Category Archives: life lessons

Remembering You: A Tribute to Woodrow Jobity (1940-1991)

 

“I just want you to remember me”. These were the last words I heard my father say before he went into a coma and died shortly thereafter, 26 years ago, when I was 26 years old. He had just turned 52 a few days earlier. His death was completely unexpected. Here was a man who rarely got sick, who woke up early to run in the mornings, who ate healthy meals, who did not smoke, rarely drank and took time to rest. Yet, this was his fate, to die of an incurable illness just two years shy of his planned retirement.

He said these words, after I asked the only question I could think of after spending a day bottled up with a whirlwind of emotions, and not being able to express the profound sense of fear and helplessness I felt at seeing him so close to death.  I had asked, “What can we do for you?” not knowing that his answer would be the last thing I would ever hear him say. His response seemed so simple to me at the time. I remember thinking, is THAT all? Remember you? That goes without saying! Surely, we can do more!

Not coincidentally, in my 52nd year of life I find myself thinking and writing about legacy  a lot. I consider how I would like to be remembered. What impact I want to leave on the earth that would stand the test of time, way after I am gone. And these thoughts naturally lead me to think of Daddy and how I remember him, which has evolved over the decades.

Daddy reluctantly posing for photo in one of his fav positions: reading paper in bed

The legacy he left behind is an impressive one, by any account.

At 18, my father’s mother died, and he being the eldest of six children had to find his way, pretty much on his own. He didn’t have the luxury of getting a college education. He came from humble beginnings. He started working as a quantity surveyor and steadily worked his way up the career ladder, at the Trinidad & Tobago division of a prominent British owned multinational construction company. I wish I knew more about what guided him to his chosen career path and where he got his strong work ethic from. Regardless, he worked it out, and by his late 30’s was doing exceedingly well. He would soon make Executive Director of the company, the highest title he could hold in Trinidad. It’s the equivalent of an Executive Vice President at a major US multinational company. Impressive for a “self-made” man.

Photo of Dad as toddler with his Mom

As his eldest child, I remember spending a couple years in public school but by age 7, I went to private school. I was getting an allowance by age 11.  My two siblings had the same privileges. We wanted for nothing. We lived a very comfortable upper-middle class life in Trinidad, except without the bells and whistles screaming so. I got to go to my chosen high school because of my good grades, but also because of the private school primary education that paved the way. At 18, I applied to attend Rutgers University in New Brunswick NJ. It was a wild card decision—I never expected to get accepted and never expected that Daddy would let me go that far away from home. He ruled our roost very strictly, and put his foot down on overnight stays in anyone’s home, far less letting me live abroad! But the stars were aligned I guess, and I got accepted, AND surprisingly, he gave little push back on letting me go.  Because of the wealth he had been increasingly building, he was able to pay for the entire thing. To be clear, this is no small feat.  I would have been coming into the US as an international student, which meant tuition was doubled for me. We’re talking converting TT currency into US dollars and paying double what the typical American student would pay. Plus, he had to pay for my living expenses as well. But it is testimony to my father’s success in his profession, that he had the means to do this, and to do it comfortably. A year later my sister would similarly benefit at an even more expensive private University in the United States.

Daddy at my graduation from Rutgers

Unlike many of my peers at Rutgers, I did not have to work to help pay for my degree. I chose to work in my Junior and Senior years to gain experience for my resume. This is privilege. One my father did not have but that I was blessed with because of his success.

It was not wasted on me. I maintained such excellent grades in College that I was afforded a full-scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree in Finance at the prestigious Cambridge University in England.  My Caribbean heritage and my Magna Cum Laude degree gave me the honor of being selected as a recipient of the award from Barclays Bank through the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust. It was an incredible opportunity and a life-changing experience. I was the only woman in the class of 20 or so mostly international students in the Finance MPHIL program to finish it. I went on to complete an MBA program, excel in my market research career, resigning as a Vice President in 2007 to work as an Image Consultant in my own business full-time. I mentored, supported, inspired and encouraged hundreds of women in my work as an image consultant. In 2010, I wrote a how-to style guide on Amazon that was a bestseller in the Fashion and Self-Esteem genres for months. I was the only black market researcher at my company for years. Doors of opportunity were opened for me by the sacrifices my parents made. I have achieved successes I never dreamed were possible which were facilitated by the legacy my father built for me and my family.

But there’s more to my father’s legacy.

My father didn’t just help us, his nuclear family. He was also a great source of security and dependability for his extended family. Someone needed a job, he provided it. Another a loan, sure, he’d back it. Professional advice? He gave that away in spades. He may not have spent as much time as he could have with his loved ones, but he sure was a resource we all could turn to, again and again. He was generous with what he had worked so hard for. I think it pained him to see others struggling financially, the way he may have had to growing up. So he gave, even when he was burned because of it. He gave, nevertheless.

Photo of Daddy and I at my confirmation at 14

At Cambridge, I remember him reprimanding me harshly because I wanted to get a blue collar job to augment my scholarship funds. I was also trying to become more independent. But my father was appalled that I would be in want in any way, and told me via phone it was absolutely out of the question to work, that I needed to focus on my studies. If I needed money, I simply had to ask him and he was going to be wiring X hundred pounds stat! Period. Full-stop. I was frustrated and in tears at the time. But now I see so clearly his heart—he wanted to provide for me, for all of us—he didn’t want us to struggle, ever. My father worked hard, at probably great personal cost to himself, so he could garner enough wealth (land, savings, stocks) so he could retire at 54 and finally relax and so that his family would never suffer the stigma of poverty. But it is so true that in life, “man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Then there was the way my father befriended those less fortunate than himself. My father and I share many qualities I’ve come to see, and one of them is privacy and what I like to dub, “friendly introversion”. He was friendly with many people but only really intimate with a select few. Most of my life I remember him having just one best friend. It was a guy he used to work out with in his 20’s. A simple man. I recall that man visiting us with his family a few times. And even as my father became increasingly successful, that guy, that simple man who had not pedigree nor money, remained his dear friend.

He never forgot his humble beginnings, my father. He didn’t have any illusions of grandeur. In fact, he was the pillar of humility. I recently posed an article on humility and leadership,  and I cited a few great leaders we all know and respect as exemplifying humility. My father could slide right in there in the company of Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Barack Obama and others who for me modeled humility. It’s a characteristic that I’ve slowly begun to respect, wholeheartedly embrace, and live out in my own life. My father left me that legacy too.

Later in his life, my father got very active in the Catholic Church and gave of his time, resources and wealth to the body of Christ locally and in other parts of the Caribbean. He was well-respected and beloved in the local church community.  I remember visiting home from Rutgers and Daddy dragging me to attend the 7.30 am mass and me begrudgingly obliging (some of the time). He would be so down to earth in that element! He would wear his big ‘ole grin as he mingled after service with parishioners. No one was too insignificant to be welcomed and supported by him. It was truly a blessing to witness him in action like that.

A professional photo of my father

There was a poor lady who sold cakes outside the church to support herself every Sunday. My father always made it a point to engage and buy something from her. He would chat with her for a few minutes every Sunday in addition to buying her treats. I remember my mother telling me how much this woman grieved for him after he died. I didn’t even know the woman’s name, but my father had left such an impact on her that she wept for him after his death like if he was her own kin. I’m guessing he made her feel worthy. He let her know he saw her even though many people passed her by. He showed her that she had worth. He showed her grace. Jesus shared with his disciples the parable of the King who reflecting Jesus’ own heart for the outcast when he said, ‘Truly I tell youwhatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 22:40  As I write this tribute, this memory sticks out to me as an example of Daddy walking that Christ walk, loving on the people right in front of him.  

Daddy’s moral compass seemed centered around caring for those in his sphere and serving them whenever he had the opportunity. As the Apostle Paul exhorted so often in the New Testament:  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4 NIV When I consider what my father most valued in life, I have to believe that loving people, in the ways he knew to do that, must have been very high on his list. And this was especially true for his family. He cared that we were in harmony with each other. It mattered to him that we stuck up for each other in the tough times and that we supported each other.

My father wanted to be remembered. When I think of my success and achievements, I remember how his sacrifices helped paved the way for me to shine. When I think of the comfortable life I had for most of my life, and the luxuries I often take for granted, I remember. When I envision the way his face lit up when he smiled, I remember. When I catch myself speaking just a wee bit too fast with just a hint of a stammer, just like he did, I remember. When I think of the man he was, not the father but just the man, with all his shortcomings but also with his gifts and strengths, I remember. When I see my own winning smile and the mole on my left cheek that I have in common with him, I remember.

Photo of Dad in his 20’s

Photo of me in my early 20’s

Those words, “I just want you to remember me”, haunted me for a long time. But at the end of the day, isn’t legacy all about being remembered? All we do, our achievements, the books we write, the money we save, the art we create, the medals we win, the battles we fight—all, ALL, are attempts at being remembered, long after we’re gone. They’re the footprints we leave behind in the sand for others to walk in.

Yet his remarkable achievements aside, when all is said and done, what I remember most about my father are the values he inspired in me by his example.

These values include humility, hard work, generosity, perseverance, resilience, compassion, and having and executing a vision. I can take those with me wherever I go and regardless of my life circumstances.  While my circumstances may be less than desired, my core values remain. Wealth and material possessions may crumble before our very eyes, no matter what buffers or protection we think we have in place. No one is immune from adversity. There is so much in life we don’t have control over. But no one, no situation, can take away our core values. These have real longevity. This has been true in my life.

We all want to know our lives mattered, that we made an impact, that we did something good with what we were given, and to believe that the world is better off for our being in it.  I think Daddy can rest assured that he blessed me and many others by the footprints he left on our hearts.

Thank you Daddy for your legacy and your love.

Your beloved daughter,

Natalie

In Memory of Woodrow Jobity (Oct 23rd 1940-Oct 28th 1991)


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, insight 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.

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?

hurricane

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

—–

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

woman happy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Ways to Use the Power of your Words for Good

talking

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please share how you use your words for good.

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

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.