Tag Archives for " Purpose "

Six Skills Required For The Art of Having Grit

What does it mean to have grit? The dictionary defines grit as “courage or resolve; the strength of character; and mental toughness”. I once asked a senior leader what he looks for in people he hires to his team. The things he mentioned were the usual suspects save one – raw talent, smart, coachable, flexible and grit. Two things stood out to me about this list. First, there was no mention of knowing how to do everything, that’s where raw talent and coachable comes in. You can teach people what you want them to do but if the other aspects aren’t already present in the person, it doesn’t really matter. Second, this was the first time I ever heard a leader use the word grit when describing the ideal employee. I agree the most talented people in any organization have a certain amount of grit, but it’s usually described with fancier words such as perseverance, courage, brave, determination, etc. The reason I like the word grit and I like that he used the word grit is because it’s a simple word. It drives at the essence of what people need today in the workplace, in life, in business and so on. It’s visual and raw. You get the sense that others don’t mess with a person that has grit. If they do, they quickly find out the true meaning of the word.

A word of caution about grit though. If one of the aspects overpower the others it can come across as bullying, arrogant, mean, pessimistic, so on and so forth. There is a delicate balance and art to having grit. You have to know when to be hard versus soft; when to be steel versus silk; and when to be loud versus quiet. There is a certain wisdom to having grit.

To Thine Own Self Be True

A basic component of having grit is to know your weaknesses, strengths, and triggers. When you know and embrace these three things you can shift your energy and actions accordingly to manage almost any situation. For example, if you embrace people not following instructions is a big trigger for you ask someone else to manage certain processes for you. If you have to go it alone, set up a system that relies on your strengths to deal with those types of situations. You may decide to set up a call with everyone to walk people through a process at once. That way you’re not repeating it over and over which only serves to flip the trigger over and over.

Additionally, embracing your weaknesses, strengths and triggers will allow you to identify your boundaries and communicate them to others.

Solve The Problem

Finger pointing or “throwing others under the bus” is a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself. When I worked in trading we had very little time to make tough decisions. We’re talking a minute or two, if that. There was no time to focus on the outcomes of a problem or even people’s feelings. We simply had to solve the problem, identify the fix and implement the solution. Did tempers flare sometimes? Absolutely, we’re talking about billions of dollars a day in transactions. But tempers got way worse if the issue became repetitive. It meant the problem wasn’t solved, merely the symptoms were treated.

Problem solving is an important component of having grit because people with grit tend to power through situations. You rarely hear people with grit complaining that somebody else did something. They explain the issue, how the issue came about, the potential solutions, and then set about fixing it.

Find The Signal In The Noise

This goes hand-in-glove with solving the problem, the signal versus the noise. People with grit outright ignore noise but recognize that the static is surrounding something. They look for the something. Think of it this way. When you’re trying to tune into a radio station and you are one or two numbers off you can hear the program but it’s covered with a bunch of static. You have to turn the dial (or push the button) to fine tune the station to hear it crystal clear. That’s what people with grit do. They analyze the information they are receiving and have the ability to distinguish the static from the crystal clear signal and that’s what they act on. They don’t exhaust themselves trying to focus on the program through the noise or even deal with the noise. The noise is a smoke screen and drains everyone’s energy.

Find A Way And Fire That Engine

One of my favorite movie lines is from Armageddon. They are about to take off from the asteroid but the shuttle won’t start. Bruce Willis’ character is outside ready to sacrifice himself to save the world but the remaining crew tells Houston Control they can’t take off. Houston Control replies back “if there’s not a way, you find a way, now fire that engine!” Spoiler alert, they do get the engine started. But I love that line so much because it nicely sums up the heart of a person with grit – if you don’t immediately see a way, find or make a way. People with grit exhaust every possibility of which they can conceive. They ask others for ideas and exhaust those. Only after trying a thousand different things do they concede they haven’t found the answer…yet, rarely do they use the word “impossible”. Results are the primary goal – not titles or accolades. That will come regardless, those with grit, however, are interested in earning them.

Exercise Wisdom

People with grit aren’t all bark and all bite. They know when it’s time to bark, when it’s time to bite and when it’s time for a belly rub. Despite how true grit is depicted in the movie of the same name, it doesn’t mean a gritty person is one who is hard all of the time. They have times of softness and vulnerability, especially with those they are charged with leading. Having grit doesn’t mean lacking feelings or emotions or keeping them to yourself. That’s just silly and damaging. To tell people that they can’t express their emotions, passions, etc. in a work environment is saying you don’t want humans working for you. Of course, this should be done professionally and not in a destructive manner but being able to cut through the noise to fix problems requires open expression. Being smart is about knowing how to do, being wise is about knowing when to do. Sometimes silence speaks volumes and sometimes volume speaks volume.

Courage Under Fire

One of the hardest things in the world is for people to admit they’re wrong or made a mistake. Since I’m on a movie roll I’ll keep it going. The movie Courage Under Fire was about literal courage under fire and the lack thereof. Denzel Washington’s character is posthumously awarding Meg Ryan’s character’s the Medal of Honor for her bravery in action in Desert Storm (literal courage under fire). The investigation reveals she died from friendly fire and it was covered up resulting in the one responsible committing suicide after being questioned (lack of courage under fire). Someone with grit owns their mistakes, their wrongs, admits it and learns from it. When they receive feedback they consider it whether they agree with it or not. If they push back against the feedback it’s done so with facts and figures, not excuses or conjecture. They invite the other side to do so as well.  These are people you cannot easily scare or intimidate, nor do they seek to scare and intimidate. They meet fact with fact and fiction with fact because they are interested in the signal not the noise. They say what needs to be said, in the manner in which it needs to be said, even when it’s not the popular thing to say.

Endure Optimistically

Last, but not least, someone with grit can endure unpleasantness for a long time. They can endure the rough times and do so with an eye on the future state. They are working toward a better state or a greater good and know that sludge is par for the course. They are loyal and don’t abandon the ship the second the waters get rough. They adapt and make do. When someone abandons ship they don’t focus on it, they pick up the slack or assign it to someone else. They inspire others to do the same. They don’t leave a man or woman behind. They do all of this with a good attitude. That doesn’t mean they won’t get upset, frustrated or discouraged at times. It means that when they do they rely on their mental toughness and fortitude to regroup to get themselves and others back on track.

When you hear of people having grit and wonder if you have it too, think on this list of characteristics. Do you have them? If not, you can cultivate them. Start by looking for and partnering with the closet person with true grit you can find. You may find you have more grit than you think. Take a look at the very top of your organization, your C-suite. Do you think they have grit or are they more political? In a world that values quick fixes and instant gratification is it harder to have grit? And when does grit go too far? I would love to hear your thoughts on the art of grit.

About the author. Nile Harris is a word weaver and dream believer with 2o years of experience in healthcare and finance. This aspiring motivational speaker, TED presenter and LinkedIn Influencer is committed to valuing people, driving healthcare access and innovation, and weaving words that move people to action.  Her views are her own. Connect with Nile on Facebook and Twitter @theNileHarris.

Stop Being Selfish With Your Gift

Nile Harris

“You are selfish.” His face was fairly stern as he said those words to me. I was thinking how harsh a statement that was especially since I had known this man for all of three hours. To add to the confusion this was his feedback to me after practicing my presentation on type II diabetes in front of my small group. The two others in the group, who I also didn’t know, shook their head in agreement with his statement. It’s a presentation on how type II diabetes is costing the country billions and how in most cases it’s preventable and even reversible. Maybe they feel my position is too much blame the victim. I don’t know. So I ask hoping that I will receive clear feedback that I can act on.

In the last few years I’ve taken several speaking courses. I want to be a better presenter to go along with my word weaving, and it’s in support of my goal of being a public speaker. When I ask what didn’t work for them, because clearly they were skipping the first step of feedback which is to say what did work well, he responded with the clear feedback I needed. He said to me that I’m such a gifted speaker and I have something powerful to say, but what he didn’t get was why I wasn’t already speaking publicly. I was given a gift and a message and by not sharing it beyond this class I was being selfish. “How many people could’ve been helped by just the practice speech you gave here. Why do you remain hidden? That’s not why God gave you your gifts.”

“How many people could’ve been helped by just the practice speech you gave here. Why do you remain hidden? That’s not why God gave you your gifts.”

Well alrighty then. I had never heard this concept before, but it made perfect sense. This was about two years ago, the funny thing is I hear it from people all of the time now. Not necessarily speaking to me. I mean, I hear other speakers talking about this concept of sharing one’s gifts. We are all interconnected, even the plants, animals, everything on Earth is connected. In a Star Wars the force sort of way, everything relies on everything else in order to survive and thrive. What if bees collectively decided they would stop contributing their gift to the world? Pollination wouldn’t happen. What if dogs decided they would no longer serve humanity? Who would herd sheep and keep the wolves away? What if that person who had the biggest impact on your life or career had decided not to share their gift with you?

Yes – You Have A Gift

Hopefully you’re not sitting there thinking you don’t have a gift. The order of the Universe is that every person is born with a gift. Even when that person spends only a few moments on Earth. What you should be doing right now is asking yourself what gift or gifts do you have that you aren’t sharing and why. Every reason that is coming into your mind right now is probably perfectly legitimate. Without even knowing what you’re thinking I’m going to answer all of those reasons collectively with this – it doesn’t serve the world to stay hidden. Sure, everyone is busy. You don’t need to spend hours or days a week sharing your gift. You can start in your home, in your neighborhood, or in your work group. In other words start sharing your gift with the person sitting right next to you. Maybe your gift is bringing people together or inspiring others. Your gift may be something you do every day that helps others and you don’t even know it.

People Do Want To Hear What You Have To Say

I feel this way sometimes, okay, many times. Why would anyone be interested in what I have to say? People are only interested in hearing people who have attained a certain level of wealth, or have a certain title in a company – was my excuse. Then one day I flipped it around. The books, articles, TED Talks, etc. that I read and listen to are from all sorts of people. I’ve listened to children and read books by people who never went to college. I’ve benefited from conversations from people who weren’t CEOs or who were “ranked below me” in the corporate hierarchy. So, if I’m doing it, other people are doing it. If a message was put in my mind and on my heart, that means that someone is supposed to hear it.

Has anyone ever called you out of the blue and said something that you needed to hear that day in that moment? Or someone sends you an email with a link to an article that seems meant for you? I don’t believe that’s a coincidence. I believe because we are connected that these things happen. It happens in the animal kingdom all of the time, this isn’t unusual. It has become unusual to humans. There may be someone waiting to hear what you are dying to say.

It’s A Growth Opportunity

I think everyone would agree that we learn more when we teach others. Really, if you think about it, being selfless is about being selfish. It feels good to help other people, most of the time. True, sometimes helping someone can backfire. The road to hell and all. Even when your helping someone takes a bad turn you don’t feel bad about yourself. You feel you did the right thing regardless and you got an extra bonus learning. Perhaps there are some situations where you don’t share your gift. There are other times that you do and the response is unexpected, in a good way and provides you with a different perspective. I think a great example of this is Oprah Winfrey’s OWN channel. Oprah has clearly been sharing her gift with the world for many years. She felt OWN would provide a bigger platform for others to share their gifts. Essentially this was her gift of gift giving. We saw less of Oprah and more of other people, who were great, but not Oprah. She reassessed the model and realized that her audience still wanted to see her but in a bigger way. She expanded the platform and people that they would get more of her not less. That changed her perspective, that provided her with an opportunity to grow.

How To Share Your Gift

Here’s the thing, I’m not going to tell you how to share your gift. I know, that’s not fair. Everyone’s gift is unique to them, how can any one person tell you how to shine? There are important components. First is belief. In order to be a gift to others you must first be one to yourself. If you aren’t there yet, that’s where you start. Voices of self doubt can creep in, that’s fine. Acknowledge them and send them on their way. The second component is worth. In order to give you must be able to receive. I know, the saying goes the other way. It’s chicken and egg. You have to do both. Givers make terrible receivers sometimes. You have to know that you are worth receiving. The third component is gratitude. Be grateful for every opportunity to share your gift. When someone asks you for help thank them for asking you, whether or not you can. You are thanking them for the opportunity to serve.

Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest. We know you’re looking for more great content like this. Drop us your email and we’ll make sure you continue to receive original and informative content for health and wealth creation for divine black women.

About the author. Nile Harris, is a word weaver and dream believer with 2o years of experience in healthcare and finance. This aspiring motivational speaker, TED presenter and LinkedIn Influencer is committed to valuing people, driving healthcare access and innovation, and weaving words that move people to action.  Her views are her own. Connect with Nile on Facebook and Twitter @theNileHarris.

5 Ways To Find And Answer Your Calling – Keys To Success

If you do what you love you will never work again a day in your life. Work is defined as “mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment”. That definition doesn’t say anything about loving the mental or physical activity. It’s about trading your time for dollars. Have you ever been working on something that was fun or had your complete interest and the time just flew by? It may have been difficult or required a lot of your time but you didn’t notice? That’s the meaning of that sentence – do what you love and you’ll never work again. Typically what we love just happens to also be our purpose. When we align to our purpose we can’t help but to be happy and love what we’re doing.

It doesn’t matter if what you love involves working for yourself, a company or volunteering. Our purpose is what calls us into our future. Answering our calling is another key to success. That is something we aren’t taught in schools. We’re given assessment tests for our skills and then we’re encouraged along a path that makes the most sense. But no one gives us a purpose test. More oft than not our skills do align to our calling. The Universe puts the gifts inside of us to realize our calling, but those aren’t our only gifts. That’s where the confusion can come in.

When I was in grade school I tested off the charts for a military career. I dismissed this until college. Suddenly in my junior year I had a deep yearning to go to the Navy. I felt called to be a Naval aviator. I applied to Officer Candidate School, OCS, and began preparing for the 10-week course between my junior and senior year. To my counselor this seemed completely out of the character given that I was majoring in finance and communications. She issued a skill assessment and it came back once again for a military career. Despite her encouragement to pursue becoming a Naval officer I allowed myself to talk myself out of it. I spoke to women who were in or had been in the military, all of whom advised against it. This was also during the time of Tailhook scandal where women pilots had been assaulted. I made the decision not to go. I regret that decision because an unanswered calling just continues to call, it never ceases. I wish I had at least attended OCS. It was years before I heard another calling.

I regret that decision because an unanswered calling just continues to call, it never ceases.

There are two important things to know about answering your call. First, answering your call doesn’t mean you give up an income. While you are sharing your gifts with the world it is perfectly acceptable to get paid for those gifts. Someone once told me that I was being selfish by not sharing my gifts. I thought that was absurd. I wasn’t intentionally keeping them to myself, but I also didn’t think anyone cared. Their response was quite profound. Someone somewhere has been waiting on a message from you that they can only understand from you. Think about it, has someone tried to explain a concept to you but it went over your head? Then someone else explained it and it became crystal clear? Someone is waiting for the clarity only you can provide. That was an ah ha moment as Oprah would say.

Second, merely following your calling doesn’t guarantee success. It is a key to success but you have to work at it, but as we’ve learned, it’s not really work. If you want to use your calling to create a business you have to be committed to it and put effort into it. If you want to make millions or just enough to cover your expenses and put something away for retirement you still have to put in effort. Steve Jobs, Tony Robbins, Richard Branson, Oprah, Hilary Clinton, and countless others have had success following their callings. This is a diverse group of callings – my point is, it doesn’t matter what your purpose. Being happy with how you spend your days exponentially contributes to success. Think of it in the reverse, when you’re miserable with what you’re doing do you show up on time? Do you go the extra mile? Are you excited to get out of bed in the morning?

If the answer to these and other questions like these is no, it’s time to find your purpose and heed your calling. You don’t have to do it all at once but here are some five ways to get started today.

1. Define success for yourself. We will continually go back to the beginning. If you haven’t first defined what success is to you, you will forever be chasing pavements. Learn the ways to define your success, it’s not as hard as you think.

2. Listen to the call. If you are currently experiencing that nagging feeling in the back of your mind to do something chances are you are steps away from knowing your calling. I get it, what if you’re calling is to open your own store but you have college tuition to pay for? There are other ways to contribute to this calling before taking that step. List the skills or expertise you currently have that would make you a successful store owner. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Now looking at that list, are there people who currently own stores that could benefit from that expertise? I bet there are. Could you start a blog about the secrets to successful store ownership? Could you do some freelance consulting on the side? The answers to those questions, by the way, are yes. You don’t have to go from 0 to 100, consider how you would go from 0 to 1 and do that.

3. Listen for the call. Okay you haven’t gotten that nagging feeling yet or maybe you have a couple and not sure which one to follow. Here is something to consider, you may be hearing but don’t know you are. Maybe you have a lot going on in your life right now and the message is struggling to get through. This is a great time to meditate. Even 10 minutes a day can have benefits. But before you meditate ask yourself a question. Don’t think about the answer during the meditation though. I know, now it’s all you’ll think about it. The point of the exercise is to allow your mind to relax and it will focus on the question in the background. Questions to ask yourself include: am I happy? What would I rather be doing? What are my gifts? As you do this more and more your brain is programmed to answer these questions. It will begin accessing your subconscious for answers and begin to pull them forward. It sounds like hokus pokus but it’s not. The universe and the brain abhors a void, so they naturally try to fill it. The trick is to fill the void with useful information that serves you. Learn more about brain basics and how to manipulate them at Transformation YOUniversity.

4. Kick fear in the pants. There is always a hundred reasons not to do something. If we gave in to fear every time it reared its head we would still be living in caves waiting on the invention of fire. The brain is programmed for fear and to focus on the negative. The brain’s primary purpose is to keep us alive and look out for danger. If a change doesn’t fall in to one of those categories the brain will begin to throw up road blocks because it prefers the status quo. Keep in mind we, as humans, have always had fear. As children we typically acted in spite of our fears. Then in our teens and early twenties we acted in spite of common sense, fear didn’t seem to be an issue. Then we got jobs and became responsible. We locked into a life and the yearn for stability was born. When you want to try something you will feel the fear, but do it anyway. But be smart about it, don’t quit your job today without a plan for tomorrow.

5. Always be learning. Life begins at the edge of our comfort zone. There is no quicker way to get out of our comfort zone than to learn something new. Always be learning is a key to success so don’t skip over it. Fear’s strongest ally is lack of knowledge. When presented with something new we immediately say “I don’t know how to do that”. If it’s something you’re not interested in I wouldn’t spend time learning it, but if it is get started right away. Two years ago I didn’t know how to set up a blog, no social media experience, etc. – but I learned how. And not only did I learn it I teach it and can consult on it. There is also benefit to learning the basics of the things we don’t want to do. It not only helps us understand why but can establish what we’re looking for in someone who can. For me, I’m excellent at bringing order to chaos and being strategic. Getting down to the tactical level puts me in my lower self. I can do it and very well when I need to, but my brain shuts off. I would rather let someone else do the analysis and execute a plan. But I learned how to do it so I know what to look for in someone else to do it for me.

No time to waste, get started on following your purpose today. Don’t spend another minute doing something you hate simply because it pays the bills. Doing something you love could pay the bills also. The economy is tight and so are jobs. If you need to, start small. Volunteer your time and talents or find other outlets for them. When you align to your purpose it will pull you forward and the universe will order itself to make it happen because the universe mandates we have an abundance.