Tag Archives: success

Preparedness

Everyday is preparation for something yet to come.  I come from a family that has several members who had illustrious military careers, including my grandfather, who was a decorated World War II Veteran and my uncle who is a decorated Tuskegee Airman.  I’ve been taught a great deal about being prepared.  When I was in high school ROTC, I learned that “pissed-poor preparedness, results in pissed-poor results”.  Preparedness in the military teaches you to be ready, specifically, for battle.  But that’s not the only thing it can prepare a person for.  Many people who have had military careers and experience also become valuable leaders.  Leaders are prepared.

I decided to amp up my workout routine recently, in preparation for the Opera Ball that I’m attending on October 2nd and for a cruise I’m going on early next year.  My workout is HARD; however, I’ve already seen results. Mark England is designing my dress for the Opera Ball and has to alter its size by about four inches.  That’s a reduction in my dress size in only about four weeks.  In addition to my weight loss, I have to prepare for that upcoming black tie event in other ways.  I had to select my make up palette, shoes, handbag and jewelry to compliment the dress, even though I had yet to see the finished product.  This meant that shopping had to be done, appointments had to be made, and orders had to be placed.  I don’t have an assistant (yet) so those preparations had to be done by me.  For the cruise early next year, I’m already considering what other preparations I need to make so that I will have an enjoyable trip, outside of what clothes to pack and how many swimsuits I will need.  I need to purchase my airfare, reserve my hotel in South Beach, arrange for my car service to and from the airport both here and in Miami, decide how best to get to the Port-au-Miami from South Beach for the cruise itself, which night clubs I want to be guest-listed on, etc.  Those preparations are not ones I want to leave for the last minute because other situations could arise that would distract me.  When traveling I like to be able to relax once the date of departure arrives.  In order to maintain that Zen-like feeling I get when I travel, I will need to be prepared in advance.  I also need to consider the possibilities (such as airplane delays) and have mental plans of action at my disposal for those possibilities. 

That’s how life is.  Those who are prepared for the inevitable possibilities can relax and better handle what comes their way, whereas, people who procrastinate or fail to evaluate situations are often left unprepared, confused and miss out on opportunities.  We prepare our children for their future by providing them with educational opportunities when they are young.  We hope they pay attention to what they learn in school, so that they are prepared for what they may encounter during their college years.  We all prepare for work each day, either by checking our schedules and emails, meditating, exercising, reading business articles or whatever your daily routine is.  It’s how you prepare.  It determines the initial response you will have to whatever interactions you are involved in.  We plan and pray for the best, but prepare for the worst.  Murphy’s Law states, “That anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”.  However, if you prepare yourself, even the situations that are “wrong” can turn into something “right”. 

Having faced a layoff earlier this year, what I thought was terribly wrong in my life would have been a lot worse if I had not had a level of preparedness.  I keep my resume updated, I have marketable skills, I had rainy day money in my 401k and my faith is stronger than I am.  I had even decided what I’d do while I was laid off.  That wrong turned a promotion and a raise to replace the position I was being laid off from.  That wrong became a right, even though I wasn’t expecting it, I had preparations in place.  The end result was completely unforeseen. 

Being prepared doesn’t require that you know in advance what the end result will be.  It only requires that you do your best to develop a contingency plane for the events that may be out of your control, but controlled by you after they occur.  How you react to and evaluate a situation, and how much energy you exert, are all within your personal control, regardless of the situation.  It helps to have an awareness of a situation in advance, but that’s not possible the majority of the time.  The only thing you can do is be ready for the possibilities, the changes, and the choices.  This can not be accomplished by sitting in the background to see what others will do.  This can not be accomplished by crossing your fingers and hoping the issue will go away.  This can not be accomplished by “just praying about it”.  After all, faith without works is dead and we’re given free will to make decisions for a reason.  Therefore, you have to be prepared.  

Of course, no one can ever be prepared for every instance in life, but it serves each of us best to make an attempt to be prepared, more than it does not to.

Non-Negotiables

Non-negotiables are the standards each individual has when involved in a relationship, whether it is professional or personal.  If a person’s non-negotiables can not be met or exceeded by the other person, they are willing to walk away from both the person and the relationship without looking back or having regrets.  Professionally, non-negotiables may include examining a person’s integrity, knowledge, work ethic and character.  Business people often choose their business associates in a similar manner that they would choose a mate; by asking questions based on their non-negotiables.  Is this person honest?  Is this person knowledgeable?  Is this person reliable?  In a pinch, would this person step up or lose focus?  Is this person punctual and respectful of my time?  Is this person organized? What does this person bring to this relationship that will benefit me?  Can I learn from this person?  Consider the last mate or the last business associate you had.  If they didn’t meet or exceed your non-negotiables, how long did you continue the relationship? 

Non-negotiables should be realistic.  They should also reflect who you are as a person and what you can offer to others.  You should not expect more from others than you expect from yourself.  If you have high expectations of yourself, it is only natural for you to feel the same towards those that you do business with or have personal relationships with as well.  Successful people do not surround themselves with people who constantly fail.  Ambitious people do not surround themselves with people who lack ambition.  It’s not the natural order.  Strength attracts strength and success attracts success. 

Non-negotiables considered when selecting a mate, may include having children, how to educate and discipline the children, financial goals and security, where to live, how to celebrate family events and holidays (which is especially crucial for blended families), along with other identified topics that you are steadfast about or that could result in arguments if the other person disagrees with your outlook.  When entering into a relationship, a person’s non-negotiables are never to be assumed.  Communication is vital.  You should always ask the other person what their non-negotiables are, and be honest about yours in return.  This conversation can take place anytime after the second or third date with the same person.  During the conversation, if you want to be married, you should express your desires to find a life spouse early so you can discover if you are potentially wasting your time or not.  Likewise, if you are interested in a more casual, noncommittal relationship, you should express this as well.  Don’t be afraid of discovering that the other person is not on the same page as you.  Everyone you meet isn’t going to have the same desires and goals you have simply because you share a physical attraction for each other.  Having this conversation too late can easily result in hurt feelings and resentment. 

As a single woman, I know that some men may be seeking a wife, but not right now.  Those are the men that I tell to call me when they are ready.  If a woman holds on to the dream that he’ll change his mind if she just hangs around long enough, a lot of time could pass.  She could potentially miss the opportunity to meet the man for her because she wasted her own time or operated out of desperation or fear.  It is true that when two people meet and find themselves attracted to each other, they decide within themselves what their intentions are.  However, they don’t always share their intentions with the other person. 

Remember when we were kids and the boy would pass a note to the girl?  The note usually said something similar to ‘Do you want to be my girlfriend? Circle yes or no’.  That’s The Question.  Traditionally a man would ask a woman the question when he felt that he wanted to spend time with or exclusively date a woman.  Then one day, men stopped asking the question and women started assuming that after a certain ‘reasonable’ amount time had passed, that there was a relationship in place.  As a result, there are people who think they don’t have to verbally communicate their desires in order to have a relationship.  These are the same people who never discuss their non-negotiables with each other, but expect the other person to “know” as if by osmosis.  This creates the potential for dramatic situations to arise, along with misunderstandings, arguments and hurt feelings. 

We wouldn’t conduct business in this manner and expect to be successful.  We wouldn’t tell our business associates that they should know what we expect when we’ve never concisely communicated our business expectations or goals to them.  We wouldn’t expect positive results from others who didn’t understand the way we do business.  Your personal relationships are another form of business.  How well you handle your business, determines the results you get out of it.  Communicate your non-negotiables effectively with others.  It will save you time, energy and improve your overall success, both professionally and personally.

Define Yourself

If you’re like me, you can recall many times that you were rejected in your lifetime.  We’ve all felt rejection.  The job you applied for but you were told that someone else received it because you lacked experience.  The promotion that you were working towards, that someone “less qualified” received.  The line of credit that you needed at the time, but your credit score was less than stellar.  The man or woman that told you that you didn’t make enough money, drive a nice enough car or physically appeal to them.  I’ve been there, too.  I was there myself yesterday…last month…last year.

I’ve learned that the other person’s opinion of your worth is just their opinion.  Every person has an idea in their mind before you walk through the door of what they want and expect.  They want you to live up to their idea and expectations, before they even see you.  Often their ideas and expectations can’t be altered because they are unwilling to compromise.  That is fine.  Everything ain’t for everybody.  There are those rare occasions when you will walk through the door and someone will think you are everything they want; you’re the ideal employee to fill that position, the right fit for that promotion, the type of person they want a relationship with.  Whether you meet a person’s expectations or not doesn’t define you or your worth.  Only you can do that.

You start defining yourself by knowing what your gifts are.  Everyone has skills and talents bestowed upon them.  Some of us have had them nurtured by our parents and teachers at a young age, so we are well aware of what those skills and talents are.  Some of us have been downtrodden by life and told that we are less than what God made us to be, therefore we’ve never examined our full potential.  Either way, it’s never too late to nurture what you have been given.  Allow your talents and skills to be honed and you begin redefining your life.  A couple of years ago, I attended an event where I heard Susan L. Taylor, Editor Emerita of Essence Magazine speak.  She said one thing that stuck with me to this day, “Everyone is here on purpose, with purpose”.

You also define yourself by what you do, even when no one is looking.  Your integrity is an essential part of who you are.  Crowd pleasers and “Yes Men” have to rely on the thoughts of others for their survival and success.  Are you a follower who does what others do, even when you know it’s wrong?  Do you have an opinion behind closed doors, but when you’re allowed the opportunity to speak up and make changes, you slink in the corner?  Or are you a leader, who sets an example of what should be done because it’s the right thing to do, who isn’t afraid to speak up for the greater good, even when others rise against you?  My grandfather, Leon L. Jones, raised me until he died when I was twelve.  One of the household principles he instilled in me was a twist on a well known phrase.  Back in the day, people who were trying to live above their means or pretended to have greater financial worth than they actually did in order to impress others were considered as “trying to keep up with the Joneses”.  My grandfather instilled in me that “We don’t have to keep up with the Joneses, because we are the Joneses.  Everybody else has to keep up with us”.  I live by that.  As a result I strive to set myself apart from others and be the best example I can be, even when no one else is looking.

Your definition includes your confidence.  Regardless of your size, shape or age, you should make being healthy and confident a goal in your life and sustain it.  It’s a recurring theme in the health industry; exercise improves the feeling of well being, improves stamina, mental clarity and lowers blood pressure.  People who exercise regularly, regardless of how stressful their environment is, have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower cortisol levels, are “happier” and more successful in their endeavors than people who do not.  Your health contributes to how your feel about yourself.  And how you feel about yourself determines how others react towards you.  If you are viewed as meek, afraid, and easily intimidated, often you will not be taken seriously, you will not be given opportunities by decision makers and you are more likely to be mistreated, or victimized.  Unless there is a million dollars paving the street in front of you, you shouldn’t walk around with your head down.  A person who walks with their head held up proudly, not only will see that million dollars on the ground, but they will see it sooner than you will because they are looking ahead, instead of down.

Who you surround yourself with also defines you.  Do you have friends whom, although they are different from you, they are encouraging and supportive of you?  Will they tell you when you are wrong and stand beside you when you are right?  Are they trustworthy?  Are they consistent?  It is said that “you are defined by the company that you keep”.  If you look at your inner circle of friends and you see yourself surrounded by people who are unsuccessful, lack ambition, complain about everything but never offer a solution, or possess other traits that are those of people who will cause you to be defined poorly, you first need to assess what type of person you are, the type of person you prefer to be, then you need to get new friends.  You won’t likely change the minds or lives of these types of people in your life with words; therefore, if you can’t change your friends, you need to change your friends.  Surround yourself with others who will “upgrade” your way of thinking, people you can learn from who are also encouraging of you and your success.  When you do this, you will see your definition improve.

These are just basic suggestions for initially defining yourself.  There are other aspects that contribute to who you are and who you want to be as a person, including financial, spiritual, and emotional.  Once you’ve started this process with the basics, the other elements will follow.  You are a multi-dimensional person and every aspect of you is equally important.  How you choose to define yourself overall, is important and reflective of the person you decide to be.