10 Ways to be Powerful that I Learned from My Mom

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In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share some lessons I have learned from my mom. My mom was my first role model. She started a successful real estate business and showed me that working moms could do it all. She cooked, cleaned, cared for the family and embraced the role of a full-time career woman.

In addition to paving the way as a business woman, my mom is a first-generation college graduate. She came to the United States on a scholarship and navigated her way through college primarily on her own. She embodies hard work, risk-taking, and family values. I could say so much more about my mom, but instead I’m going to share 10 lessons she taught me about being powerful:

1. Be financially independent. Live within your means, budget, save, invest. Being financially independent means you do not rely on anyone else to support you, and this is the most powerful position of all.

2. Don’t take things personally. Developing thick skin is part of being powerful. What people say and do says more about them than about you.

3. Surround yourself with great people. A team is more powerful than an individual. Picking the right people for your team is the key to success.

4. Do what you say you will do. Your word is your brand. You must follow through on your word in order to establish trust – the most important aspect of a relationship.

5. Get an education. No one can take your education away from you. You will be more marketable, credible, and powerful with each degree you earn.

6. Trust your instincts. If you feel you are being taken advantage of, you probably are. You cannot control others, but you have the power to avoid putting yourself in an unfair situation.

7. Don’t give in to bullies. Bullies do not only exist on the playground; they can be found in the boardroom too. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated or manipulated by letting bullies get under your skin.

8. Success is the best revenge. If someone undermines or betrays you, do not waste one second lowering yourself to their level. When you give someone the satisfaction of watching you suffer, you are giving your power away. Instead, channel your power into your own success.

 9. Look for the win-win. Life is not a zero-sum game. Seek opportunities to bring other people up with you. Helping others is the highest purpose of power.

10. Stay positive. The number one life lesson my mom has taught me is about choosing my attitude. Our power to choose our attitude is the greatest power we possess.

Thanks Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!

 

5 Questions to Help Make Tough Decisions

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That’s me standing on the Porch of Indecision

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

As Student Affairs professionals, we are often faced with some tough personal and professional decisions. In my career, I have had to decide whether to pick up part-time teaching work, when was the best time to start my family, would I consider relocating for career advancement, was I ready to get my PhD, should I accept a time-consuming volunteer role, and should I take on my family’s business. I firmly believe  we cannot be satisfied with someone else’s answer to these tough questions – we must make these decisions on our own.

Friends and family can offer advice, but the best thing they can do is ask you the right questions. A big decision can feel…well, BIG. But like a big goal, it can be more easily achieved by breaking it down into smaller pieces.

Here are 5 questions that can help to make tough decisions:

1. What would you do if you couldn’t fail?

Fear of failure often keeps us paralyzed. It prevents us from maximizing our full potential and fully exercising our strengths. When I was considering a Ph.D. program, the fear of failure was my biggest limitation. I have come to accept and embrace failure as an essential part of learning. Often our failures are not as irreversible or detrimental as we make them out to be in our minds.

“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” – Tony Robbins

2. How does this decision fit into your greater purpose?

Indecisiveness or resistance to making a decision can often be rooted in an underlying value or belief. When a choice seems logical and clear, yet we are still resistant, there may be some deeper inner conflict going on. When my mom approached me about being more involved in our family business, I wanted to honor her and was attracted to the earning potential of a career in real estate; however,  real estate was not my calling. There were aspects that I would have enjoyed, and I could probably have been successful, but my passion is working in education with students.

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” – Steve Jobs

3. Is this the right time?

Some decisions seem crystal clear, except for the timing. One of my toughest decisions was declining the invitation to be the volunteer coordinator for my friend’s mayoral campaign. I wanted to do it, it felt aligned with my greater purpose,  and it was a great match for my skill set, but the timing was terrible. I was a full-time working mom, struggling in my relationship, and had several other commitments. On the other hand, there isn’t always a perfect time. Timing is an important factor, but it’s not the only factor. When an opportunity arises, you may not feel fully prepared but it may be the time to take a risk.

“You can do anything but not everything.” – David Allen

4. How will you feel after you have made this decision?

Visualizing the outcome of the two or more scenarios when trying to make a decision can help us tap into our “gut” reaction. The power of intuition is discussed in a lot of decision-making research, including Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. According to Gladwell, the more expertise you have on a topic, the more likely your gut will predict the most accurate outcome.

“There will be a few times in your life when all your instincts will tell you to do something, something that defies logic, upsets your plans, and may seem crazy to others. When that happens, you do it.” – Judith McNaught

5. What role does your ego play in this decision?

Fear, anxiety, expectation, regret, guilt, and anger are the manifestations of the ego. Ego causes us to compare ourselves to others. Ego takes everything personally. It wants to be right. It needs to feel superior. And, it can lead us to make poor decisions. When we make a decision because we want what someone else has, or we think something will make us happy, the ego is in control.

“You create a good future by creating a good present.” – Eckhart Tolle

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons You Need to Pull Weeds in Life

“With life as short as a half taken breath, don’t plant anything but love. ” – Rumi
In 2014, I was part of a countywide leadership program. For our legacy project we are planting a milk thistle garden for monarch butterflies. The site will be a place where the butterflies can feed and lay eggs, as well as an outdoor classroom for hundreds of local children.
This weekend we had our first work day. We had forty volunteers, including 12 crew members from our local California Conservation Corps. We spent the majority of the morning pulling weeds. While on my hands and knees in the rain pulling invasive grasses, I started thinking how important it is to pull the weeds in our daily lives.

Here are 5 reasons you need to pull the weeds:

1. To make space for what you desire. This beautiful site holds so much potential (which our group is totally going to make happen), yet the ground was covered with weeds. There was no place to plant the desired milk thistle. Similarly, when our lives are filled with meaningless activities, relationships, and worries, it takes away from our ability to spend time doing the things we love.

2. To see the landscape more clearly. With the weeds removed, the natural landscape became more visible. It was easier to see where to plant the milk thistle and to strategically place them. Likewise, it’s harder to gain perspective when our lives are filled with clutter, both physical and emotional. It’s difficult to see where we should place our priorities when our daily lives are already full and busy.

3. To increase your yield. The milk thistle is the crop we want to harvest. The milk thistle is crucial for the reproduction of the monarch butterfly, and as land has been developed the prevalence of this plant has been severely reduced. In order for our milk thistle saplings to survive, the weeds that compete for nutrients and other resources need to be removed. In life, our negative thoughts hinder our ability to yield the most enjoyment and happiness. Negativity and other distractions prevent us from maximizing our full potential.

4. It feels good. Pulling weeds felt great! I felt satisfied with each small patch that I cleared. I liked seeing the piles of weeds build up, and it was exciting to think of the potential for the new space I had created. Clearing away the unwanted activities, distractions, negativity, and other less than desirable aspects of our lives feels exhilarating. Even carving out a few moments of uninterrupted time can create the necessary space for new ideas, inspiration, and energy.

5. It’s a reminder that life goes on. I overheard one of my peers commenting, “Why are we doing this? The weeds are all going to come back.” It’s true that weeds will always grow back in our garden, just as problems will always emerge in life,  but that’s just the way it is. The hope is that fewer weeds will grow once the milk thistle takes root. However, we will never be able to stop the weeds entirely. Weeds are part of life. It’s not always fun, but it can be made easier with friends! and it’s a necessary part of leaving a legacy!

Hello World!

Launching a new blog is always exciting and a little daunting. The first post is like the first brushstroke on a blank canvas. It holds all the potential of becoming a brilliant masterpiece and risks becoming cast aside with the half-knit sweaters and unfinished scrapbooks.

I have been a hobby blogger for almost six years. Writing has always been my creative outlet and stress reliever. So it made sense for me to create an outlet for the ideas, thoughts, and musing I have about work.

I decided to start this blog to share my own experiences and also to create a conversation and build a community. I have worked in student affairs for more than ten years, and I feel privileged to work with some of the brightest students in the country. I know that I am not alone. My days are filled with touching, hilarious, and hair-pulling moments…and I hope to share them all here!