Career, Life Coach, Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: How To Avoid Career Suicide 

I’ve been on somebody’s job since I was a senior in high school. I never knew what it was to ever be without one. It would literally be me resigning from one, using up some left over vacation time and being on the next job a week later. No intermissions. No breaks. No hiatus. No explanations to hem and haw about during a future interview. 

The talking heads now say millennials will find themselves in and out of jobs more than they are in and out of underwear. It’s the natural trend now to avoid putting down too strong of roots. They say your stakes should be loosely drilled into the ground. One day you will need to snatch them up and leave in the dead of the night. I guess it’s true. And I guess this trend is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Yet I’d like to believe whether we remain on a job for one day or ten years there are some valuable lessons to be learned about ensuring one’s career doesn’t suffer great losses. 
Keep Your Nose Clean

I can’t fathom life in my younger years with social media as part of my everyday living. That everything I ever wanted to think, do, say or feel could be shared with the world in one fell swoop. Drunken rages, profanity laced rants, racial slurs said in the heat of the moment, compromising photos–all laid bare for the world to see. All have caused irreparable damage. One day you’re rubbing elbows with your colleagues. Next day you’re on snap chat and the rest is history. There will also be circumstances we face that will never make Facebook live but will certainly make the rumor mill, which my dear is still wildfire fast and merciless in its recounting. 

People have long memories. People have even longer reasons why they wouldn’t attach their names to anyone else’s for fear of being guilty by association. Who wants to ever get a call that starts with “Girl, that girl you sent me…child…a mess!” No one. Who wants to have to spend an iota of their breathing time explaining away some random decision made by someone they vetted or vouched for? No one. It makes for awkward conversations nobody wants to have. Whatever it is. Cut it. Whoever it is. Cut it. Stay on the front page for all things positive. Don’t be about that “hindsight is 20/20” life. Don’t live on the island of regrets.   Don’t be the one whose reference letters dry up like Death Valley. 

Remain Relevant
There is some Gen-Exer in a fetal position somewhere regretting she didn’t follow through with taking those Quickbook courses when she had the chance. The tears soaking her pillow speaks of many other missed opportunities. Don’t be like her. I was a payroll clerk, at the bottom of the office totem pole taking all the Microsoft training classes I could take. I was in undergrad, clocking in 16 hour days of work, internship and class. I missed a whole heap of random stuff. Or at least at the time I thought I did. I doubly paid my dues and expect you, my dear, to pay yours. 

When your boss sends out that upcoming workshops memo, you better be the first to sign up. Don’t spend your time deliberating with your colleagues on the merits of taking a refresher course or joining a mentirship peofram. Sometimes we lose out when we try and hash out with others our intentions. One glib comment can deflate you and cause you to miss out on your next win. If “Susie D. Hater” has no aspirations to move up and move out, that’s her business. You on the other hand came to survey the land and to conquer it. Keep learning, keep improving, keep being your personal best. 

I plan to build on this post in future blogs. Stay tuned. In the mean time, stay out of trouble and stay being your better self. 


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Career, Uncategorized

Exiting Stage Left: The Art of Leaving A Job

There is no easy way to begin the process of separating from one’s place of employment. Yet there are definitely modes of ensuring that you make a clean break with as much class and dignity possible. 

Discretion is key. Taking out a full page ad in the local paper or posting countdown comments on your Facebook page is not recommended. Be sure that your boss and human resource department are the first to know of your intentions. There is a method to the madness of job separation. Informing loose lipped colleagues shouldn’t take precedence over ensuring that you take it to those who need to know first. And even when you have decided to share with others, your organization may still have a process that needs to take precedence over your wanting to shout it from the mountain top. Once you have done your due diligence, then feel free to take the time to notify those who really need to know in your circle of influence. 

Support your successor. No one likes to enter a position with loose ends left untied. The best gift you can give your last job is to know you left it intact and organized. If it means setting aside some time each day to touch base with your successor, make it happen. No one is in your head. You will have to jot things down, organize  folders, clean out your office and make the transition a smooth one. Use the golden rule on this one. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

Keep in touch. Let’s be honest, leaving a job is akin to a loss. You’re walking away from some meaningful relationships. Your work family sees you more than your real one. Those water cooler convos helped you through some tough times. The meetings after the meetings kept you sane and functioning. There are some people you are happy to be rid of. But remember your community isn’t as big as you think. That six degrees of separation is for real. And you never know who knows who. Note the connections you want to maintain. Some will be for personal reasons. Others for professional reasons. Cutting ties and never looking back isn’t recommended. Don’t cut your nose and spite your face. 

At day’s end you want to be a class act in how you separate from your job. You do not want to be the one known for being messy. One’s reputation is too important to put on the line. Keep those matches hidden away. Burning bridges never helped anyone.  
 

Career, Life Coach

Power of the Sistrenhood

The two young ladies were huddled together, holding on to each other for dear life. No we weren’t outside in arctic weather but rather in a conference room filled with professional sistahs. My split second decision to break away from an acquaintance and make a beeline for them was definitely not instinctive but rather a God-thing.

Introvert self-talk begins.  Smile with your eyes Delphine. Reach out your hand. Give proper eye contact and add some soprano to that alto voice of yours. And then connect. What happens next is yet again a God-thing. 

The young ladies had shared earlier to the group that they were just out of grad school. Infants. First real job in the professional world. Toddlers. And scared to be in this great big world about ready to make yet another career move. Preschoolers. So I know they were nervous as hell to be in a room of accomplished women who were there–not to embark on their first journey, but some on their third or fourth. You’re talking married for 20 years. Going through a divorce. Just got married. How does a 23 year old complete with all of that?!

I took less than ten minutes to say what I wish someone my age would have told my younger self back then. I had to first tell them my age. Because apparently being shorter and appearing younger doesn’t carry as much weight as a greying woman in four inch heels. Le sigh…

Disclaimer. I’m about to be 41. Yes I don’t “look” like 40 (whatever that is) but I do have one gray eyebrow to prove it and a morning backache that makes me think twice about wearing heels these days. Lol! 

To my younger sistrens I say …

Don’t be intimidated. Seasoned Black women are a force to be reckoned with.  You put us all in a room and gale force winds begin to swirl while animals scurry about.  A mere turn of our heads and the room is at attention. A slight head tilt and the world moves on its axis. Remember when the black male anchor said “This is an earthquake” and ducked for cover? That was no earthquake! That was a black woman walking in the room. Head high. Hips swaying. And what?

It’s like I read their minds because the head nodding commenced and they were like “Yeah, so many of you are like…wow!” Black sistrens have that effect. 

Lean in and learn. We’ve got some years under our belt younger sistrens. Don’t hesitate to acknowledge (and all hail respect that). Then decide what you want to glean. One of my mentors is a 71 year old retiree. We met on the job. I would take every available free moment of my work day to just hang out with her. She was on that Bal Harbour, Coco Chanel, Hermes status. I’m on that whatever I can get at Burlington Coat, Marshalls/Ross/Target, and Macy’s Clearance sales status. But she never made me feel like a second class sistah. 

Once I got past the facade that others tripped over when they first met her, we became fast friends. I can call her anytime, bounce some ideas off of her and check in as needed. She helped me refinance my home. She helped me message my approach to my husband without getting into a huge tete-a-tete. She’s a wise soul with a take no prisoners attitude. I love her! 

We want to learn from you too. Youthfulness is refreshing. It signifies all things new. Aging tends to take us from a place of motion to stagnancy. For those seasoned chicks who have some more living to do, we know that relevance doesn’t come from talking to our 40-something year old friends all the time. I have some girlfriends who are younger than me doing some crazy, sexy, cool things with their lives right now.  I’m always inspired by younger women (at least the smart and forward thinking ones) who can teach me a thing a two. No, I’m not interested in learning a new dance from you but I would like to know more about IPO’s, the latest productivity app, or leadership movement that’s right around the corner. 

Younger sistrens, you’ve got a lotta learning to do. Don’t be afraid to step out, spy out the land, and make those intentional relationships happen. As long as your motives are right, God will make room for you to grow. 

Career, Life Coach

Getting Ready to Get Ready

I jotted down oodles of notes from a recent women’s leaders conference, gave up trying to type on my IPad. I realized earlier on this was no business meeting and my typing couldn’t keep up with all the knowledge dropping that was taking place this day.

Being back on social media has been a lesson in humanity’s funny way of doing things. Barely have we gotten through Thanksgiving and I see the #2016 hashtags popping up. I’m guilty of having my own–#goaldigger 😆. Go ahead and steal it!  I know I did.  Right off Pinterest. I sho’ did. 

We’re psyched! Who needs to talk about prepping for a weekend with family we rarely see, when we can talk about all the things we want to do come January First.  Poster boards flying off the shelves while we prep for Vision Board parties; leaving the 20 pound turkeys behind in the freezer. We are gung-ho. Applying for jobs, calling our trainers (oh the shame!), buying up all the books on self-help. All in the name of getting ready. 

Then the speaker stops me cold, hard in my tracks with this thought. We get caught up in the business of getting ready to get ready. Screech! Stop! What say you? Say it ain’t so! Yep. It is. 

Getting ready to get ready is procrastinating. You’ve been talking about writing this Great American Novel and haven’t placed pen to paper or fingers to laptop. You’ve been talking about going back to school to get that much needed certification but if asked which colleges has that program, you can’t pull it out your… well you get the point. You’re ready to start a family but haven’t found a reputable OBGYN to consult with. Genetics counseling? Huh? Pregnancy planning apps? What’s that? 

Getting ready to get ready is operating in fear. When you can’t move beyond a bunch of Facebook posts and Pinterest likes, to the actual “doing” of what you wish to do, it’s an indicator that something or someone is holding you back. That someone can be a parent, child, friend–husband/wife (gasp!) but that person usually ends up being you. You holding yourself back from getting down and dirty in the planning. You holding yourself back from getting in the muck of researching your competitors and developing that business plan, first draft, or portfolio. 

Getting ready to get ready is being lazy. Reality shows have  an entire generation and a half of another one believing you can call yourself an entrepreneur without putting sweat, blood, and tears in the game. I’m from the World Book Encyclopedia and card catalog generation. It meant I had to go somewhere to get what I needed. Real work takes elbow grease, not copying and pasting what you find on Wikipedia. It doesn’t have to be a college degree (although a four year degree never killed anybody) but it does mean taking some classes, getting a certification, and learning a new skill.  It doesn’t have to be leaving your current job, but the side hustle sure can’t hurt until that glorious day when you strike out on your own. Inhale. Pray. Leap. Exhale. 

John Maxwell, the guru on all things leadership says it best. “Intentional living is all uphill.” 
So let’s move from the getting ready to get ready to the business of doing what you are more than qualified and ready to do. Drop kick that spirit of fear! Say ciao to that spirit of laziness! Turn your back on that spirit of procrastination!  It’s the enemy’s way of holding you down. Last I checked believers don’t operate with a fearful mind yet rather in the confidence that the lamp at our feet only moves when we do. 

Career, Life Coach

Comes With The Territory

Acts Chapter 6 opens with the church growing in leaps and bounds. There’s a little dip in the road. The church leaders need to find capable men to help with the serving of the food. Ya’ll know food could make or break a church! Even back then. 

Stephen is asked to lead and he’s got what it takes to make things happen. 

“And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.”

Is that hate I see on the horizons?

“And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council.”

They found “witnesses” and all to promote their personal defamation agenda of Stephen. We already know how this ends. 

God’s people should remember a few things when it comes to leadership. 

Start Off Small. Stephen was given the job of leading the food ministry! It doesn’t get more menial than this. He didn’t turn his nose up at the opportunity to bless the widows and those in need. Rather rolled up his sleeve and got to work. 

Expect Opposition. You don’t get anywhere in life with people patting you on the back for a job well done. It’s a false sense of reality that can cause one to get complacent. Those of us who are value driven will face contention at every side. It comes with the servant-leadership territory. 

God’s Got This. We spend way too much time wondering what people are saying about us and less time wondering what God is saying to us. He knows what’s best for us. He knew before your birth that you would be placed in circumstances that would stretch you beyond your own imagination. He also knew that there wasn’t any curveball thrown your way that you couldn’t catch. 

Here’s the clincher people! Your naysayers, haters, whatever worthless word you choose to ascribe to people who shouldn’t matter one bit to you–well they will end up the sidelines of life wondering “what in the what?!” 

“And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.”

You aren’t the first nor will you be the last to walk through that tunnel called life, running along the way, walking sometimes, and dare I say even crawling. Keep your chin up and just shine. 

Career

Optimus: A Prime Example of Leadership

I can’t remember a weekend that wasn’t spent in front of the tv watching the latest action figure cartoon. I’m so glad I had a brother who fought and won the remote control. It meant he could watch whatever he wanted to and that usually meant something like GI Joe or The Transformers.

Best thing Michael Bay ever did was bring that legacy back to life these past few years. I always marveled at my main metal dude aka Optimus Prime. I wanted to be a leader like him. All tough with skin as thick as chrome.

Optimus Prime is every child’s hero. Every friend’s bestie, every wife’s knight in shining armor, and every employee’s leader. I like him best as a leader. Forging forward, taking hits along the way and un-relentless in his pursuit of all that is just and right.

Optimus is Vulnerable
He wore his heart on his sleeve and wasn’t afraid to show others that he was either angry or at a loss. This movie showed that angry side much more than other times. He was ready to throw in the towel in complete distrust of humans. And he certainly wasn’t above listening to the wise counsel of Yaeger (played by Mark Wahlberg). Here he was THE Prime taking advice from a “puny” human. Gotta give it to any leader who isn’t afraid to express his frustration and isn’t above hearing others out.

Optimus is Purposeful
There was no deviating from the plan. They had to get the Seed away from Lock Down and the host of other bad guys who were out to destroy the world. He didn’t like that he still had to work with humans up to a point. That scene where we are finally introduced to the infamous Dynobots was all about convincing the pessimists of the world that this job needed to be done. Leaders tussle in the dirt with one thing in mind–getting the job done.

Optimus is Sacrificial
In the end Prime knows he can’t expect to remain on earth with a bounty on his head. No one ever wants to talk about the risks associated with being at the helm of the ship. There are challenges that can bring a leader low and there times when walking the plank will have to be a solo trip. It is a measure of a leader to take one for the team.

How I wish Bay and Spielberg would take another swing at this dynastic theme but I kinda like that “left waiting in the wind” feeling. As he jets off into the universe, you know Prime isn’t finished with his work. There’s more to do. There is a sense of optimism as he leaves his team behind to care for the humans that caused so much personal pain. He chose to fight through his personal angst and has no regrets as this chapter in his life comes to a close.

Career

Social Work Month: Why Social Work Is Sexy Part Trois

I love my job. I cannot say it enough. We are a ways away from the soup kitchen, child snatching images that have been society’s idea of what we do. I shun family member’s hidden disappointments of nursing/lawyering/doctoring dreams deferred. Rather, I embrace days and hours that never look the same.

Today I sat with a client and watched her mind go from zero to one-hundred in one hour. It was refreshing to have someone hear her out for a change. Someone who “gets it” in a judgment free zone; someone who walks away making no promises other than “let’s do this again next week.”

Today I sat stunned to watch the face of a former client caught in a hale of bullets now laying in a hospital bed tonight. The picture on my phone of a youthful face, whose tomorrow is now uncertain. I recall an unmet need and the limits of my willpower and my reach.

An exhilarating and ever humbling experience is my norm as a social worker. No two clients, story, life, moment is ever alike.