Category Archives: Inspiration

The Imperative & Paradox of Racial Reconciliation

 

Over the past eight months I have been a part of a pilot racial reconciliation women’s group at my local church, called ‘Be The Bridge’. It has been a pivotal experience for me personally and interpersonally, forcing me to engage in tough conversations around race and identity with myself, my teammates and my wider circle of friends and family. So I find myself, a black, Christian, American woman of Caribbean descent, trying to grapple with racial reconciliation in my church community and the country at large.

Lately I have been feeling overwhelmed and more hopeless than ever given the political and cultural context in which we exist today. In just this past year alone things have gotten so much worse, racially speaking. In the eight months our group has gathered, we have witnessed the Neo-Nazi/white supremacist protests in Charlottesville which put the undercurrent racial hostility in the country front and center.  The country is still reeling from those events and what has followed. The ongoing controversy around NFL players taking a knee in protest of black oppression has reached the upper echelons of the White House. Racial tensions are at an all-time high in America. Devastating proof of the horrors of hatred surround us. This is a time of reckoning in the United States if there ever was one.

Not coincidentally, this past week I started reading the book, ‘Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone’, by renowned social scientist and author Brené Brown. The book is essentially the culmination of her research on “true belonging”. Americans are scared, she writes, and to offset our fear we have collectively hunkered around our “ideological bunkers”, sorting ourselves into more homogeneous groups so that we live, work and play with people who look, think and act like we do. Yet instead of these “bunkers” drawing us closer together, we are moving further apart. Ironically all this sorting has us more disconnected than ever and yearning for true belonging.

In the book, Brown offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other. But she does not hesitate to underscore the challenge America faces. In this country, she writes, “our three greatest fault lines, cracks that have grown and deepened due to willful neglect and a collective lack of courage are race, gender and class. The fear and uncertainty flowing from collective trauma of all kinds have exposed these gaping wounds in a way that has been both profoundly polarizing and necessary. These are conversations that need to happen. This is discomfort that must be felt. Still as much as it is time to confront these and other issues, we have to acknowledge that our lack of tolerance for vulnerable tough conversations is driving our self-sorting and disconnection.”

Race, gender, class—America’s fault lines. When I read those words this week as I was crafting this post on racial reconciliation, I had to pause. Here I am writing about racial reconciliation in a month where the fault line that has cracked open wide is the one around gender. I cannot write about racial reconciliation in this season of America, without acknowledging what is happening in this country in the wake of the allegations of sexual assault of hundreds of women at the hands of powerful men in entertainment, politics and business. It is simply staggering.

Sexism versus Racism

I’m encouraged by the hundreds of brave women coming out with their #metoo stories, each one subsequently fortifying the other, because this too is a state of affairs that has long since needed reckoning in this country. I’m hopeful as I see man after man being stripped of his title, status and privilege for his gross misconduct against women because justice, however imperfect, is finally being served. And with the truth out these women who have been trapped by their stories can find true freedom. The dark secret of sexual harassment and assault in America’s workplaces is out and as a country thank God, we will never be the same. The balance of power has shifted and women are finally reclaiming their collective voice and standing united and courageous against sexism.

The movement is so powerful that Time magazine Editor-in-Chief, Edward Felsenthal dubbed it “the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s”. To champion how ground breaking this movement has been, Time chose these very brave women, “The Silence Breakers” as the much anticipated Time Person of the Year for 2017. But Felsenthal acknowledges that we are just in the “middle of the beginning of this upheaval. There is so much that we still don’t know about its ultimate impact. How far-reaching will it be? How deep into the country? How far down the organizational chart?” We don’t know. Time will tell.

Sexism affects all women. There are no grey areas, no blurred lines. One is either male or female, and as females we have been subjected to sexism all our lives. We learn to orient ourselves as women in a male-centric world at an early age, being mindful that how we dress, comb our hair, walk, talk or behave can lead men to see us as prey. This is such an integral aspect of being female that most of us, myself included, aren’t even aware of the many ways we have contorted ourselves so we won’t be the victims of unwanted sexual advances. Unfortunately as recent allegations demonstrate, even taking these precautions don’t necessarily grant us immunity from attack.

But here is where I’m going with this. There has been a certain confluence of events that has led to the fallout from sexism in the workplace. Was it the close but no cigar almost Presidency of Hillary Clinton, the first woman to have almost succeeded? Was it Trump becoming President even after allegations of his own sexual misconduct had been publicized last year? Was it the Women’s March in January that united and emboldened women to start sharing their stories? We may never know what led to this domino effect that has given women the courage to stand up and speak out against sexual harassment. But it is happening. And it is changing the landscape of this country as we speak.

So I wonder then what sequence of events would need to happen to see real, substantive change along racial lines in this country? Race–that infinitely much more complicated and emotionally charged demographic characteristic than gender—which impacts an important sub-segment of the U.S. population, some who happen to be women too. What would that take? Can we hope to really see racial reconciliation in America? Can I look to what is happening now with the galvanizing movement against sexism, witnessing those chickens come home to roost, and hold onto hope for racial reconciliation?

This country needs to reconcile itself to centuries of racial oppression against blacks.  Consider the challenge. It is daunting. But we must be fearless in wanting the light of truth to shine too on the nasty, grimy, filthy crevices of racial hatred. But I believe it will be much more difficult than what has occurred this year to begin to end the cycle of female oppression.

A Personal Confession

In my own racial reconciliation small group, I often had to lean heavily on our good intentions and the covering of our church in engaging in these hard conversations around race, knowing we were building bridges of racial unity in our church by our efforts. That didn’t make it easier, just more intentional. I felt anger, hurt and guilt repeatedly as I allowed myself to listen to other women’s experiences and views that sometimes offended me or were in conflict with my own.

I listened with a heavy heart as women shared their painful stories of racial discrimination or how they may have hurt others because of their white privilege. And I shared my own experiences, which as a black woman born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago are so very different from my African-American sisters. My blackness did not much inform my identity growing up as I lived on an island where people of color are the dominant culture. By the time I got to the United States to study at Rutgers University, I did not have that particular monkey on my back. I knew racism was alive and well here but I did not take it personally. And my experiences in college, Corporate America, in my own business and in my social circles, where I was often the solo black person among a sea of white people, oddly enough validated that way of thinking for me. I felt “free” to be me. I see things differently now.

Acknowledging this reality was difficult for me. And part of my personal journey during this process, was owning that as an American with black skin, I too am an object of hate and revulsion amongst racists in this country. I am not exempt, different, set apart or in any way spared just because I had a different socializing. My Caribbean heritage could no longer be a mask I could hide behind. With this understanding arose a righteous anger within me that scared me for a while. And if I’m being honest, at that low point, I just wanted out. I didn’t want to know, see or feel the things that were being stirred up within me, seeing myself, the way many white Americans see me with my blackness speaking for me before anything else about me. It pained and offended me. But this is the reality of racial toxicity. This is the struggle and I have no illusions about which side of the battlefield I’m on.

Racial Reconciliation is a Marathon Not a Sprint: A Quick History Lesson

In our groups at church each of the 32 women who participated in the pilot racial reconciliation program did so voluntarily, focusing mostly on our relationships with the increasingly ethnically diverse women of our church, with the hope that our efforts would slowly spread throughout our church at large. We’re at a juncture where we are hoping to double the groups from 4 to prayerfully 8, as wrap up the pilot groups, with the understanding that we are still figuring this all out as we go along. It continues to be an illuminating yet uncomfortable learning experience. But we are committed to doing the work.

With this awareness I’ve really been struggling with what racial reconciliation looks like at the national level. Getting to racial reconciliation as a nation seems virtually impossible to me. How can centuries old hurts, wounds and the systemic oppression of a race of people be healed?  Since there is no precedent for racial harmony in America, what are we even reconciling to? These valid concerns can stop the attempt and intent to reconcile dead in its tracks. There are no easy answers. I would offer that meaningful racial reconciliation in this country is not likely in my lifetime, given its history.

Let’s look at America’s track record. The 13th Amendment was passed in America in 1865 abolishing slavery….except as a punishment for crime. In 2014, the U.S. at only 5% of the world’s population had 25% of its citizens behind bars. This is roughly over 2 million people.  Of these roughly 2 million people behind bars, 40% are African-American men. Let that sink in for a moment.

So 152 years after abolition, “slavery” exists today for people of color in this country. As the decades have rolled on by, the dominant culture continues to find creative ways to enslave its black citizens, starting with the aforementioned 13th Amendment. Thereafter, this country enforced Jim Crow Law—the caste system that essentially relegated black people to second class citizenship– from Reconstruction in 1877 well into the 1950’s. Then the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s spearheaded by Martin Luther King Jr. and others who helped get the landmark Civil Rights Act passed in 1964 (outlawing discrimination based on race or color) followed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which removed barriers to voting among African-Americans, made it seem like racial equality could be a dream fulfilled in America.

But it would be a dream deferred as the 1980’s and 1990’s witnessed the continued subjugation of black people. With the media dehumanizing and painting black men as criminals to be feared, these decades ushered in the “War on Drugs” in urban communities and the system of mass incarceration of black men to the prison institution. In the past couple years, African-Americans seeking justice have rallied around Black Lives Matter–an activist movement that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards African-Americans. Black Lives Matter has highlighted the scores of (mostly) unarmed young black men across the country who have been killed at the hands of (mostly) white police officers, while the officers go unpunished.

2017 will go down as the year white supremacists rallied in broad daylight in Charlottesville resulting in clashes killing one. Racial tensions in this country are worsening. For a moment, I wonder too with Edward Rosenthal of Time what it would have been like in the 60s if Rosa Parks had a Twitter account, like the countless women who used the social media platform to share their stories of sexual assault and discrimination? Would the civil rights movement have progressed more? But after a moment, I shake my head to myself. No. I don’t think we’d be much further along. Because racism is way more complicated than sexism and harkens back to the root of how this country was founded.

America’s Bleeding Heart

Michelle Higgins, worship leader and a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement wrote a no holds barred article on racial reconciliation this summer titled, ‘The Idea of Racial Reconciliation is Bankrupt‘,  essentially claiming that the term itself is bankrupt. She asserts that before the nation can even think of reconciliation that it needs to be repenting of its past atrocities, “I grieve the arrogance and presumption of “racial reconciliation” work among the diverse peoples of the United States. I believe that the terminology of racial reconciliation is bankrupt. When, in the history of this country, have racial relationships been conciliatory? We need racial righteousness, racial repentance. In this country and many others, we have worked harder to hide the truth about our history than we have to amplify the stories of people who’ve been wounded by historical lies.” For many black people, the day to day reality of being American is living in a country where we are not truly free. Where our very identities are shaped by what the dominant culture deems relevant, promotable or shameful. Where wearing a hoodie in the dark is immediately seen as predatory and where we ourselves buy into the negative stereotypes by often resigning ourselves to them. Because it gets so wearying having to prove that you bleed the same as your white brother. Every. Single. Day.

Since slavery first reared its monstrous head in America in the 1600’s (depending on the text book you read), there has never been a period of racial reconciliation between blacks and whites in this country. Ever. And the wounds inflicted on black men and women from the ravages of slavery are at the center of this country’s heartbeat. They are generational, endemic and propagating. They have never healed. And like any unhealed bodily wound that has been left untreated, the wounds wreaked from racial inequality and oppression have festered and infected the body collective of this country.  Whites, blacks, browns…all are infected and affected. This racial hostility in America will be all of our demise, if we don’t work through the reconciliation process in a meaningful way together.

In ‘Braving The Wilderness’, Brown offers hope. She has faith that we can build connection across our differences if we are willing to listen and “lean into vulnerability.  She adds, and “mercifully, it will only take a critical mass of people who believe in finding love and connection across differences to change everything.”

I believe this critical mass of people gathering together and having these difficult, painful conversations around race has to start in our church communities. Starting in groups like the Be The Bridge group I have participated in at my church over these past eight months.

 Racial reconciliation: The Paradox and the Imperative

There is no question that racial reconciliation is needed for us to move forward and thrive as a country. But this is the racial reconciliation paradox as I see it: this country needs racial reconciliation but we may never experience it in our lifetime. In over 400 years we are not even close. Yet we must strive for it. Hope for it. Dream for it. Pray for it. We do not have an alternative. We must press on towards that goal, step by step, individual by individual. If not for our generation, prayerfully for the next?

Here is the other paradox. Racial reconciliation cannot happen by our own good intentions or intent. “For everyone has sinned; we ALL fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Rom 3:24. Emphasis mine).  If we as a country could have healed on our own might we would be much further along on the reconciliation continuum. Many noble men and women have tried. So what do we do? Instead of hopelessness, we need to lean heavily, entirely, on the cross to move towards the racial unity I believe most Americans truly desire. In short, engaging in conversations and building relationships with others of diverse ethnicities in ways that are healthy and that promote peace requires a supernatural covering which can only come from the creator of the Universe.

In Christ who has already victoriously reconciled the world to himself, we can see an end to racial hostility in this land. In an article written in October titled, ‘Should we abandon the language of racial reconciliation?’ Duke Kwon, pastor of Grace Meridian Hill in Washington DC asserts, “The biblical-historical reference point for ‘reconciliation’ isn’t the birth of our nation but the birth of the human race in Adam. . . . When used in the church, ‘reconciliation’ harkens back to our creational unity, not a national or ecclesiastical unity.”  I agree and believe that racial reconciliation needs to be under the covering of an authority greater than our collective selves as a country, and this authority is Christ.

One of the greatest stories of reconciliation between two hostile groups of people is what Paul describes between Jews and Gentiles in the New Testament. “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. 17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.” Eph 2:14-18

Praise God! I have to hold onto the confident hope in this: If Jews and Gentiles could come together to share the gospel, and build the early church under the Lordship of Christ, I hold onto hope that one day the walls of the racial divide in America will come crashing down as we unite together in love and truth. This is not pie in the sky. This is biblically sound truth. And this is true for people of all skin tones, nationalities and ethnicities, not just in America but globally.

Michelle Higgins argues in her article that the social justice work required for racial parity is founded on following Jesus’ example, depending on His Gospel, to continue His social justice work here in our world today. In his article, ‘The Burden and Promise of Racial Reconciliation’, Mark Gali editor of ‘Christianity Today’ went a step further and put it this way: “Our vision, then, is bigger and bolder than social justice. And we pray and work not simply for reconciliation of blacks and whites, but of both, and all, to Jesus Christ.”  In our own strength, in our lifetime, perhaps racial reconciliation may seem illusive. But in God’s hands all things are possible.

Christ must be in our midst as we continue the long arduous work of racial reconciliation. He is our guiding light, our way maker and mountain mover. He is the authority we must cling to as we take each step and attempt to bridge the racial chasm in this country.

As Christians we are commanded to live in peace with each other: “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 NLT. As members of the body of Christ, we are called to be disciple makers, to love one another, to make allowances for each other’s faults, to extend grace, to be ambassadors and reconcilers for Christ so he can reconcile us ALL to himself. This is the imperative of racial reconciliation. This is our imperative. This is the Christian imperative. This is my imperative.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.

As I have been crating this article over the course of two weeks (yes that long!), God has been guiding my heart and thoughts. In the sermon at my church just this past weekend, the pastor shared a point in a different context that is so relevant for racial reconciliation. He was speaking on 1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” I interpret this verse in a racial reconciliation context as meaning we will never achieve perfection on this side of heaven. But we have to still press on knowing that our vision will be imperfectly executed, knowing that it is limited. If the majority of Americans desire peace and unity in our land, work towards it, strive for it, however imperfectly, we will be closer to the ideal we can envision in our minds’ eyes which may yet seem so unattainable. But we stand firm because even though we can only see dimly now, all will become clear when Christ returns. Then Light will permanently extinguish darkness once and for all for eternity. Hostility, division, hatred, racism, sexism, classism, discord and dehumanization will cease. And peace will reign.

I cling to hope in our future progress as a country on this journey to racial reconciliation. I stand firm in my faith in the Truth of God’s ministry of reconciliation for all Christians. I am encouraged by the personal growth I have experienced as a result of my participation in the bridge building reconciliation work in my church. And I trust in the love of God to heal all wounds. Racial reconciliation is guaranteed in Christ. But in this broken world, we have to let God fight this battle for us with our cooperation, just like he did for the Israelites– once they trusted him to get them to the Promised Land.


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, insight coach, and marketing & branding consultant. 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.

Are you confident your legacy will count?

 

When I gave presentations on professional presence as an image consultant, I often referenced  research conducted by sociolinguist Albert Mehrabian, who found that 55% of our first impressions are based on how a person looks, 38% is based on how they communicate and just 7% is based on what they actually say. This was my “aha’ slide, the slide that made everything else in my presentation on image and professionalism relevant. The “just 7%” was justification for focusing on the visuals over the verbal.

But even back then, I always had tremendous respect for the veracity of voice, the power of the pen, and how our words wield our truth.  Way before I became interested in style and image, I was a truth seeker. I believe we all are to some extent. What I believe is true, is what I value. What I value is what I focus on. What I focus on is what I speak into existence. What I speak into existence by a tweet, talk, or post, is my voice—it is my opinion, expression, or the truth as I see it. My voice leaves an indelible print of my time here on earth.

Mahatma Gandhi advocated for unabashedly speaking ones truth when he said, “Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.”  Your truth is reflected in your voice. In this era of social media communications, your voice leaves a lasting legacy of your thoughts, beliefs, priorities and perspectives. So, what type of legacy are you leaving with your voice?

This is no inconsequential matter. Our current President uses his voice in a very public platform to express his mostly personal views. Every tweet he sends, whether you agree with his opinions or not, communicate so much about his character. He may say one thing using a teleprompter, but I believe the real man can be discovered in the one place where he can express himself unfiltered, where his voice is truly his own. Like him or not, on Twitter, you get the real deal.

Our words have tremendous power, and to cast them around carelessly is foolish, especially in a medium where they can be shared, copied and attributed to you till kingdom come.

In the past three months, we have witnessed unprecedented tragedy in the world, from natural disasters and sadly, just this week in Las Vegas, from human hands. Every day we seem perched on the brink of war between North Korea and the US with tensions mounting between these two world leaders. In times like these just how do we use our voice?

When disaster strikes, like it has around the world lately, I find my voice escapes me. As a writer and truth seeker, I feel so trapped by all the many words in me fighting for air time, that none wins. And instead, just silence. Words of comfort seem insufficient. I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling. But I have to fight to find my voice and speak up for my truth, within the context of all the events happening around me. Scripture speaks often of using our words to uplift and encourage each other.  For example, First Thessalonians 5:11 says: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” It is this belief that motivated me to write an inspirational post on cultivating resilience,  two weeks ago.

Just consider the greatest leaders, orators and champions in our modern world –John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Theodore Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi–whose words continue to surface decades after they have passed on. Their words leave a lasting legacy unfettered by time and often context. Their voices offer hope, guidance, encouragement, purpose and motivation. But moreover, their words were in sync with their characters, deeply enmeshed with their value systems. JFK said it best when he wrote: As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

It is interesting to me that after the horrific massacre in Las Vegas this week, in the President’s address to the nation,  he referenced scripture and God multiple times to comfort, console and speak up for unity in the United States. He referenced Psalm 34:18 when he said, “Scripture teaches us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. We seek comfort in those words, for we know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve.” He ends his speech with these words: “May God bless the souls of the lives that are lost, may God give us the grace of healing, and may God provide the grieving families with strength to carry on.” I applaud him for taking himself out of the equation, following his script and calling on the wisdom of a higher power to try to find words to comfort us. But if I’m honest, his words did not ring true for me. I do not see this President as a religious man in word, action or deed. The words he read are not words he lives by.

Here is an important point about our voice: it has to be authentic. It has to reflect who we are and what we value. Otherwise it can seem hollow, stiff or rehearsed, as the President looked and sounded during his speech on October 2nd. As a reporter for the Atlantic said of his speech, he “would have done better to say a few things that sound real than a great many that sound false.”  Time and time again we witness this President using his voice in a divisive, critical, aggrandizing and equivocating way. He vacillates so much that it is difficult to trust anything he says. How sad. How unfortunate that the voice for this great nation may be failing its people.

I admire the account of King Edward VI’s journey to finding his voice in the movie, “The King’s Speech”.  Here was a leader who struggled with a debilitating stammer, who fought to find a way to communicate to his people with confidence, command and clarity, at a critical juncture in history. The heart of the movie is the unbreakable bond that develops between the aspiring King and his speech therapist, Logue. We see how much is at stake. The only way to communicate in real time with the public in those days was via live radio where voice reigns supreme. The climax of the movie is the new King delivering his first wartime radio broadcast where he announced Britain’s declaration of war on Germany in 1939, without a hitch. The king’s speech inspired the country and united them in battle while giving the new monarch the confidence he needed to be King. What a legacy!

Most of us will never be a king or a president of a country, but we all have a platform for our voice when we communicate. On social media we have virtual followers and online friends. Some of us are influencers. We may be leaders in business or our community. We may pontificate from a pulpit or coach in a classroom. It matters not. But make no mistake, your words leave a lasting legacy within your sphere of influence and this should give you pause before you speak, tweet, post or share.  Your words can uplift, edify, elevate or enlighten. Or they can dis-empower, tear down, vilify and condemn.  Your words can spread joy or pain, love or hate.

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Theodore Roosevelt’s quote about the “man in the arena”  is now even more famous because it is where researcher turned author and influencer, Brene Brown, derived the title of her bestselling book, “Daring Greatly”.  This is the power of voice! Truth begets even more truth and from Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy we have a book that leaves a legacy that urges us all to let go of our facades and show our vulnerabilities because therein lies our strength and courage. We need that message more than ever today.

In these precarious times, will you join me in committing to getting in the arena, letting our voices be heard, living authentically from our truth, using our words for good,  so hopefully, prayerfully, we can leave a legacy worthy of our time spent on earth? We’ve sure got our work cut out for us!


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.

Finding a way: Cultivating resilience when facing life’s storms

 

Building resiliencethat ability to ‘bounce back’  after adversity, trauma, tragedy, change, or failure —has become a critical component to living a long, healthy, and productive life. In the past few weeks, the ravages from Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and most recently, Hurricane Maria, in the US and the Caribbean have been televised and we, the un-impacted, sit back in awe, disbelief and gratitude. We are grateful that (for now), we are safe and our possessions intact, even as our hearts overflow with compassion for the millions who have to rebuild their lives, their cities, their economies, or their countries. I find myself thinking that it could easily have been me and wondering if I have what it takes to start all over, if I had to. How does one cultivate that type of resilience?

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Numerous studies  have shown that children need to be taught how to be resilient at a very young age so that they can develop into thriving, well-adapted individuals. None of us chooses to go through trial and hardship. But life happens, and we either get knocked down and stay there or get back up. When the going gets tough the tough get going, right? According to Pastor Rick Warren in his recent study series, Daring Faith, “Nobody goes through life with an unbroken chain of successes. Everybody has failures and mistakes. We all embarrass ourselves. We all have pain. We all have problems. We all have pressures. The people who make it in life have resilience.” I immediately think of Diana Nyad.

I have only recently heard about Diana. She is the long distance swimmer who set the record for swimming from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage back in 2013 when she was 64. She swam nearly 53 continuous hours in the ocean, surviving  the treacherous waters of the Florida Straits, a notorious stretch of water teeming with sharks, jellyfish, storms and an unpredictable Gulf Stream. The magnitude of her achievement is undeniable. But what really got my attention when I heard this story, was that this was her FIFTH attempt at setting this record. She first tried when she was 28 years old back in 1979! On her 4th attempt, she almost died from Jellyfish venom. At 64 years old she finally accomplished her life-long dream, when many of us are thinking about retirement. What made Ms Nyad so tenacious, so persevering, so resilient to failure, to adversity, to misfortune?

diana nyad ted talk

I was so intrigued, I listened to a couple of her Ted Talks (she is now an author and motivational speaker) and they are truly inspiring. Four things stood out to me related to cultivating resilience. 1) She learned from her mistakes. After each failed attempt, she improvised, learning what to adjust, which expert to consult and what new protective protocol to implement. 2) She kept herself motivated and positive. To keep herself focused and upbeat during the dark lonely hours of her swim, she sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” over and over and over again. She jokingly admits to “having a playlist of songs” at the ready to sing in her head. 3) She had a single-minded goal to set this record and she believed her dream was achievable. Her motto as she trained for the feat was “find a way”. She saw her dream coming to fruition in her mind’s eye. As she swam, she thought only of reaching the Florida horizon, that was her fulcrum, her grounding point. She did not agonize over how many hours she had left or what could go wrong. She sung and she swam. 4) She did not go it alone. She frankly shares about her ‘ride or die’ friend Bonnie who was right there in the boat alongside her, encouraging and supporting her, along with a team of experts who were there for her protection and safety. She acknowledges that even though she was the one swimming, it would have been impossible without her team.

Diana Nyad’s feat makes it crystal clear to me that resilience is about not giving up, no matter what. We will all fail at something. Life will throw us curveballs. Tragedy or illness may come upon us or our loved ones. We may lose our cherished job. We may be forced to contend with a natural disaster. We may have to endure with terror a Category 5 hurricane huddled up in an attic or shelter praying for our lives, and survive, yes, but without the material possessions we once held dear: damaged car, destroyed house, no building standing for miles, our town or island flooded, washed up, practically swept away! So we are forced to begin again, to face the clearing, the rebuilding, the starting over, one step, one piece of debris, one day at a time. So daunting isn’t it?

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How do you stay resilient, after a “storm”?  You find a way. You consider:

  • What can I learn from this disaster? What is the life lesson here for me to grow from?
  • How can I keep myself and those around me positive and motivated to keep going, even when I am exhausted, feeling hopeless and I cannot see my way through the aftermath of this storm? How can I remind myself that “this too shall pass”, that I have endured the worst of it and I am alive?
  • How do I stay focused on my dreams and goals even in the midst of this adversity? What is my fulcrum? My true North? What do I believe to be true about myself, about God, about humanity?
  • How do I let the fact that I am not alone, strengthen me? How do I draw support from the millions of people going through this very same catastrophe? How do I stay encouraged as I witness the outpouring of compassion and support from my fellow survivors and the International community, whether it be via funds, food, Facebook feed words of encouragement and inspiration, prayers, supplies, disaster relief efforts or fundraising campaigns?

These questions apply for a hurricane and for any storm we face.

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I have faced more than my fair share of storms in the past few years, from seeing my career aspirations come crashing down to chronic illness. I have often wondered just how I was supposed to find a way in the midst of seemingly incredible odds against me. And yet, I’m here, still in the game, with new dreams and a reinforced inner strength. I had to find a way. And that way was excavated out of the rubble of my trials through trust—trust in myself, in God and in humanity. I had to trust and let go of the reins so God could take over. I had to submit, in humility to the grace of my God. And therein lay the gift of resilience.

“When we tackle obstacles, we find hidden reserves of courage and resilience we did not know we had. And it is only when we are faced with failure do we realise that these resources were always there within us. We only need to find them and move on with our lives.” A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

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Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

I am reminded of a conversation I had decades ago, when I was going through a particularly difficult season, and a mentor said to me that I was like a willow tree—that I surely bowed but never broke. She was right. That powerful image has stayed with me. There is a quote that I have had stuck on my office poster board for years, and in writing this post, I understand why it is so meaningful to me. It is because it speaks to me of the heart and soul of resilience and epitomizes for me what resilience looks like: “The sturdiest tree is not found in the shelter of the forest but high upon some rocky crag, where its daily battle with the elements shapes it into a thing of beauty.

Goosebumps.

I was sharing with my friend Maurice, my idea to write a post on LinkedIn on resilience after just having written a post on humility as a hallmark of leadership and he shared an original thought that coupled the two themes that was just so brilliant to me. According to Maurice,  “Resilience is the other side of coin to humility. Humility keeps you grounded. Resilience helps you fly”. With resilience my friends, you can fly, you can swim over 100 miles, you can soar to greater heights than you can ever imagine!

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Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

I  just have to end this post with one of my absolute favorite Maya Angelou poems, Still I Rise. I consider this to be the resilience anthem! This poem deserves its own post, but for now, I’ll just quote the first verse:

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” Maya Angelou

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My heartfelt thoughts are with all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, especially the victims on the islands in the Caribbean whose infrastructures have been completely devastated.  Please consider donating to these organizations to help hurricane victims:


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.  Visit her blog Be Simply Inspired. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.

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.

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

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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/

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

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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.

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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. 

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