Category Archives: empowerment

Legacy: How Effectively are you Stewarding your Gifts and Talents?

 

Being a market researcher for over 15 years helped me develop my curiosity. When you are looking at reams and reams of data, trying to tell a story and arrive at strategic conclusions you can share with your corporate client, you can bet that curiosity becomes a very familiar friend. You learn to slice and dice data in myriad ways to discover trends, to sniff out clues, to develop hypotheses that make sense given the research objectives at hand. Not everyone has this gift. But I did. I loved the storytelling that market research allowed me to indulge in. I got to tap into my creative side when I had to craft compelling and PR worthy headlines to bring the stories from the data to life.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” Seth Godin

It is this same curiosity, creativity and craft I bring to bear when I refine and re-write my own evolving life story. I can see the highs and lows of my life as data points based on all the primary and secondary research that is my life. With my analytical mind, I connect the patterns in the data and see how the different stories weave in and out of each other, sometimes shaping an even more powerful narrative, from which I derive a new meaning.

These tendencies have made me a truth seeker. I am constantly re-framing and re-purposing information to figure out who, what, why and how, behind all the data I process in any given time period. Which brings me to the purpose of this particular post: lately I have been very preoccupied with legacy.  It’s the proverbial, “why am I here?” in all its clichéd, redundant and profound expression. While I am proud of my professional achievements and accomplishments, I’m at a life-stage where I question exactly what it was all about. There was a time, not that long ago, when these successes defined me. Not anymore. Now I am much more concerned with the quality of my life, my personal impact, my legacy. But those things are not exactly quantifiable are they? They don’t lend themselves to data manipulation much at all because often we have no idea who we impact and to what extent. The data is simply not available.

Since my market research acumen is not particularly useful in this line of questioning, I’ve had to rely more on my inner promptings, my insight, my intuition. Increasingly, I see that when I follow a “nudge” (or what I like to call a Holy Spirit whisper), something beautiful always results. I know these experiences are on the path of my purpose because of how they make me feel and what I see open up as a result, which is usually greater and more magnificent than what I could ever have expected.

To give a tiny example of this at work, I have had lunch or met with a few people recently that I just felt really called to get to know better. Every single one of these interactions has literally blown my mind in terms of shared experiences, kindred-spiritedness, and true heart-centered connections. I have no idea the extent of the impact of those meetings on either party, but this is what I do know for sure: there is an impact. I may not ever be able to connect the data and say that X meeting led to Y result. But it matters not. All I know is that something amazing is opening up as result, even if I don’t know exactly what that is right now.

Just this past Friday, as I was having dinner with a friend at Le Madeleine, I found myself in the midst of a quiet, understated legacy building moment. I had left our table for 5 minutes and when I came back I found her deep in conversation with a man at the table in front of us. Even though I was facing them the entire time, I was so engrossed in my conversation with my friend that I hadn’t noticed them. Turns out the man’s son, a 9th grader named Daniel, was a budding artist and had been busy painting at the table the whole time. He had acrylics, small canvasses, brushes, the whole nines. He had only started painting for a month but you could tell he was passionate about it. My friend, being the warm, personable, supportive person she is, spent the next 30 minutes uplifting, encouraging and building him up. She dished out advice, praised his work, asked questions, gave him inspiration  and offered to host him at the next youth event at the church we both attend, so he could get exposure for his artwork.

At first Daniel was shy but by the end of the conversation, he was animated and really excited about getting his art seen and sold by more people. His Dad was visibly moved and kept thanking us both for our kindness. Yes, I had been chiming in with praise and support, but truly I was the observer in this exchange, as I witnessed the power of just loving on people right where we are– in this case in the middle of dinner—and letting God just work his miracles.  Who knows, what if Daniel is the next Kieron Williamson  and our praise and encouragement was just what he needed to be motivated to keep going with his newfound talent? My friend will likely never see the fruit of her goodwill, but without a doubt she impacted that young man’s life by using her gift of generous praise to encourage someone she just met. To quote author Judy Blume, “Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” This is what legacy building is truly about!

We so often get narrow-minded about what it means to leave a legacy. For many people continuing a family name and heritage is the first thought. Then we think of tangible things like wealth, property, status, or accomplishment that we can bequeath to our family. These things ultimately center on achievement and they’re fine, really, but are they all? I believe, life coach and motivational speaker Rasheed Ogunlaru’s   definition of legacy is spot on, “Legacy is not what is left tomorrow when you are gone. It’s what you give, create, impact and contribute today while you are here, that then happens to live on.”

It is my belief that creating a legacy is about using our gifts and talents to bless others. This broadens the definition of legacy making, to include truly anything we create or give to others.   This is what has eternal significance after all for it is written that, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” 1 Peter 4:10 NLT In this service to others we need to engage with them, just as my friend engaged Daniel. To be engaged requires sincere curiosity. In my evolution as a successful market researcher, I had to learn the art of crafting questions in such a way  that the answers elicited from the survey respondents gave me meaningful data I could use to shape a narrative that addressed my client’s goals. Asking the right questions in the right way, made all the difference in informing what recommendations I presented to my clients.  From experience, I know the same principles apply in relationship with others. My curiosity, compassion and level of engagement shape my dialog with others in ways that engender legacy building or not. It’s the difference between asking, “How are you?” versus “What did you get accomplished today?” or “What are you looking forward to today?” Our questions can open us up to learning, connection and discovery of others or they can shut them down.

We leave a legacy right where we are, with the people we interact with in the course of our daily professional and personal lives. We may never know the impact our lives truly have on others.  This is why it is important for us to treat everyone– regardless of rank, position, or wealth– with respect, integrity, and value. Commending, elevating, empowering, or endorsing others is how we pay it forward, how we sow seeds of significance  into others’ lives. And by so doing, we receive blessings tenfold, even though they cannot be quantified. For the Apostle Paul promised that: “he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap generously [and be blessed].” 2 Corinthians 9:6 AMP

My achievements have served me well and opened many doors for me. I am grateful for all my successes thus far. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll soon come to find that your greatest joys come from using your strengths in service of those in your sphere and knowing that you are leaving a legacy far greater than anything you could have imagined.


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, branding coach, marketing consultant and freelance writer. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide :Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Read more of her inspirational posts on her website. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.

Humility: The Hallmark of Great Leadership

 

I recently responded to an article on LinkedIn where the writer set out to prove why being humble is a bad thing. He basically asserted that humility fosters blending in, not speaking up for oneself, and letting others (who are braggarts) get ahead because you don’t toot your own horn. I appreciated the perspective and subject matter but disagreed, so I was inspired to write my own post on this topic. Having had a feast eating “humble pie” in the past few years, I have a newfound respect for humility and what it stands for.

I can think of quite a few leaders from the past and present who I consider to be successful, stellar, one of a kind, movers and shakers by any account, who are also humble. From my perspective, humility has nothing to do with letting others run circles around you. Looking at the root of the word, humility comes from the word hummus, meaning the earth or the ground. Humility then has as its essence, groundedness, steadfastness, and standing firm on one’s beliefs and values. A humble person does not compare themselves with others as they know that they are no better or worse off than anyone else. Being humble means having a realistic sense of one’s position with God and to other people. Humility levels the playing field. It embodies the traits of honesty, authenticity, trust, acceptance, unity, kindness, expansiveness and generosity.

I believe very strongly in personal branding and one of its tenets is the principle that we all have gifts that we are uniquely qualified to offer to the world, based on our experiences, talents, beliefs, values, personality, etc. As Marianne Williamson says in her famous quote from her book Return to Love‘, “We are all meant to shine…we are all born to make manifest the glory of God within us”. If you believe this, then you cannot believe in the scarcity model that suggests that only some of us get to be successful, brilliant, or stellar. The author of the article that inspired this post, shares stats on the number of people in the world, on social media and possessing college degrees in the US to offer a view that there is just too much competition for brilliance. Therefore, the only way for a person to succeed, to carve out a special niche or platform for themselves is by taking full advantage of their bragging rights. If they don’t do it, someone just as qualified will take their place as “nature abhors a vacuum”. I respectfully disagree.

You have unique gifts to manifest to the world—God given gifts. Humility is graciously receiving these gifts and sharing them with others to bless them and glorify God. You don’t need to scramble like a crab in a barrel to get others to notice you. If your light is shining truly, others will see it and you will influence those in your sphere. Though the greedy and the proud will have you think otherwise, your light, your unique brilliance, is unstoppable. Because it is your stamp, the efficacy of your personal brand. It is the core of who you are as a leader.

When I think of stellar leaders in my lifetime, who possess humility at their core, the icons that come readily to mind are Princess Diana, The Dalai Lama, Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.

princess di quote

Princess Diana was the poster child of gracious humility. A princess, beloved by the world, as beautiful on the outside as the inside, who with heart and humanity used her influence to help the needy, the marginalized and the outcast. Her many charitable endeavors are well documented. Watching her being interviewed on TV, what you observe is not a woman full of herself and her accomplishments, but one who even in her gentleness and meekness, demonstrates her commitment and passion for her causes with grace, dignity and humility. In every single year since the anniversary of her death 20 years ago this year, she is celebrated and mourned all over the world. Why? Because she let her actions speak for themselves. She let her true light shine on its own merit, and we all witnessed her authenticity and the fruit of her passions.

Dalai-Lama-Quotes-on-Change

The Dalai Lama is a study in tranquility, presence, open-hearted service and humility. Whenever he has a speaking engagement, anywhere in the world, people of all faiths throng to hear him. Why? Could it be because there is an allure there, an attraction which has nothing to do with wealth, perceived success, prestige or status? Could that attraction be the very humility and self-sacrifice so many of us shy away from? We are captivated by the Dalai Lama in some part because what he stands for runs so counter to the values we hold dear in this society. Simplicity, non-attachment, non-judgement are characteristics so foreign to the average person that a persona like the Dalai Lama stands out distinctly from the pack.

obama quote

You may not agree with Barack Obama’s politics while he was President, but you have to admit he possessed a calm, dignified and resolute presence which for a U.S. President, was refreshing to many Americans. He came into his Presidency ringing the bells of change, hopefulness (“yes we can”), unity, and inclusiveness. After 8 years in the Whitehouse, he left sans scandal and controversy with his morals and values intact. I see so much humility in President Obama. He had a lot to brag about as the first African-American President in US history, one of the youngest elected Presidents in recent memory, and as a President who in spite of a Republican controlled Congress, got Obamacare and other major legislation enacted in his tenure. Yet what will go down in history is not a President that tooted his own horn, but one that listened, extended grace to allies and foes, and who tried to act fairly in his dealings, all why staying true to the man he was. Authenticity, poise, equanimity and kindness are some of his hallmarks—all key aspects of humility.

 

quotes-from-martin-luther-king-jr

Martin Luther King Jr’s whole platform centered around non-violence and using the power of love to conquer hate. He rallied for justice and equality for African-Americans and advocated for peace and unity instead of resistance. What a concept! It was hardly revolutionary, but it seemed crazy against the backdrop of the violent and contentious civil rights movement in the 1960’s. His opponents mocked him for what they deemed as weakness. He didn’t go around thumping his chest trying to be noticed. Yet he built a movement so pivotal that it impacted the course of U.S. history. He advocated unrelentingly for civil rights in the face of fierce opposition and used his platform to “keep hope alive” when it seemed that equal rights for all citizens was just a fantasy. His beliefs eventually led to his assassination at the age of 39. Martin Luther King Jr’s was a visionary. He was courageous. And he was humble.

MLK’s story reminds me of a famous Jew that preceded him centuries earlier. Jesus of Nazareth spoke The Truth, knowing it would lead to his death. He confronted his accusers boldly and publicly shamed the Jewish leaders of his time for their hypocrisy. He was the God/man come to the earth in the most humbling of circumstances (born in a horse’s trough in a stable) and lived without wealth or earthly pedigree. He didn’t brag about himself but he did brag about his father, the God of the Universe. Jesus spoke favorably of the meek and the humble, and went so far as to say they would “inherit the earth”. The character trait of humility was one Jesus endorsed, exemplified, and encouraged. According to Proverbs 3:34, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

As a Christian, who has a newfound respect for humility, a recurring prayer of mine is to learn to embrace humility and to know that in my humility I gain so much more strength to do the will of God. In my humility, I am transformed more into the likeness of Jesus. Hallelujah!

You don’t have to be a braggart, prideful, arrogant or self-seeking to get noticed for what only you can do best. You— with your unique talents, experiences, personality, values, strengths and bravado— are needed. Your niche is already carved out waiting for you to show up and manifest your brilliance. They are waiting on you to shine.


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, branding coach, marketing consultant and freelance writer. 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 Elanimage07@gmail.com.

Are You Being Inspired to be Creative?

I believe that inspiration drives innovation and innovation drives invention. In other words, we cannot create anything new, (an idea, a recipe, a product, a work of art, a platform, a movement, etc.) without first being inspired by our environment. Which begs the question; “What (and who) are you surrounding yourself with?”

hibiscus

Photo Credit: Natalie Jobity

Our environment influences us in profound ways, usually at the subconscious level. It is the source of our creativity, drive and perspective. We may not have much control over our family environment, our workplace setting, or the community in which we live, but we do have a lot of control over what we read, watch, listen to and eat and how we choose to spend our non-working hours. Are you inspired after spending hours on social media or are you just “killing time”? Are you inspired after engaging in a gossipy conversation or are you left feeling as if something was taken away from you (perhaps your precious time?). Are you inspired after watching bad reality TV or do you find yourself wanting to pick a fight with your spouse/mate/child/sibling after so indulging? Is your environment feeding your spirit or leaving you wanting more?

Human beings have an innate call to create. It is that calling that keeps us motivated to excel and be the best we can be in our lives. We want to make an impact. We want to contribute to our communities. We want to leave a legacy. But we have to feed and nurture that calling within us. We have to surround ourselves with people, places and things that are conducive to our thriving. We have to be inspired.

So what inspires you? What fills you up so completely that you have no choice but to pour the blessing out to others? What really motivates you to create? For me, inspiration comes from many sources: reflecting on the majestic placidity of the lake where I go for my walks; reading a book that gives me a new perspective on life; marveling at the stunning awesomeness of the daily blossoms on my hibiscus plant; watching one of my favorite dance competitions, ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, and feeling awe for the gift in these young dancers; knowing that I have positively impacted someone else using my skills, expertise and talents; seeing others perform at their highest levels of excellence. When I am inspired, I instinctively, automatically feel the urge to be an inspiration to others.

It’s simple. The more we are inspired, the more we inspire others to be in their brilliance. We are each so gifted. Let us continue to bless others with our unique gifts.

What are some of the things that inspire you? Please share them in the comments.

© Natalie Jobity