persona you put on to impress.  What makes a personal brand, well, so personal, is how authentic it needs to be to be effective.  It HAS to be about you—your skills, your values, your experience, your interests, your points of differentiation.   Your personal brand can incorporate your mission, but it is in the living manifestation of that mission that your personal brand becomes dynamic.

Personal-Branding

In my last post, I challenged readers to think of 6 or 7 attributes that they wanted associated with them as a foundational step to building their brand narrative.  Getting a clear intention on how you wish to be perceived really gets you thinking critically of the messages you have been putting out inadvertently. For instance, in my last workshop, I had a young man describe one of his attributes as creative, yet he had difficulty articulating how he expressed this trait professionally. He certainly didn’t “look” creative—in fact he looked pretty conservative! Nothing in his appearance or demeanor gave the impression that he had a creative bone in his body. Yet he wanted to be perceived as creative. When your appearance or communication is at odds with your desired brand identity how do you reconcile it?

The simplest way is to act as if the desired trait is an integral part of you. In this young man’s case, I asked a few probing questions: Did he share creative ideas at work? Did he come up with creative ways to solve problems? Was he creative in his pursuit of his career goals? Did he manifest creativity in other ways? With some digging, we did find quite a few creative kernels in his professional life. And because he had a renewed awareness of how important this attribute was to him, he vowed to make it a more vital part of his professional reality. This is what personal branding is all about!  It is about strategically positioning yourself in a way that allows the most salient aspects of your brand identity to be front and center so it is obvious to your peers, clients, managers, co-workers etc. that this is part of your unique value proposition as a brand.

Think about Martha Stewart for a minute. How did she get to be Martha? What makes her a lifestyle maven? Even after a very public setback, Martha Stewart’s brand re-emerged stronger than ever.  How? For Martha it has always been about her branding. Everything about Martha communicates her key brand characteristics of excellence, high quality, traditional American living, trusted friend and advisor and homemaker. Her brand and identity are almost synonymous.

Martha Stewart likely employed many of the following elements as she built her legacy brand. Ask yourself, is your brand:

  1. Memorable? How does your brand engage? What makes you and the delivery of your brand promise unforgettable? What can you do to consistently exceed others’ expectations of uyou?
  2. Authentic? You are the CEO of your brand. Your brand must be built on your true identity. This is core of your brand. What is true and genuine to you? How can you convey that?
  3. Compelling? What is your story? How would you answer, “Tell me about yourself?” Are you reinforcing your brand message consistently by your presence, behavior, communications (online and offline) and performance?
  4. Differentiated? Are you ordinary or extraordinary? Are you a commodity or a brand? What is distinctive about you professionally? What unique skills/talents do you bring to the table? What can you specialize in? How can you add value to the business at hand?
  5. Aspirational? Are you aiming high enough to give your brand the opportunity to deliver in an expansive way? What other strong personal brands can you leverage? What hidden opportunities are available within your company/industry which you have yet to tap into? Be bigger, brighter, and bolder than you are now.

Finally, you must be persistent. Your brand needs time to grow. It should be developed organically. Great personal brands like Martha Stewart’s  have taken years to grow into household names after a long period of dedicated work, sacrifice, courage, and patience to persist. Take your time, don’t give up, believe in yourself, and be patient.

Natalie Jobity is a marketing consultant, business coach, inspirational author and freelance writer and editor. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. 

Does your Personal Brand Pack Punch?

 

personal branding--does it hurt

Recently I gave a presentation on personal branding to a group of young professionals who are members of an association. As part of the workshop, I challenged them to consider how they wanted to be perceived as a brand. Specifically, what did they want people to know about them upon meeting them for the first time.  The responses were as diverse and creative as the attendees, but underscored the importance of thinking strategically about one’s brand persona.  Many professionals don’t take the time to consider how they are positioning one of their most powerful assets—their brand’s identity.

In one of the more interactive aspects of the workshop, I worked with one of the professionals to help him flesh out his brand story. Essentially, I queried him on his skills, interests, values, personality, experience and more—anything that could potentially have a bearing on his brand promise. It was a rich exchange. Before long it became clear to all of us that he valued people and that this was a deep core value for him. It informed his work ethic, management style, the type of purpose he felt he was called to fulfill in his role, his relationships with colleagues and reports and even the way he showed up dressed for work. He was the perfect example to me of the heart of what personal branding is about—getting clear on your unique value proposition –your special points of differentiation from others in the professional arena.

Portrait of businessman holding blank card

Because here is the truth: we all have a brand, whether we leverage it or not, tout it or not. We are communicating messages all the time about who we are, what we stand for, and what we bring to the table. Yet so many professionals do not intentionally craft their brand personas but instead leave it up to the whim of others to define it for them. That approach leads to a weak, ineffective, inauthentic brand. Why leave your personal brand to chance?

“ You have the choice and the power to craft a strong, healthy, vibrant brand that engages, inspires and robustly performs. It starts with getting clear. It starts with intent.”

As a foundational step in building a strong brand, write out 6 or 7 attributes that you want associated with you.  Think really intentionally about each one to ensure it resonates with you. Solicit feedback from your family, friends and co-workers.  These descriptors will be the platform from which you start to create a meaty narrative for your brand. Your narrative is everything about you; all of the salient experiences, interests, skills and aptitudes you possess anchored by your values, beliefs and character.  This is where you will do the heavy lifting defining and shaping your brand so it is positioned for success.

Your brand is very much aligned with your reputation in the workplace. Like a corporate brand, it is your promise of what others can expect from you. Take the time to build a solid foundation, to shape it in a way that propels you forward and helps you achieve your professional aspirations.

Look for part 2 of this post where I will discuss the 6 key features of a strong personal brand.

What 3 words would you want associated with you?

Related Posts:

Five Ways to Use Your Words for Good

Dare to be Brilliantly You

5 Steps to Leverage your Vulnerability for Victory 

3 Ps to Success: Patience, Perseverance and Prayer

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, marketing consultant and freelance writer and editor. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. 

 

 

Six Tips to Combat Perfectionism

Red apple and A Plus sign, Concept of learning

If you’re an over achiever like me, you may develop a habit of equating your performance at work with your level of self-worth.  As high-achievers, we can become addicted to the adrenaline rush of exceeding expectations, receiving praise for a job well-done, getting that recommendation, collecting accolades upon accolades, getting that raise or promotion. It never ends, does it? I don’t know about you but it is exhausting. The effort of besting oneself over and over again plays itself out over time. And here’s the rub: when the outside validation stops for whatever reason—career change, job loss, retirement, illness, a dry period, reaching one’s desired zenith, or simply growing out of favor—what is left? What do you hang onto when the only people you have cheering you on are me, myself and I?

It is at this juncture that you find out whether or not you have nurtured and fostered a healthy self-esteem in yourself. Seeking external affirmation is risky business as it depends on the fickle fancies of folks who often come and go with the tide.  The only constant is our unwavering and unfailingly loving God and the “self” that we have allowed to either foster or to flounder. Seeking self-approval begins and ends within. There is no short cut, no fast track, no other way.

life is a marathon

So what are perfectionism seekers to do? Here are 6 principles that continue to work for me:

  1. Accept that failure is part of the human experience. Yes, success feels great, I know. But real success only comes when we are truly willing to accept that failure is an option and we will survive it. I can attest to that!
  2. Spend time loving on yourself to truly bolster your inner confidence. Embrace praise but don’t substitute it for your own internal positive self-talk. What do you say to yourself in your down time? Are you building and lifting yourself up or tearing yourself down? Do you know that it doesn’t matter who thinks you’re awesome if you don’t?
  3. Focus on progress not perfection. High achievers are often perfection seekers. But the truth is that none of us is perfect. Aiming for perfection is a losing game. Instead aim to keep growing and learning. And learning some more.
  4. Recognize that you are so much greater than the “A”, the perfect 5 satisfaction rating, the exemplary performance—these are just metrics, you are divinely YOU in all your expression. The bible says, you are God’s masterpiece, created anew in Jesus Christ. Be not just satisfied, but awed with that.
  5. Know that having expectations of others is the pathway to disappointment. Chances are if you just concentrate on being the best version of yourself, the right people will notice and reward you accordingly. Let that be enough.
  6. Loosen up! Life is meant to be experienced and enjoyed. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Get those endurance muscles in gear and enjoy the long ride. And discover yourself along the way.

(c) Natalie Jobity

Related Posts:

Dare to be Brilliantly You

5 Steps to Leverage Your Vulnerability for Victory 

The 3 Ps: Patience, Perseverance and Prayer 

Be Simply Inspired 

 

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. 

Contact her writer@nataliejobity.com

 

In the Pursuit of Excellence: Be I.N.S.P.I.R.E.D.

I often marvel at the passion with which I see high achievers perform their work. It makes me wonder what set them apart from others who just seem to coast through work and life. I believe it is their commitment to excellence.  It has been said that excellence is a habit, an attitude, something we strive for and commit to.

excellence aristotle

Excellence is active—it is about doing, not simply being.  But what really drives a person to excel? I think if we observed the habits of those who we hold in high esteem for their commitment to excellence, we will find they are I.N.S.P.I.R.E.D.  and share the following traits in common:

  • They are INNOVATORS. Excellence seekers don’t just wait for opportunity to knock, they build the door. They make it happen. They envision their end goal in mind and they do what it takes to see it to fruition. “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential…these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence. “ Confucius
  • They are NIMBLE. You can’t perform at your peak if you aren’t quick to adapt to changing circumstances and people. Situations often require us to think on our feet, to respond spontaneously, and to make quick decisions. Those on a path to excellence understand that the failure to make a decision is itself a decision—they use obstacles as stepping stones to their goal and quickly address problems as they occur. Nimble people recover from setbacks and push forward towards their goal.
  • They are  SUCCESS-DRIVEN in whatever endeavor they undertake.  I believe that excellence is the vehicle to success.  Success comes when we go above and beyond in our actions, when we exceed expectations, when we soar above constraints and limitations—when we practice excellence.   It is not accidental. “Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” Booker T Washington

excellence sign

  • They are PURPOSEFUL and have an overarching vision which guides their actions. Without a singular purpose in pursuit of a dream, excellence is impossible.  Think of all the great leaders, performers and innovators of our time: Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Gates, Michael Jackson, Howard Schultz, Steve Jobs, Oprah—all had a vision and purpose, a singular calling that made them strive to achieve despite criticism, amidst challenges and in spite of perceived improbability.  They saw what we could not see, did what we could not do, and by passionately pursuing their Purpose they created something magnificent.
  • They have INTEGRITY. A person in pursuit of excellence does not tolerate mediocrity of any kind. They perform at a high level and they take pride in their effort.  They place a high premium on their honor, consistency and reliability. It is their attitude and approach to life that gives them an edge over others.  “It is your attitude, not your aptitude that determines your altitude.” Zig Ziglar
  • They are RESULTS-ORIENTED. Achievement is important to the professional who seeks excellence. It is the realization of hard-won goals seen to fruition; the reward for labor; the triumph over challenge. I can’t help but think of a mountain climber who has summited Mount Everest. This is the nature of excellence—it demands the best, it is victorious, it leads to results. “Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” John W. Gardner
  • They are ENGAGED in their work. The focus, drive and determination that is required to be excellent, needs to be fueled by a high level of engagement –this is what ignites passion, which sparks creativity, which produces genius. Steve jobs (an excellence seeker extraordinaire!) once said, “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” Quality comes when excellence is demanded.
  • They are DILIGENT. It is the hardworking, meticulous and thorough person who produces work that is above par. Excellence is a habit of consistently practicing these principles in everything one does. It is not just a one-time act –it is behavior that is practiced time and time again. This requires diligence.  “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

I’d love your thoughts. How do you practice excellence?

Related Posts:

Five ways to use your words for good

Dare to be Brilliantly You

3 Ps to Success: Patience Perseverance & Prayer

Be Simply Inspired 

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with new authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.

Contact her at natalie@nataliejobity.com

5 Steps to Leverage your Vulnerability for Victory

woman happy

In order to develop deep, meaningful relationships, we need to expose our real selves, to let people in so that they see our authentic personas. This is what vulnerability is all about. But, let’s face it, how comfortable are we with vulnerability, when many of us perceive it as a weakness? How can we be vulnerable when we don’t trust others will honor our unmasked selves? How can vulnerability coexist with the fear of being judged, disliked, criticized or shamed?

Brene Brown became famous for her research on shame and vulnerability. In a recent article she explained, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think… When we’ve attached our self-worth to what we produce or earn, being real gets dicey.” Her words so resonated with me. In my career as an image consultant, I became so fixated with my brand image, that I began to downplay the naturally authentic traits that revealed the “real” me. Unnoticed by me, I was increasingly becoming a façade of my true self. I assumed if I perfected the part of image consultant, it would seal my success. But I was so wrong. What I could not understand then was that I was distancing myself more and more from true connections with my family, friends, and clients. With all these walls against intimacy up, how could those whose favor I wanted truly relate to me?

In my attempt to win approval, I perfected the art of people pleasing.  I hitched my self-worth onto my performance because that is what I was taught—get good grades, a good job, practice good behavior and I would earn the right to be liked.  The very thing I sought is the very thing I hijacked by my “good girl” image. People may admire the good girl, they may even respect her, but they sure won’t get close to her. Likeability has everything to do with one’s capacity for vulnerability.

What I’ve come to understand is that my flaws, my humanness, my struggles make me a real woman living in today’s very complex, intricately connected world. Striving to be the perfect anything is a recipe for failure, because perfectionism reeks of fakeness, illusion, and inauthenticity—all things that keep us arm’s length away from others. The fear of making mistakes, being criticized, failing, or rejection are the uncertainties we tackle as individuals on a quest to fulfill our life’s work. Facing this vulnerability head on is the only way to move forward. Being vulnerable then helps us to succeed as it allows us to connect with others in a real, meaningful way and to honor ourselves as we truly are, all armor aside.

Supported in this knowledge, these 5 steps continue to help me recover from my tendency to hide the real me:

  1. SHOW up. It takes a LOT of energy to hide. It is far easier to show up, to be in the game and to be present to the glory and the potential risk of disapproval. To be a player in love, work and life.
  2. Be SEEN. Make your presence known, felt and understood. Be visible and stand in your truth. Take the necessary step: write that book, design that masterpiece, launch that innovation. Fuel your passion and creativity. Dream. And dream Big. Just go for it.
  3. SHARE. Your story. Your opinion. Your perspective. Your values. Be generous in opening up about who you really are and what you are about. Sharing also means listening. Be an active listener. It is this give and take that allows real bonds to form.
  4. SHINE. As Marianne Williamson famously said: “It’s our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” Dare to be brilliant! 
  5. SURRENDER…to the outcome. Know that no one can do you better than you. You are the best version of yourself. Be authentic and surrender the rest to God. Be amazingly you, but don’t be attached to the result.

There will always be folks who “lie in wait for the vulnerable and pounce as a way to feel powerful” as author Donald Miller put it in his book Scary Close. Yes, there will always be naysayers and detractors. But we should not let their judgement and criticism crowd out the majority who really are rooting for us, because they recognize that we are all ultimately on a similar journey to realize our excellence in our life’s purpose.

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. 

Visit her blog at: http://nataliejobity.com/be-simply-inspired/

Five Ways to Use the Power of your Words for Good

talking

Lately I have been trying to pay attention to the words I use.  And what I hear myself speak does not always please me.  It’s bad enough that the occasional expletive still slips out of my mouth unawares, but I am actually more concerned about when I speak lack, destruction, failure or negativity of any kind into my life. Our words have power, yet we use them so thoughtlessly. I am as guilty of this as the next person.  I was just at the car dealership, complaining that I can’t afford to fix another problem with my VW Beetle. And the dealer, kept insisting, “Oh you can afford it, you are doing well, you’ve got loads of money”.  Then I began to come in agreement with him. I affirmed, “Yes you are right, I’m doing well”. This was my attempt at injecting positivity into my consciousness rather than lack.

What I’ve learned over time is that we do create our reality with the thoughts we think and the words we speak. If I want a future filled with prosperity, abundance, love, joy, peace, success and harmony, then I have to come into agreement with this vision with the words I use. Isaiah 55:11 underscores this point: “It is the same with my word. I send it out and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” My words produce fruit. If they are life enhancing, my life will bear fruit accordingly.

The words we speak into others’ lives are just as important, especially those closest to us. Are our words to our loved ones enriching or are they destructive? Someone very creative came up with the acronym, T.H.I.N.K. as a guide to ensuring the words we speak to others are edifying.

  1. First, is what you are saying TRUE? Is it true about the situation, person or event? Is it an honest assessment or is it based on fear, ego, jealousy or judgement? Consider the motive behind what you are saying.
  2. Second, consider, is it HELPFUL? So often we can mistake criticism for helpfulness. We think if we point out what the person is doing wrong we are “helping” them. But are we? In most cases, aren’t we simply finding fault to boost our own pride and self-importance? Again, if we examine our motive, we will have the answer.
  3. Third, is what you are saying INSPIRING? Our words have power to build up and tear down. Are your words motivating and encouraging to your loved ones or are they self-esteem breakers? How are you using the power of your word with your child, spouse, sibling or co-worker? Are they being exalted by your praise or condemned by your judgement?
  4. Fourth, are your words NECESSARY? In business, there is the concept of “adding value”, meaning that one’s efforts augment the status quo. If there is no “value add” then the effort is wasted. Don’t waste your words. Use your power for good. You can be constructive without being critical. You can disagree without disapproving. You can correct without being caustic.
  5. Finally, is what you are saying KIND? Kindness is so underrated. Simple acts of kindness make a tangible difference to our environment, and ultimately to the world we live in. We show kindness to others by using words that make them feel good, words that bring a smile to their face, words which make them beam with pride. Our kindness begets more kindness. It self-perpetuates. When in doubt, just say whatever is kind.

Philippians 4:8 gives us further guidance on how we should think in our interactions with others: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Your word is your wand. Use it to uplift, inspire, and enrich others, and to create a beautiful and prosperous life.

Please share how you use your words for good.

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.Contact her at nattyjay5@yahoo.com

Have a Hug

friends-hugging-646x363

I have a confession to make. I’m a hug junkie. As in, I love receiving  hugs!! Really warm, big, heartfelt hugs.  Perhaps some of my most memorable hugging experiences have been the hugs I’ve received from a child. Simply nothing beats the sheer abandon, sincerity, love and joy with which children hug. There is none of the adult awkwardness, the personal space boundaries or potential sexual tension…nothing that limits its expansiveness. It’s a hug in the fullest sense of the word.  And if that doesn’t turn a day around, I don’t know what would.

A good hug to me feels like a micro massage—it hits all the right places at once, makes me feel comforted and validated, and reduces stress. If it’s really good I can’t help but start giggling—it’s as if my body’s  automatic stress reduction naturally promotes that response. For a few minutes I am that much more content. All is well in the world.  I have been hugged today.

Beyond cultures, countries and language, hugs connect us so profoundly to each other. Psychologists say when we hug someone it releases oxytocin, also known as ‘the cuddle hormone.’ That’s what makes us feel warm inside. This is what promotes feelings of devotion, trust and bonding. Research has found that hugs can reduce our stress levels and improve our overall sense of well-being. So why don’t we just hug each other more?

I believe that more hugging would help us nurture the spirit of love, compassion, oneness and  belonging that we all need and want in our lives. The intimate connection of an embrace, the deep connectivity, the natural removal of personal space boundaries, and the fact that so many of our senses are naturally aroused in such close proximity (touch, smell, sound, sight), allows us to bond with each other more. It breaks down walls. It fosters freedom of expression.  It engenders trust.

Hugs convey so much. They express our joy when we greet someone. It’s a way of providing comfort and assurance to a loved one in times of grief or sadness. A hug is the gesture of choice when we want to congratulate someone.  A hug is a way to show camaraderie and kinship to another. A hug is an expression of love: parent to child; sibling to sibling; lover to lover; friend to friend. Hugging conveys a sign of solidarity—to a cause, a mission, a movement. We hug when we say goodbye to someone.

It costs us nothing to hug another. It’s one of those mutually beneficial acts that we can so easily take for granted. The next time you hug someone, really hug them. Feel it on the outside and inside. Linger a second or two longer. Close your eyes. Breathe into the experience.  Let those feel good hormones do their magic.

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. 

Dare to Be Brilliantly You

self esteem drawing

When I was an image consultant, I used to give workshops to teens on image and self-esteem. I called the workshops, “Dare to be Brilliant”, and my intention was to give these young ladies a place to embrace healthy self-esteem ideas. One of the exercises I facilitated was for each of them to name 5 aspects of themselves that they absolutely loved. It could be anything–their finger nails, voice, or smile–the point was to make the girls aware of their positive attributes.

What was so heartwarming for me to observe was how comfortable and affirmed this exercise made them feel almost instantaneously. As each girl stood up to claim her positive attributes (clapping by the group was strongly encouraged), starting off shyly and uncertain at first perhaps, but by the end smiling and looking that much more confident, something substantial would have shifted. Her self–esteem would have soared and solidified that much more deeply within her. The gift in the exercise was daring to name it and claim it!

I share this experience to underscore the importance of healthy self-esteem and the power we each hold to bring it forth. Self-esteem describes a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. It plays a role in every thought we think about ourselves, our sense of identity, in determining the yardstick against which we allow others to treat us, and in our level of success in life.

Dove’s groundbreaking, “The Real Truth About Beauty” campaign, delved into young women’s self-esteem, body image, and body confidence issues and uncovered the difficulty women and girls have in recognizing their real beauty. A startling statistic from the study finds that 6 in 10 girls will stop doing something they love because they feel badly about the way they look. Consider the implications of poor self-esteem on women’s career choices, educational achievement, relationships and lifestyle. Does your behavior foster healthy self-esteem?

As our culture becomes more technologically sophisticated, the rate at which we are bombarded by images which erode and negatively impact our self-esteem increase. How do we self-correct? How do we move the needle in the other direction? How do we stop ourselves from increasingly becoming a perfection striving, visually hungry, socially competitive generation who can never attain the impossibly high standards we set for ourselves? We get back to basics. We re-learn ways to honor and uphold the very best of ourselves as the uniquely individual beings we are. We feed and encourage healthy self-image habits in ourselves and those we mentor.

More than ever in today’s culture, ideas of beauty, success, achievement and creativity are converging around a “one size fits all” paradigm which snuffs the very life out of the individuality we seem to seek. We are more the same yet we are more intolerant of each other’s differences. We wave the flag of freedom and expression but only as long as the status quo remains intact. But we must remember that this very generation is a by-product of individuality and self-expression in full bloom.  The buck can’t stop here. We have to encourage our youth to dare to showcase their uniqueness in spite of the pressures to conform. Every human being has a fundamental need to belong. So to foster inclusiveness, without sacrificing uniqueness, a great measure of patience, humility and tolerance is called for.

In tangible terms what does that mean for you reading this? It means being true to yourself in a more embracive way than you may perhaps have allowed yourself to be in the past: being bold and unapologetically expressive, yet humble; being fearless in sharing your perspective of a given situation; being graciously honest with your feedback; being lovingly encouraging to those under your charge. Nurture your passions. Hone your skills. Be insatiably curious…about everything. Discover your purpose and challenge your beliefs. Unearth your significance to this earth. Trust in your innate excellence. Love from the inside, out. Love your God. Love yourself. Love your brothers and sisters. Isn’t this our ultimate call?

We have really only just begun to tap into the incredible abundance available to us. Our love is a resource we need to be using all the time. It is free, unlimited and cumulative. It starts with our love for ourselves, and our esteem for ourselves as a contributing member of society. Dare to be brilliantly you. Love will do the rest.

A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on its own wings. Always believe in yourself” – Unknown

Image credit: webpsychology.com

 ____

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.

Visit her blog at: http://nataliejobity.com/be-simply-inspired/

 

A Shift in Perspective

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.“  Marcel Proust

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    Image (C) Natalie Jobity

If you’re like me, you may have thought that your way of thinking was the only rational way to view things. After all, most of us have a vested interest in being right, don’t we? We can’t possibly believe that the saying, “walking with blinders on”, applies to us.  But life has a way of bringing us to varying levels of humility, until we are forced to reckon with the reality that there might be a healthier way to view people and events. Haven’t you ever assumed something about someone only to discover that your opinion was totally off base? We attribute so much of what we think to what we can see with our naked eye, and forget that this is just a tiny part of the story—and a really tiny part at that.

So how do we embrace a wider, more positive viewpoint? How do we shift our perspective about people or events in our life? First, it starts with our core beliefs. Do we believe that people are essentially loving and kind or do we think they are out to get us? Do we believe in an abundant universe, knowing that all our good will come to us and everything will work out just fine, or do we approach life with a “crabs in a barrel” mentality, thinking only of our personal gain because we think it all boils down to a survival of the fittest? Do we see the proverbial glass as half full or half empty? “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV) Our core beliefs shape not only our view of the world, but our interactions with others. Believe the best, and life responds accordingly. As we think, so it manifests.

Sometimes our perspective shifts because of a change in our life circumstances. But it is not the circumstances that change us necessarily, but our response to them. Let’s say you lost your job because you were always coming in late. You can respond to that event in at least two ways: you either vow to become a more punctual person because you don’t want to be fired again for tardiness or you can complain and moan about how unlucky you are and choose not to take responsibility for your actions.

In the first scenario, there is a positive shift in perspective and behavior. Being late to work is a problem that has consequences.  You learn to take responsibility, realize you are not immune to adversity and you raise the level of self-awareness with which you operate in life.  In the second scenario, you have indulged in self-pity and have left little room for personal growth; you have shifted responsibility away from yourself and there is zero accountability or shift in awareness.  You can bet that lesson on punctuality will reappear in your life again, until you heed it. Such is the nature of life—if you don’t learn a life lesson, it re-appears in your life more dramatically each time until you get it. Isn’t it so worth it for us to get on with the business of learning and growing from life’s challenges? Amen!

Finally, our shifts in perspective can occur because of our interactions with others. The truth is, we truly are interconnected with every other person we interact with.  Our co-workers, our neighbors, the business people in our community, our family and friends all give and receive “energy” from us.  If we are surrounded by people who are optimistic, energetic, hopeful, honest, forgiving, loving, etc. it can’t help but rub off on us. Our wholesome perspective of the world and the people in it is progressively reinforced. We believe that people are basically good because that is what is mirrored for us. We embrace higher and higher levels of the earth’s benevolence. Unfortunately, the converse is also true.

A shift in perspective takes time, but it is cumulative. If you find yourself trapped in negative thinking or circumstances, examine 1) your core beliefs about people and life, 2) your response to life events, and 3) your interactions with the people around you. I promise you that if you are honest with yourself, you will find new, healthier ways to experience the world around you.

____

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.